Lion Tamer Cracks Whip in Hutcheson

Michael Tabor's heavily-favored Lion Tamer roared away with Saturday's $200,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.

The chestnut son of Will's Way, ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher, ran the seven furlongs in 1:22 3/5, defeating late-closing Strength Within by six lengths. The pacesetter, Crafty Guy, finished third in the field of six.

Lion Tamer was off slowly but recovered to rate on the outside of Crafty Guy, ridden by Jose Santos, down the backside through opening fractions of :22 for the quarter-mile and :44 1/5 for the half, taking the lead on the turn for home and pulling away in deep stretch. Strength Within, with Earlie Fires in the irons, came from well back with a wide move to grab the runner-up spot from Crafty Guy by 3/4 length.

Scrimshaw, the 2-1 second choice, acting up with rider Jerry Bailey in the gate prior to the start. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained son of Gulch broke slowly, rushed up to race in third on the outside of Crafty Guy and Lion Tamer, then tired on the turn and finished fourth.

Lion Tamer, making his first appearance in a graded stakes field, scored his second straight impressive victory of the year. He defeated an entry-level allowance field by 7 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 4. His third straight victory overall, worth $90,000, improved his career bankroll to $146,000.

Bred in Kentucky by Paul Smith, Lion Tamer was a $180,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling purchase in 2001.

Sent off at 6-5, the winner paid $4.60, $3.40 and $2.60. Strength Within returned $6.80 and $3.80. Crafty Guy's show price was $4. The $2 exacta was worth $36.

(Chart, Equibase)