Paradise Dancer holds off Finallymadeit to win the Kenny Noe.

Paradise Dancer holds off Finallymadeit to win the Kenny Noe.

Jim Lisa Photos

Paradise Dancer Game in Kenny Noe

The 7-year-old gelding earned his first graded stakes victory Dec. 15 at Calder

Paradise Dancer stalked the pace, took a short lead in mid-stretch and then held off a game challenge from Finallymadeit to capture the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a neck Dec. 15 on the main track at Calder Race Course.

A 7-year-old Langfuhr gelding, Paradise Dancer won his first graded stakes event in the 40th race of his career. He completed the seven furlongs in 1:23.46. Finallymadeit was second, while Finance Minister rallied for third at odds of 48-1 in the 10-horse field.

Rolbea Thoroughbred Racing’s Finallymadeit dueled with Rexson’s Rose in the backstretch, taking the lead from one another while posting fractions of :22.35 and :45-flat. Paradise Dancer, under Elvis Trujillo, stayed just behind the leaders, while Olympic hustled four-wide to challenge.

As they turned for home Paradise Dancer made his three-wide move and was second, 2 ½ lengths back of Finallymadeit at the top of the stretch. Closing in with every stride, Paradise Dancer challenged at the sixteenth-pole and took a short lead, but Finallymadeit, ridden by Eduardo Nunez, would not go quietly. The 3-year-old Concerto colt fought Paradise Dancer the whole way, as the two dueled for most of the final half furlong.

Paradise Dancer, out of the Bold Ruckus mare Ruckus Ridge, held on narrowly for the momentous win.

“That was a tough one, my horse didn’t want to pass Finallymadeit at first, then when he did I figured I had him beat,” Trujillo said. “I can’t believe how game they both were. That horse came back at us and all of a sudden, for just a second, I thought we were beat, but my horse was just as game and got the job done.”

Trained by Kirk Ziadie, Paradise Dancer entered of a one-length victory in the Oct. 20 Go to Will Stakes at Calder, also holding of Finallymadeit in that score. Also a winner in the June 2 Blazing Sword Stakes at Calder, Paradise Dancer has been in the money is all seven starts this year.

"That 3-year-old (Finallymadeit) is a tough cookie, but this old man (Paradise Dancer) is tough, too,” Ziadie said. “He’s getting up there, almost eight (years old), but he can still do it, although you have to space out his races. There was no real (physical) problem during the layoff (July through October), but he needs time off. We’ll look for another race for him in a couple months.”

Owned by Richard Averill, Paradise Dancer has now won 11 of 40 lifetime starts and has only been off the board in nine efforts.

Going off as the even-money betting favorite, Paradise Dancer paid $4.20 to win. The exacta (1-8) paid $21.20, while the trifecta (1-8-2) was worth $360.40.

Paradise Dancer was bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich.

Olympic was fourth, followed by Yes He’s the Man, Guapeton, Storm in May, Santana Strings, No More Masters and Rexson’s Rose, who tired badly.

(Chart, Equibase)