05/13/2017 7:29PM

Crewman benefits from Ghost Hunter's traffic trouble in Hanshin Cup

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Four-Footed Fotos
Crewman pays $53 for winning the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup under Carlos Marquez Jr.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Crewman’s second start in a graded stakes race produced the first graded-stakes win in the long career of trainer Dee Poulos, as Crewman scored a narrow victory Saturday at Arlington in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin Cup.

Crewman got an assist from Wyeth, who finished a close third, and came out fairly sharply in the final half-furlong just as Ghost Hunter was trying to split Crewman and Wyeth. Jockey Jevian Toledo had to take up and come around, and still managed to edge Wyeth for second while falling a neck short of Crewman. The Arlington stewards conducted an inquiry and Toledo lodged an objection, but the result stood.

Crewman ran straight in deep stretch and was not at fault in the major incident, but had come in slightly in upper stretch when Ghost Hunter, who probably was best on the day, first tried to come between horses.

Crewman, a 6-year-old gelding by Candy Ride out of the Empire Maker mare Lake Naivasha, won for the sixth time in 31 starts while trying graded stakes competition for the first time since he was a distant seventh in the 2016 Hanshin. Crewman has thrived on synthetic surfaces, over which he’s now 9-5-1-1, and won the $50,000 Forego on Turfway’s Polytrack earlier this year. Dundalk 5 LLC, whose principal is Tim Kindlon, claimed Crewman for $25,000 out of his second career start in October 2014.

“He’s done nothing but be a hard-knocking horse for us,” Kindlon said.

Poulos is the widow of Ernie Poulos, who trained the excellent Chicago-based racehorse Black Tie Affair. Dee Poulos first started a horse as head trainer in 1997 and had been 0 for 6 in graded stakes before Saturday’s win.

Crewman, a 25-1 shot who paid $53, pressed the early pace after breaking from post 9 as Valiant City came inside Wyeth to set splits of 23.38 and 46.08 seconds in the one-turn mile. Wyeth took over the lead on the far turn, appeared to be going comfortably, and gave jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. a good feeling going to the three-furlong pole.

“I thought I was long gone,” Valdivia said. “When I inherited the lead he took a breather and I thought, ‘Oh boy, we got something.’ ”

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Wyeth led through six furlongs in 1:10.20 but still had Crewman stuck near his flank as Ghost Hunter and Toledo crept up the inside into striking position. Ghost Hunter had no luck as Crewman displayed his typical grit to just get home, running a mile in 1:35.06.

“I worked him once last week,” said winning rider Carlos Marquez Jr. “I’d never rode him before so [Poulos] wanted me to get a feel for him. He worked super. He didn’t go fast, but the way he did it I was very happy. I told Ms. Dee if he runs like he works, he’ll be very tough. He had a perfect trip. He was cruising down the backside, and every time [Hootenanny] crept to me on the outside, he moved on his own. I’m waiting for Valdivia to move so I can move with him, and when he moved and he didn’t go anywhere, and I’m still sitting, I said, ‘It’s going to be me and him down to the money.’ ”

Marquez couldn’t see Ghost Hunter twice getting stopped, but that’s racing, and in the Hanshin it was Crewman who got the money.

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