Ohio Derby (gr. II)

(gr. II , 9f ,)

GONE ASTRAY (DK B/ h, 121 lb) $90,000
Dixie Union —Illicit , by Mr. Prospector
B—Phipps Stable, KY.; O—Phipps Stable; T—Claude R. McGaughey III

War Fighter (DK B/ g, 115 lb) $30,000
Repent —Dreamy Dream , by Whitney Tower
B—Steve Tucker, FL.; O—Jagger Inc.; T—Jamie Ness

Ice Road (GR/RO g, 117 lb) $15,000
Unbridled's Song —Runup the Colors , by A.P. Indy
B—W. S. Farish, KY.; O—Cimpl, Don, Kelly, Jon and Wiltz, Jim; T—Michael R. Matz

Margins: 2¼, 7¾, 6¼. Others: Join in the Dance 115($7,500) , Perfect Start 115($4,500) , Fonda Ronda Won 116($3,000) , Petch 115 . Winning Jockey, Eddie Castro.

Phipps StableÕs Gone Astray is no stranger to stakes, but in his last two starts he has taken his game to another level.

Fresh off a dominating victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), Gone Astray had to overcome an eventful trip to win the Oct. 3 Ohio Derby (gr. II) at Thistledown. In doing so, the 3-year-old homebred colt by Dixie Union out of the Mr. Prospector mare Illicit showed heÕs becoming a force.

ÒHe has turned into a professional type of racehorse,Ó said Buzz Tenney, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Claude ÒShugÓ McGaughey III. ÒI think itÕs maturity.Ó

With Eddie Castro riding, Gone Astray got away in fifth in the seven-horse field and rated behind horses for more than six furlongs in the 11Ú8-mile Ohio Derby. Castro angled him off the inside on the final turn, and Gone Astray took aim at front-running War Fighter, who set moderate fractions of :23.78 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.76 for a half-mile, and 1:13.06 for six furlongs.

With a sixteenth of a mile to go, Gone Astray took over from the outside and pulled away to win by 21Ú4 lengths over War Fighter, who finished 73Ú4 lengths ahead of Ice Road in third. The final time was 1:50.56 on a ÒfastÓ track.

ÒI got my position early, and my horse stayed relaxed for me,Ó Castro said. ÒI wasnÕt worried in the stretch. I knew my horse was running without asking him too much.Ó

Earlier this year Gone Astray finished third in the grade III Withers Stakes and earned two second-place finishes in ungraded stakes, including one at Saratoga. It seems the farther he goes the more he likes it.

Gone Astray, a heavy favorite that paid $2.80, now has four wins in 12 starts. The $90,000 first-place check brought his earnings to $854,657.

The Ohio Derby attracted 13 entries, but four horses opted to race in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II) the same day. Another was a sick scratch.

Gone Astray is one of 31 career stakes winners for Dixie Union, who stood for $35,000 this year at LaneÕs End Farm near Versailles, Ky. Among the stallionÕs other graded stakes winners this year is Hot Dixie Chick, winner of the grade I Spinaway Stakes and grade III Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga.ÑT.L.