- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

ELMONT, N.Y. — Against a field that included a colt, First Samurai, that Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey labeled the best 2-year-old he has ridden, Stevie Wonderboy powered his way past two colts to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile yesterday at Belmont Park.

Which is equal parts good and bad.

The good: Stevie Wonderboy won the year’s biggest race for 2-year-old colts and earned owner Merv Griffin — yes, that Merv Griffin — $826,800, more than making up Griffin’s $100,000 investment in February.

The bad: He basically eliminated himself from winning the Kentucky Derby. A Juvenile winner has never won the Derby the following spring, and only twice in 21 years — Chief’s Crown in 1985 and Timber Country in 1994 — did the Juvenile winner finish in the top three at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Garrett Gomez doesn’t care about history.

“I hope he’s my Derby horse,” he said. “When he found his best stride at the [half-furlong mark], he wore them down and ran a huge race.”

Competing in his first race longer than a mile (11/16 miles), Stevie Wonderboy was 12th after the opening quarter and 11th after a half-mile. As expected, First Samurai was stalking the leaders, running third.

Gomez made his big move around the turn, shooting around the outside and advancing from 11th to fifth during the third quarter-mile of the race. At the top of the stretch, he was third, two-and-a-half lengths behind leader Henny Hughes, and then charged into the lead inside the final furlong pole and won by 11/4 lengths. First Samurai was third.

Stevie Wonderboy, named after the singer who made one of his first television appearances as a 17-year-old on Griffin’s variety show, had not raced in 52 days, since a five-length win in the Del Mar Futurity. He went nearly a month between that race and his first posted workout.

“I’m not a big workout guy, so even though he didn’t show any official workouts, he was galloping a good mile-and-a-half every day,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He was maintaining his normal fitness and the fact the Norfolk [at Santa Anita on Oct. 2] was two turns, we weren’t really crazy about possibly dulling his speed and coming back to one turn.”

‘Lost’ loses

The horse of the year picture became even more muddled when Lost in the Fog — 10-for-10 previously in his career — finished seventh as the overwhelming favorite in the Sprint. Silver Train won the six-furlong race.

“In the turn for home, he didn’t have it in him today for no apparent reason,” Fog trainer Greg Gilchrist said.

Fourth after the opener quarter, Lost in the Fog made a sensational move around the outside of the pack to take the lead at the top of the stretch.

“We turned for home, and I shook the stick at him, and he gave me quite a punch,” jockey Russell Baze said. “But about a dozen lengths later, he just flattened out.”

That opened the door for Silver Train — who blew by Lost in the Fog — and Taste of Paradise, who had to maneuver around Lost in the Fog. Paradise’s jockey, Gomez, raised objection that Silver Train blocked his path, but racing officials disagreed.

Upset of the day

Showing an impressive burst down the lane, Pleasant Home won the Distaff, paying $63.50 to win.

Running fourth, Pleasant Home blew by three horses in a matter of seconds and quickly extended her lead, winning by 91/4 lengths — the largest margin of victory yesterday and the second largest in Distaff history.

Favorite Ashado, the defending Distaff champion, finished third in her last race.

Other races

Juvenile Fillies — The favorite, Folklore, led early and then stalked Knights Templar before reassuming the lead for good at the top of the stretch for a 11/4-length win over Wild Fit. Folklore’s sire is two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow.

Filly & Mare Turf — In a race usually reserved for closers and stalkers, Intercontinental led from the early going and held off favorite and defending race champion Ouija Board’s late push to win by 11/4 lengths. Intercontinental didn’t garner a lot of betting interest because she was running 11/4 miles for the first time in her 22-race career.

Mile — A disappointing 12th last year as the favorite in the Mile, Artie Schiller — minus injured rider Richard Migliore — upset favorite Leroidesanimaux by three-quarters length. During the race, Funfair sustained an open leg fracture and was euthanized.

Turf — Shakespeare finished 12th in the mile-and-a-half race, making the three undefeated horses (First Samurai and Lost in the Fog) a combined 0-for-3. The German-bred Shirocco won by 13/4 over Ace.

Around the track

Several jockeys and trainers recorded their first Breeders’ Cup victories, led by former Maryland racing star Edgar Prado, who entered 0-for-41 but won the Juvenile Fillies and Sprint. Also recording their first wins were jockeys Gomez, Rafael Bejarano (Filly & Mare Turf) and Christophe Soumillon (Turf) and trainers O’Neill (Juvenile), Richard Dutrow Jr. (Sprint) and Jimmy Jerkens (Mile). …

Favorites were 2-for-8 yesterday — Folklore in the Juvenile Fillies and Saint Liam in the Classic. The lack of favorites in the winner’s circle meant a high average payoff ($22.35).

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