Trainer Rebecca Maker had a tough choice but she made the right call Saturday when It's No Joke captured his first graded race, the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), by one length over the 13-10 choice A.P. Arrow.It's No Joke, owned by Stan E. Fulton, was also entered in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II). It wasn't until Friday that Maker decided to send the son of Distorted Humor to Chicago.Well placed throughout, the 4-year-old colt overtook pacesetter Flamethrowintexan turning for home and held off the late rally from A. P. Arrow to win under veteran Chicago jockey Eusebio Razo Jr. The team completed the ten-furlong journey in 2:03.89 on a wet-fast track.Maker said the victory was the biggest of her career."I just thought the added distance would be an advantage," she explained. "I always thought he would be a mile and a quarter horse. It was a last minute decision to decide to bring him here. I thought about it a lot. It was basically 12 hours ago that I made up my mind."The victory was the fourth in nine starts this year for It's No Joke and the $300,000 winner's share more than doubled his lifetime bankroll to $545,658. The dark bay's overall record improved to six wins from 14 starts.A. P. Arrow was mid-pack early for John Velazquez, moved up on the turn and angled to the outside in the stretch. He proved little threat to the winner. "I had a perfect trip," said Velazquez, who came in from New York to ride the beaten favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher. "He just got there and kind of hung a little bit. At the quarter pole, I thought I was the winner; and the eighth pole, I said 'Uh oh.' My horse handled the track good. I thought I had a chance to win, but he just didn't have enough."
Locally-based Kid Grindstone closed from far back to finish third, eight lengths behind the runner-up. Summer Book, Flamethrowin Texan, Papi Chullo, and Nolan's Cat completed the order of finish.Flamethrowintexan, winner of the Longacres Mile (gr. III), led through fractions of 23.64, 47.73 and 1:11.74 before giving way in the stretch.It's No Joke returned $17.80, $7.40, and $4.60. A.P. Arrow paid $2.80 and $2.40, and Kid Grindstone was $5.60 to show. WinStar Farm bred the winner, a $675,000 yearling at Keeneland in 2003, in Kentucky. He's out of the Personal Flag mare It's Personal(Chart, Equibase)