The $200,000 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes, run on the River Downs' turf course for the first time this year to position itself as a prep for the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, may not have attracted any major shippers this time. But it could have produced at least one contender for the $1-million race at Monmouth when favored Old Man Buck turned in a measured one-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile event Sept. 3.
Perry Ouzts, who became just the 22nd jockey to win 5,000 races on Aug. 21, guided the 2-year-old Old Man Buck to victory for trainer Kenneth McPeek and owner Lawrence E. Carroll.
Old Man Buck started sharply from his rail post while angling off the inside to sit fourth behind the early leaders. On the final turn, the Hold That Tigercolt moved to challenge on the outside, gaining a short lead coming into the stretch. Old Man Buck responded willingly to turn back Cherokee Triangle, ridden by Jesus Castanon. Cherokee Triangle took a couple of shots at the winner but drifted in late and could not reach even terms in the final furlong. The final time was 1:42 2/5.
It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Caberneigh and Dean Sarvis in third.
Robbing the Bank led the opening quarter mile in :23 4/5, then gave way at Tovah, who reached the half-mile point in :48 1/5. Old Man Back led after six furlongs in 1:12 3/5.
Old Man Buck won the Cradle's major prep, an allowance heat at one mile on the River Downs grass Aug. 11, by more than five lengths. That was the chestnut colt's first win in three starts. The Cradle victory was worth $120,000 and increased Old Man Buck's earnings to $137,050.
Stonehaven Farm bred Old Man Buck, a $13,000 Saratoga yearling last year who is out of the Jeblar mare Victorian Woman.
The winner paid $6, $3.60 and $2.60. Cherokee Triangle, who ran third in the Cradle prep, returned $4.20 and $3.40. Caberneigh was $3.80 to show.
Teeberry finished fourth, followed by Tizthemaninthemoon, Ari N Julius, Robbing the Bank, Tovah, Seaside Storm and Brave Night. Free Brave scratched.