09/28/2014 9:43AM

Gorham saddles four winners on Michigan Sire Stakes card at Hazel Park


Trainer Bob Gorham continued his run of success in the Michigan Sire Stakes, winning four of the six divisions Saturday night at Hazel Park.

The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based trainer, consistently one of the state’s leaders, improved upon his three-win performance during last year’s card, taking the 2-year-old and 3-year-old male divisions, as well as sweeping the races for older horses. All six races carried an estimated purse of $50,000 for Michigan-sired runners.

Equal Guard swept three wide under urging from jockey T.D. Houghton to snatch the 2-year-old males division by a neck from Victory in Motion and post-time favorite Bounce Back, second and third respectively, who dueled into the deep stretch. The son of Equality completed the 5 1/2-furlong race in 1:11.31 and paid $10 to win. Gorham trained the colt for owner Henry Mast’s Mast Thoroughbreds LLC.

The Sire Stakes was Equal Guard’s first victory in his third career start, improving his lifetime earnings to $30,557. He was bred in Michigan by Norman and Cecilia Richards.

The race bridged a wide gap for jockey Houghton, a native of Hazel Park, Mich., and once a perennial top rider in the state, whose last Michigan Sire Stakes mount was a victory in the older males division in 2009 aboard Bipolar Express at the now-defunct Pinnacle Race Course.

Scarlet Hour confirmed her position as Michigan’s top juvenile filly with an unchallenged, front-running trip, drawing off under a hand ride by jockey Jeffrey Skerrett to win by six lengths over Provocative Kiss.

The filly by Elusive Hour improved her undefeated streak to three, with earnings of $46,757. She finished the 5 1/2-furlong race in 1:09.01 as the heavy favorite, paying $3.20 to win. Scarlet Hour is owned by Laura Jackson and trained by James Jackson, who both co-bred the filly in Michigan.

Al’s Prayer added a second Sire Stakes victory to his resume, winning the 3-year-old males division on Saturday after claiming the juvenile division last year at Mt. Pleasant Meadows. The gelding won this year’s race in a similar fashion to his first Sire Stakes, chasing the post-time favorite Obsessionsoptimist, and taking command in the final sixteenth under heavy urging by jockey Ricardo Barrios to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths.

The gelding apparently was unfazed after breaking through the gate prior to the race, quickly being taken under control by Barrios and re-loaded.

He completed the one mile and 40 yards in 1:46.85, paying $5.20 to win. Bred in Michigan by Deborah Arnold Miley, Al’s Prayer was the second Sire Stakes winner for Mast and Gorham, improving the gelding’s record to five wins from nine starts for earnings of $104,409.

Synfull Tale quickly secured the 3-year-old fillies division of the Sire Stakes, putting away an early challenge from local prep winner Perfect Question heading into the backstretch and adding distance between herself and runner-up Afternoon Prayer in the stretch to win by 7 1/2 lengths.

Homebred in Pennsylvania by Marilyn McMaster, who also stands stallion Syncline, Synfull Tale was ridden by Ronald Allen Jr. and trained by Ronald Allen Sr. The filly covered the one mile and 40 yards in 1:47.54 as the favorite, paying $3.40 to win. She made her Hazel Park debut Saturday after racing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, increasing her win total to two from nine lifetime starts with earnings of $58,722.

In the older females division, Comeflywithanangel held off late pressure from More Red Roses to prevail by a half-length. The 6-year-old Equality mare pressed early leader Prayer Salute, then took command heading into the final turn, where More Red Roses took up chase on the outside. Skerrett earned his second Sire Stakes win of the card with an assertive ride to keep his mount ahead at the wire.

It was the third victory for Gorham, who saddled Comeflywithanangel for his sister, Marion Gorham. The mare finished the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:55.13 as the favorite, paying $4.40 and improving her career record to 12 wins in 31 lifetime starts for earnings of $138,042. Bred in Michigan by Guy and Deb Russell, Comeflywithanangel is a half-sister to the two-time older male Sire Stakes winner Power of Titus, out of the winning Rehaan mare C R Emmaus Road.

Gorham’s fourth and final win of the evening came with one of his most reliable old campaigners, Meadow Wise, who took control at the top of the stretch to win the aged males division at long odds, paying $30 to win.

The 8-year-old gelded son of Meadow Prayer sat patiently behind leaders That’s Mybuddy Boy and Equal To, then moved three wide in the final turn and assumed the lead in the final furlong. He crossed the wire in the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:54.60 under jockey Angel Stanley, two lengths better than the late-running Boo Dutton. Gorham trains Meadow Wise for his sister, Marion, and the gelding was bred in Michigan by James and Marcia Arnold and Deb Miley.

Meadow Wise notched his second career Sire Stakes win, after taking the older males heat at Pinnacle in 2010. He also finished second in his division at ages 2 and 3 and ran third against older males in 2012. He improved his career record to 11 wins in 50 career starts for $242,251.