08/30/2007 12:00AM

Footlights wins by 11 1/2 in N.Y. Turf Writers Cup


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - As a jockey, Roger Horgan said he never had any luck in the New York Turf Writers Cup, Saratoga's premier steeplechase event. As a trainer, Horgan's fortunes improved dramatically.

On Thursday, Horgan sent out the 7-year-old mare Footlights to an 11 1/2-length victory in the $160,800 New York Turf Writers Cup. Underbidder, the longest shot on the board at 28-1, got up for second by a neck over The Looper. Mixed Up, the 6-5 favorite who had to tote high weight of 162 pounds, finished a well-beaten fifth.

It was the first time a female horse won the New York Turf Writers Cup since Life's Illusion did it as a 4-year-old in 1975.

Horgan said he entered Footlights in the Turf Writers because she got in with 133 pounds, had already beaten males in an allowance race here on July 26, and couldn't get a second-level allowance race to fill.

Under Xavier Aizpuru, Footlights raced in the second flight while Preemptive Strike raced out to a 20-length lead. Preemptive Strike gave way around the eighth fence, which was when Footlights took charge. Footlights opened up a huge advantage around the turn, took the final two fences flawlessly, and had no challengers in the stretch.

Footlights, owned by Arcadia Stable, covered the 2 3/8 miles in 4:33.01 and returned $18 to win.

"He gave her a fantastic ride again," Horgan said. "He just let her settle and she jumped just perfect from what I could see. The weight came into play. She acted like a fresh horse with that feather weight."

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said the 162 pounds in the hot weather was too much for Mixed Up, who was running back three weeks after winning the A.P. Smithwick here Aug. 9.

"That's a little bit more than he can handle," Sheppard said. "These horses are not machines."