Alke Stops Cajun Beat in Deputy Minister

Alke kept the pressure on Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) champion Cajun Beat from the outset, poking a head in front in the stretch and going on to his fourth straight win in the $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Saturday.

Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Kenneth D. English and Alan Braun, Alke won his first stakes race in a drive by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:15 4/5 in the 6 1/2-furlong Deputy Minister. Cajun Beat, the 9-10 favorite with Cornelio Velasquez in the irons, finished 1 1/4 length in front of Coach Jimi Lee and Pat Day. Gygistar, the 7-2 second choice in the seven-horse field, finished fourth.

Cajun Beat, carrying top weight of 123 pounds, spotted the winner 11 pounds.

Breaking on the outside of Cajun Beat, the lightly-raced 4-year-old son of Grand Slam stayed on the outside while pressing Cajun Beat for the lead through early fractions of :23 and :46. Alke pulled even in the stretch, edged away from the favorite slowly and finished well while under urging from Velazquez.

Coach Jimi Lee stalked the leaders throughout and weakened in the lane, but outlasted Gygistar. The latter, ridden by Jerry Bailey, was steadied on the backstretch when he ran up on the heels of the pacesetters after breaking from the rail. After chasing the pace into the stretch, Gygistar also weakened late.

Cajun Beat had a three-race graded stakes winning streak snapped. He lost for the first time since finishing second to Valid Video in the Carry Back (gr. III) at Calder in July.

Alke, who has five wins and three seconds in nine career starts, earned $60,000 to push his lifetime total to $219,385. A $125,000 Keeneland September Yearling buy in 2001, Alke was bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm from the Crow mare Pasampsi.

The third choice paid $10.80, $4.60 and $3. Cajun Beat returned $2.60 and $2.20. Coach Jimi Lee's show was $3.60. The $2 exacta was worth $26.20.

Buju, True Direction and American Style completed the order of finish.

(Chart, Equibase)