09/24/2016 4:23PM

Eightthehardway earns first stakes victory in Catlaunch

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JJ Zamaiko Photography
Eightthehardway rolls to a 6 1/4-length victory under Luis Gonzalez in the Catlaunch.

Eightthehardway, who picked up small pieces of purses in three stakes since he was claimed for $20,000 in mid-March, finally broke through with the first stakes victory of his 27-race career in Saturday’s $75,000 Catlaunch at Thistledown.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in a field of seven Ohio-accredited older males, Eightthehardway ($3.40) had to work his way from the back of the pack after stretch-out sprinter Pyrite Mill set slow fractions in the 1 1/16-mile route of 49.12 seconds for a half-mile and 1:15.08 for six furlongs.

Jockey Luis Gonzalez asked the 4-year-old Eightthehardway to launch his move on the turn for home. He got within a head of the leader at the eighth pole, blew past Pyrite Mill, and drew off to win by 6 1/4 lengths, completing the distance in 1:47.54.

Pyrite Mill held second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of 22-1 longshot Wild Pacific.

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It was the first win of the meet after 59 losses for trainer Richard Vickers.

 A son of Parents’ Reward owned by Paul Groves, Eightthehardway is now 6 for 27 lifetime with earnings of $212,968.