(from Aqueduct report)
Paraneck Stable’s Pink Viper held off 6-5 favorite Johannesburg Star to win the $70,865 Count Fleet for 3-year-olds at a mile and 70 yards on the Aqueduct inner dirt track on a record 70-degree day Saturday.
The 6-5 choice Johannesburg Star, in his earliest steps on the road to the Classics, had suddenly awakened with a 9 ½-length victory at Aqueduct on Dec. 9. His owner, Bisnath Parboo, reportedly turned down a $2 million offer to purchase the bay Johannesburgcolt.
Johannesburg Star made a rallying move on the turn under jockey C. C. Lopez and caught up to Pink Viper and jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., who had dueled longshot Here to Please on the fast track through fractions of :23.55, :47.04 and 1:11.95.
The 8-1 shot Pink Viper dug in on the rail and never let the favorite pass, winning by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:42.94. A son of Smoke Glacken, Pink Viper returned $18.40, $5.70, and $3.70 for his second win in 11 career starts.
Alan Klanfer trains the gray colt, who earned $42,519 for the win, improving to his bankroll to $93,577. Jerry and Liz Squyres bred Pink Viper, a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton buy in November 2004 who is out of the Mt. Livermore mare Iridescence, in Kentucky.
Trainer Joe Parker admitted that he was disappointed with Johannesburg Star ($3, $2.30) but found consolation in that his charge ran on despite not having the best scenario.
“I don’t understand why he was so far back,” Parker said. “I’m encouraged by the way he made a move from off the pace. I’m totally disappointed. When he broke, he should have been in front.
"We’ll see how he comes out of the race and go from there. I’m not discouraged, but I am disappointed.”
Sir Whimsey ($3.30) was a length back in third, and a neck back in fourth was No Reply. Believeinmenow and Here to Please trailed.
Johnny Z and Summer Doldrums were scratched.
In the last race on the card, 71-year-old jockey Frank Amonte Sr. finished last aboard Eightyninecentsday in a failed bid to become the first rider over 70 to win a race. Amonte last won a race on Sept. 4, 2005, at the Northampton Fair in Massachusetts, one day before his 70th birthday.
Amonte and Willie Clark are believed to be the oldest riders to win races at 69.