Updated on 09/17/2011 2:43PM

Arlington: Crafty Shaw wins Hanshin

David Zenner
Crafty Shaw wins the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin by 1 1/4 lengths at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Ten minutes after the Hanshin Handicap, a racetrack employee invited trainer Pete Vestal into one of Arlington Park's back rooms for a celebratory champagne toast.

"No thanks," Vestal demurred. "I've got to go look after my horse."

Vestal, a former boxer, is quietly fixed squarely on the task at hand. And so is Crafty Shaw, the outstanding 6-year-old horse he trains for Oaklawn Park chairman Charles Cella. Crafty Shaw turned into the Arlington stretch Saturday afternoon with his ears laid back, fire in his eyes. He turned away the defending champion Apt to Be in midstretch and won the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin by 1 1/4 lengths.

"He's as competitive a horse as I've ever had to train," said Vestal. "I had another horse years ago named Ide that was the same way.

"They're just always very focused on what needs to be done. Sometimes I've made a mistake, or a rider made a mistake, but this horse has never made a mistake."

Surprisingly, the one-mile Hanshin set up perfectly for Crafty Shaw. On paper, the race had plenty of pace, but the connections of all the speed horses hatched the same plan - take back. A race full of pace suddenly turned into a paceless race, with Wiggins winding up on the early lead by default. Crafty Shaw and jockey Craig Perret were right outside of him through a quarter-mile in 23.95 seconds and a half in 47.22, sluggish splits. This was not the right trip for Wiggins, and he started backing up before the quarter pole, just as Perret turned Crafty Shaw loose.

Apt to Be, racing widest, came into the stretch with momentum, but not enough to push past Crafty Shaw.

The victory gave Crafty Shaw 7 wins from 8 starts at one mile, and this one was timed in a strong 1:35.35. Another $60,000 in purse money pushed his bankroll to over $984,000. The favorite, Crafty Shaw paid $5.60 to win, with Apt to Be in second and Kodema running third, followed by Coach Jimi Lee, Attack the Books, Wiggins, and Fighting Indians.