Locally-based claimer Cardashi scored a shocking 29-1 upset in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap when he ran down pacesetter Blue Sailor in mid-stretch and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths Aug. 1 on the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course turf (VIDEO).
Ridden by David Cora, Cardashi was claimed by trainer Tim Kreiser for Mason Dixon Stable for just $10,000 in February. Since then, the 7-year-old gelded son of Kiridashi had won two turf sprints at Penn National, but they were in claiming and allowance company, nothing like the richest race in the racetrack’s history.
Cardashi completed five furlongs on the "yielding" turf in :56.23 while making his stakes debut.
Blue Sailor set the pace in the Governor’s Cup, sprinting out to a clear lead while running splits of :21.70 and :44.07 under Harry Vega. Sea Dubai tracked the leader in the early going, while Cardashi raced in third.
Cardashi loomed as the biggest threat to Blue Sailor at the eighth pole, but still had a 2 1/2 lengths to make up on the leader. The bay gelding kept charging from the outside and finally surged to the front with a sixteenth remaining. Blue Sailor stayed on for second, a length better than third-place Chamberlain Bridge.
"My horse was very sharp winning the stakes prep over this course two weeks ago, “said Cora. "In the stretch I didn’t see anyone closing from behind, and then the leader got tired and I still had plenty of horse left. He loves this turf course."
Cardashi, who was bred in Ontario by Audre Cappuccitti and is out of the Honor Grades mare Honor Card, is now 11-10-3 from 42 starts, including 3-for-3 on the Penn National grass. His $120,000 first-place check pushed his earnings to $266,085.
The winner paid $61, $25.60, and $9.80. The exacta (1-5) returned $300.80 and the trifecta (1-5-11) was $1,531.
Smart Enough, the 9-5 favorite, finished fifth, a length behind Little Nick. Heroes Reward, the probable favorite and winner’s of last year’s Governor’s Cup, was scratched.