Updated on 09/16/2011 8:43AM

Good Journey explodes in Firecracker

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Good Journey got a perfect trip under Pat Day before running down Morluc to win the 10th running of the $292,500 Firecracker Handicap Thursday at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Wally Dollase, Good Journey returned $6.40 as second choice in the Firecracker, a Grade 2 race that marked the third straight victory for the 6-year-old horse.

Over a firm course, longshot Even the Score set the pace in the one-mile race, tracked closely by Morluc. Into the stretch, Morluc took command under Garrett Gomez, but Good Journey, the 118-pound co-highweight in a field of nine older horses, angled out after getting a great inside trip to draw clear by 1 1/4 lengths.

Even the Score finished third, while Strut the Stage, the 9-5 favorite, was never a factor in finishing in a dead-heat for sixth.

Day, who despite being leading rider at the Churchill spring meet had not won a stakes race before the Firecracker, said he was happy with how the race unfolded.

Good Journey, owned by Flaxman Holdings Ltd., has the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Mile as his long-range goal, said Dollase. A son of Nureyev, Good Journey has won five times and just less than $625,000 from 12 lifetime starts. Although stabled at Hollywood Park, his most recent race was an allowance victory at Churchill.

"Plan A was to get here and get that prep," said Dollase.

* With three days left in the meet, Tom Amoss was in a tie with Dale Romans for leading trainer after winning two races Thursday: the second with War Struggler ($7.80), and the ninth with Swinging Gate ($11.60).

* Trainer Carl Nafzger said Thursday that his star 3-year-old filly, Belterra, will not race the rest of the year. Belterra was scratched last Saturday from the Grade 1 Mother Goose after coming down with a fever.