10/13/2012 8:02PM

Hawthorne: Two Months Rent relishes rain, soft turf in Hawthorne Derby

Four-Footed Fotos
Two Months Rent, ridden by Jesus Castanon, gets up by a head over Film Shot in the Hawthorne Derby.

STICKNEY, Ill. – Part of a successful equation already was in place when Two Months Rent arrived in Chicago from the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, his connections thinking the long Hawthorne stretch would suit a wait-and-kick running style developed five starts ago. When it rained buckets here with less than 10 minutes to post, the final variable fell into place. Two Months Rent skimmed over a soft course that slowed many of his foes, scoring a $43.20 upset in the Grade 3, $200,000 Hawthorne Derby.

The gelding’s trainer, Jimmy Toner, has funds for more than two month’s rent after Saturday’s action. At Belmont earlier in the day, he sent out La Cloche to win the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes, doubling his graded stakes haul for 2012 in one day. Toner won the 2007 Hawthorne Derby with Bold Hawk, who recently was retired.

Jockey Jesus Castanon, riding Two Months Rent for the first time, had simple instructions: Take back, let Two Months Rent relax, and attempt to make a big late run. One stride into the race, as rain cascaded through near darkness, Castanon felt like the plan might work.  

“As soon as he broke out of the gate, I could tell he was handling the soft turf,” Castanon said. “The horse loved it wet.”

Two Months Rent didn’t fall all that far behind a solid early pace, racing in seventh place after a quarter-mile and sixth after a half. Finale set the pace, tracked closely by All Stormy through opening fractions of 23.83 seconds and 48.71, a quick tempo considering conditions. Film Shot, racing along the fence while just in behind the leaders, scooted through an inside opening at the top of the stretch, taking a lead in midstretch. But Two Months Rent, still fourth at the stretch call, came with a good kick and ran down Film Shot to win by a head. The 3-1 favorite Lea, far back in the early going, closed well to get third while beaten almost four lengths by the top two. All Squared Away, the second betting choice, faded badly and finished last of 12. Two Months Rent was timed in 1:52.58 for 1 1/8 miles.

Two Months Rent, by Purim, won for the third time in 14 starts. He finished third in the Sept. 22 Kent Stakes, and – save for the Virginia Derby, where his saddle slipped – had run well in all his starts since a closing style accidentally was unlocked when Two Months Rent broke poorly in the Jim Murphy Stakes on Preakness Day.

“We’d been having him lay pretty close to the lead before,” said Justin Nicholson, racing manager for owner AJ Suited Racing Stable. “We really thought the long stretch here would help him.”