10/03/2008 11:00PM

Ikigai works hard for the money

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Ikigai kept his local mark unblemished but had to work hard to outlast Dukes Flying Tiger by a diminishing head in the $55,000 The Kaiser Stakes at Calder. The Kaiser was originally scheduled to be run on the turf but was moved to a sloppy main track due to early morning downpours.

Ikigai easily handled mid-priced claiming and first-level optional claiming competition in his first two starts after being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson's barn earlier this summer. A 3-year-old son of Whywhywhy, Ikigai flashed his usual speed to dispose of an early challenge from Machismo, settled into the stretch with a comfortable advantage, but was fully extended to withstand a closing surge from Dukes Flying Tiger.

Dukes Flying Tiger was steadied back to last after the start, rushed to contention along the inside in the run down the backstretch, eased out to continue his bid turning for home, and was gaining steadily on the winner at the end. Lettie's Relic rallied mildly to finish another 1 1/2 lengths back in third.

Ikigai, who is owned by Edmund Gann, covered five furlongs in 58.60 seconds and returned $4.80 in a field which scratched from 12 down to nine.