Updated on 09/18/2011 12:40AM

Artax: Little Thunder's biggest win yet

Gary I Rothstein/EQUI-PHOTO
Little Thunder wins the $100,000 Artax Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Dale Capuano claims horses on a frequent basis, invariably with the hope of improving a horse at least enough to turn a profit.

But Capuano, a perennial leading trainer in Maryland, could not have reasonably expected Little Thunder to get as good as he has. Since claiming Little Thunder for $16,000 for owner Ryan Haynes at Laurel Park last October, Capuano has sent out Little Thunder to 5 wins from 6 starts, with by far the greatest victory coming Saturday in the $100,000 .

Little Thunder, sent away the second-longest shot at 10-1 in a field of seven older horses, captured the 7 1/2-furlong Artax with surprising ease in his stakes debut. Always comfortable when stalking the pace under Clinton Potts, Little Thunder drew clear from pacesetting Auguri midway through the turn and was never threatened thereafter, winning by five lengths over Nightmare Affair, the 11-1 outsider.

"He pretty much dragged me the whole way around," said Potts.

Gygistar, the 13-10 favorite, finished third, another 3 3/4 lengths behind Nightmare Affair.

Little Thunder, a 4-year-old Florida-bred by Sword Dance, paid $23.20 after finishing in 1:27.97.