Carthage, who knocked off champion sprinter Lost in the Fog in April, continued to climb the ranks of the nation's top sprinters with his victory in the $108,125 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. III) Sunday for his fifth successive win.
Ridden by Dennis Carr, Carthage battled Trickey Trevor, winner of the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) every step of the way before easing away in the final furlong for a one-length victory. A former claiming horse, Carthage was making his graded stakes debut for trainer Art Sherman. Carthage, who figures to jump into grade I and II events after this, stopped the clock in 1:09 1/5 for the six-furlong event.
With the scratch of the outsider Peak a Bootrando, the field was reduced to four. One of those, Areyoutalkintome, was all but eliminated when he reared at the start and spotted his rivals about four lengths.
Even so, most figured the race would be between Carthage and Trickey Trevor, who was ridden by Lost in the Fog's jockey, Russell Baze. Both horses carried 120 pounds.
Carthage broke best from the outside to get the lead but Trickey Trevor, leaving the rail stall, soon drew even and there was little distance between them as they clicked off fractions of :22 2/5 for the opening quarter-mile and :44 2/5 for the half. After they completed five furlongs in :56 2/5, Carthage gradually took command while under a drive from Carr, who has ridden the 6-year-old gray gelding in his last four starts.
"We both broke well and I didn't want Trickey Trevor to get to the outside of us," said Carr. "Turning for home both horses found another gear. With my horse, just when you think you found the bottom he's got more for you."
Baze said Trickey Trevor, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, made Carthage work for the win.
"Carthage is tough right now," said Baze. "I was really hoping Areyoutalkintome would go out there and do the dirty work but he got left. Someone had to hook Carthage. I wasn't going to let that gray horse run out there by himself. Jerry said if no one else goes to hook him and make him earn it. We tried him."
The winner paid $4.20 and $2.20 as a slight favorite over Trickey Trevor, who returned $2.40.
Areyoutalkintome trailed the field on the turn, swung wide into the stretch and finished well to be third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Carthage. Bonfante, a winner of four of his previous five starts, loomed into contention coming off the turn but could not keep pace through the lane and faded to last.
Owned by Sherman in partnership with Phil Baneth and Tony Vitone, Carthage is by Smoke Glacken
. Sherman claimed Carthage for $32,000 at Del Mar in September 2004. Including that race, a 5 1/2-length victory, Carthage has won eight of 11 starts. He defeated Lost in the Fog by three lengths in the Oakland Tribune
Golden Gate Sprint across town April 22 in his last start. Overall, Carthage has won nine of 18 with career earnings of $308,935.
Donald Eberts bred Carthage, who is out of Halomatic, by Halo, in Kentucky.