07/03/2008 11:00PM

Any Limit holds off Wild Gams in First Flight


On the 58th anniversary of his first career win, Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens captured his 3,746th career victory when Any Limit took Friday's Grade 2 First Flight Handicap by a neck at Belmont Park.

Under Cornelio Velasquez, Any Limit assumed the lead soon after the start and carved out fractions of 22.58 seconds, 45.40, 1:10.20, and covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.96 over a sealed, muddy track. She returned $13.60 to win.

Wild Gams, who actually broke on top before dropping back to last, rallied to be second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of 9-5 favorite Rite Moment. She was followed in the order of finish by Windy, Akronism, Baroness Thatcher, and Ice Cool Kitty. Looky Yonder was scratched.

Of Jerkens's 3,746 career victories, six have come in the First Flight.

Jerkens, 79, said this one was special because Any Limit had suffered a serious hind ankle injury last summer and he thought she should be retired. But owner Joseph Shields wanted to see if she could make it back to the races because, according to Jerkens, he didn't have much else to run.

"She must have struck a shoe that was on the track because it cut right across her back ankle," said Jerkens, referring to the injury that sidelined Any Limit. "We healed it up and the first time we worked her it opened up again. We turned her out, and I thought he should retire her. I didn't think she could win a stakes race. I'm so happy for" Shields.

It was the seventh victory from 20 career starts for Any Limit, a 5-year-old daughter of Limit Out.

Two years ago, Wild Gams suffered a narrow loss in the Grade 1 Prioress when her late rally fell short. Friday was much the same, as she made a four-wide rally turning for home but could not get past Any Limit.

"It looked like going down the backside she couldn't get a hold of the track and left herself too much to do," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "She broke sharp and then just kind of dropped out of it."

* Lucky Island ($5) made it four consecutive victories when he went gate to wire under Alan Garcia to take the Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap by 4 1/4 lengths over Tasteyville. It was one length back to Premium Wine in third, followed by Starforaday and Council Member. Not for Money scratched.

Lucky Island, an Argentine-bred son of Lucky Roberto owned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.73 over a muddy track.