Mercedes Stable's Laura's Lucky Boy gave trainer Jason Orman his first stakes success with an electrifying stretch drive to win the $109,400 Will Rogers (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds in stakes-record time on the Hollywood Park grass Saturday.
Winning his third straight on the turf while making his first start in a stakes race for the 35-year-old Orman, Laura's Lucky Boy inhaled the leaders on the final turn while racing four wide for jockey Patrick Valenzuela. He easily turned back a challenge from favored Toasted in upper stretch to win going away by four lengths in 1:33 2/5, shaving two ticks off the one-mile stakes mark establish by Magical in 1998.
Orman hit the national stage earlier this month when his Rock Hard Ten ran second to Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). He plans to fly to New York tonight to prepare Rock Hard Ten for the Belmont June 5, he said.
"It would have been nicer if it would have happened a week ago (at Pimlico), but we'll take this," Orman said of winning his first stakes race. "We really haven't mapped out a real solid plan. We're going to see how he comes out of this race, see how tired he is. I mean, he ran a pretty hard race here, we're just going to take our time with him and hopefully point him towards some of those bigger races."
The well-bred bay colt is by Theatrical out of a half-sister to Cigar, Corridora Slew. Madeleine Paulson bred the winner in Kentucky. He's unbeaten since losing his debut maiden race by 17 lengths on Feb. 28. He has banked $123,240.
"He's really come around the last two or three months," Orman said. "After that first race he hasn't really done anything wrong."
Toasted held on for second with Street Theatre third in the field of eight.
Valenzuela allowed Laura's Lucky Boy to relax off the pace while getting inside early as Running Free and Boomzeboom set solid early fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 2/5. On the final turn, Laura's Lucky Boy ranged up easily three wide on the outside and had control as they hit the stretch, leading by four lengths at the eighth pole. He finished under strong urging while maintaining his big lead.
Toasted, ridden by Goncalino Almeida, tried to make a race of it going for the wire, but was no match.
"As soon as they broke and Patrick got him inside behind those horses, I was very happy," Orman said. "I saw him going down the backside, then once he got to the quarter or three-eighths pole he just really started pulling Patrick to the lead, and I thought he had a really good chance from there."
"I was very impressed with his race today," said Valenzuela, who won his first Will Rogers since 1991aboard Compelling Sound for Charles Whittingham. "He finished very strongly. I mean, he just shot away from them entering the stretch and really, really accelerated. It was very nice."
Almeida, who rode Toasted, agreed.
"I followed him on the backside because, before the race, I felt this was the horse to beat," he said. "Turning for home, I came a little closer, but the other one took off. I couldn't beat him today. Maybe next time."
Laura's Lucky Boy, the second choice, paid $7.20, $3 and $2.40. Toasted returned $3 and $2.20. Street Theatre, a late-running third under David Flores, was $2.80 to show. The $2 exacta was worth $16.80.
Tricky Flash Flood, Mambo Train, Running Free, Boomzeboom and Stalking Tiger trailed.