Leaping Plum's Eight-Peat Bid Foiled in Grasmick Handicap

His place in Nebraska racing history assured, 11-year-old Leaping Plum failed Saturday in his bid to win Fonner Park's $15,975 Grasmick Handicap for an eighth consecutive renewal. The race, however, was marred by the breakdown of second betting choice Neraks Eman.

Leaping Plum rallied from sixth to finish third after a wide trip in the four-furlong dash, crossing the wire a length and a neck behind 5-year-old longshot R C Mr Hay Boy. April Sunshine, who led early before being headed by the winner in the stretch, finished a neck behind the leader in second, one length ahead of 122-pound highweight Leaping Plum. The winner completed the distance in :45 4/5 on a fast track.

As it has for the seven previous years, the Grasmick marked the first start of the year for Leaping Plum. His career record now stands at 27 wins from 60 starts, with 18 placings. He's earned $348,933, including $1,917 for Saturday's efforts. Clyde Woods purchased Leaping Plum for $11,000 at the 1992 Keeneland September yearling sale and continues to own the gelding in partnership with Paul Miskimins. Joseph Moss has conditioned Leaping Plum (Lightning Leap -- Velvet Plum, by Dr. Blum) throughout his career. He has set or equaled track records on four occasions, at three different tracks, and at distances ranging from four furlongs to 5 1/2 furlongs.

R C Mr Hay Boy earned $9,585 for the win, his fourth in six starts. Sam G. Calvert's Kansas-bred son of Haymarket returned $58.20 for the win. The Joseph Ibarra trainee was making his first start of the year and was ridden to victory by Fernando S. Rojas.