12/06/2014 5:11PM

Eighttofasttocatch closes out career with fourth straight Jennings win


The $125,000 Jennings Handicap at Laurel Park on Saturday had long been penciled in as Eighttofasttocatch’s final career start, and everything went according to plan as he left his competition far behind while scoring his 17th victory.

Eighttofasttocatch, an 8-year-old gelded son of Not for Love, was winning the Jennings for the fourth year in a row. The victory put him over $1 million in earnings. Not bad for a horse who didn’t win his first stakes until age 5.

Following the race, trainer Tim Keefe admitted to feeling some pressure with so much on the line. Eighttofasttocatch now will retire to Keefe’s 30-acre farm in Montgomery County, Md., where Keefe’s wife, Rumsey, will train him to become a three-day event horse, which consists of dressage, show jumping, and cross-country jumping.

“I was just hoping he would run to his ability today,” Keefe said. “I have a lot of good memories with this horse.”

Keefe has trained Eighttofasttocatch since he was a yearling in 2007 for owners Arnold and Sylvia Heft. Eighttofasttocatch competed solely in Sylvia’s name this year after Arnold died in March at age 94.

Eighttofasttocatch, a three-time winner of the Maryland Million Classic, didn’t break sharply in the Jennings, but jockey Forest Boyce kept her cool and let him work his way to the lead along the inside in the opening quarter.

Eighttofasttocatch was chased by Larry Le Roi to the stretch, then opened up to win going away by 10 3/4 lengths.

“It made me a little nervous when he didn’t break that well,” Boyce said. “But he’s such a nice horse. He knows what he is doing. I asked him a little early just so he would get clear.”

Eighttofasttocatch paid $2.60 to win in the nine-horse field. He was timed for the one-turn mile in the slop in 1:36.70, following fractions of 24.06 seconds, 47.18, and 1:11.68. He retires with a record of 49-17-7-4 and earnings of $1,072,970.

Larry Le Roi finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Concealed Identity in third.

Willa On the Move: Lady Sabelia goes wire to wire

Lady Sabelia outsprinted a handful of rivals for the early lead and never looked back en route to a wire-to-wire score in the $100,000 Willa On the Move Stakes for filly and mare sprinters.

Lady Sabelia opened up a clear lead early and never was challenged in the six-furlong race, winning by 7 3/4 lengths under a hand ride from Horacio Karamanos.

“When my filly broke, I put her on the bit, and she was gone,” Karamanos said.

Lady Sabelia set splits of 22.65, 45.80, and 57.85. She completed the course in 1:10.42 over a sloppy track. She paid $4.40 in the 10-horse field.

Lady Sabelia, a 4-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior, has won four of her last five starts and 6 of 12 overall. She is trained by Robin Graham.

“As she gets older and more mature, she gets nicer and nicer.” Graham said. “She has a ton of class."

Graham said Lady Sabelia would be pointed for the $100,000 What a Summer Stakes at Laurel on Jan. 3 and then be considered for the Grade 2, $300,000 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel on Feb. 14.

Disco Barbie finished second in the Willa On the Move, three-quarters of a length in front of third-place finisher Disco Chick.

Marylander: Golden Years wins easily

Golden Years improved his record to 3 for 4 with an easy win in the $100,000 Marylander Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Never far back, jockey Victor Carrasco sent Golden Years after the front-running Hear the Chatter nearing the far turn of the seven-furlong Marylander. Golden Years pulled away through the stretch to win by 7 1/4 lengths with Carrasco easing up on him in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Golden Year’s final time of 1:24.82 was more than a second faster than the 2-year-old filly Lake Sebago needed to win the Gin Talking Stakes in the preceding race.

Golden Years began his career by winning a Sept. 10 maiden race and the Maryland Million Nursery on Oct. 18. In his most recent start, Golden Years finished fourth, beaten five lengths by Cinco Charlie, in the Nov. 15 James Lewis Stakes. Cinco Charlie, a three-time stakes winner, had finished third, beaten a length by the undefeated Blofeld, in his prior start, the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont.

“He’s an improving horse,” Trainer Rodney Jenkins said of Golden Years. “He’s the type of horse who plays around, and that’s what happened to him last time.”

Sizzling Quatorze, a 21-1 longshot, rallied to beat Hear the Chatter by 1 1/2 lengths for second. Hear the Chatter set splits of 23.21 and 46.60 before being collared by the winner.

Golden Years paid $2.80 to win in the nine-horse field.