07/13/2013 5:29PM

Hollywood Park: Alpine Luck gets away with soft fractions in Hollywood Juvenile

Benoit & Associates
Gary Stevens guides Alpine Luck to his second straight front-running victory in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Once considered a 2-year-old who would be best as a closer, Alpine Luck has turned into the opposite in recent starts, a brave front-runner capable of winning stakes.

After leading throughout a maiden race over five furlongs on June 22, Alpine Luck won his stakes debut in Saturday’s $150,500 Hollywood Juvenile Championship at Betfair Hollywood Park. The common denominator has been the presence of jockey Gary Stevens, who has ridden Alpine Luck on the lead in both wins.

Stevens did not expect Alpine Luck to lead throughout his maiden race win on June 22, but used those tactics on Saturday, getting away with a slow pace of 23.05 and 46.67 seconds through the first half-mile.

“We went in 23 and it felt like he was going in 25” seconds, Stevens said.

Alpine Luck led by a length on the turn and by that margin with a furlong remaining, and won the Juvenile Championship by a half-length over Ontology, who was second to Alpine Luck in the June 22 maiden race. Willie B Awesome, second in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on June 15, finished third in the field of six, followed by Solid Wager, Bond Holder, Carson’s Ten, and Knock Em Flat, the 2-1 favorite.

A first-time starter, Knock Em Flat raced in fourth between horses for the first-quarter mile, and faded from contention in the stretch.

Alpine Luck ($11.60) was timed in 1:11.44. Third in his first two starts in maiden races in May, Alpine Luck races for breeder Heinz Steinmann and is trained by Mike Harrington. By Lucky J.H., the California-bred Alpine Luck has won 2 of 4 starts and $146,784.

After Saturday’s race, Harrington admits to being surprised that Alpine Luck has developed the running style that has led to two consecutive wins.

“I didn’t envision him being a front-runner, but that’s what he’s turned into,” he said.

Harrington said the tactics of Saturday’s race worked ideally for Alpine Luck, thanks to a large part to Stevens.

“You give Gary a 23 [second] quarter with a horse that has ability and you’re in trouble,” Harrington said.