Updated on 09/18/2011 2:11AM

It's No Joke: A Gold Cup upset


STICKNEY, Ill. - Who knows what It's No Joke would have done had trainer Becky Maker chosen to start the horse Saturday in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. What he did in the on Saturday was win it, beating heavily favored A. P. Arrow by one length, and giving both Maker and jockey Eddie Razo the biggest win of their careers.

Maker entered It's No Joke on Wednesday in the Turfway race, and on Thursday in Hawthorne's, but it wasn't until Friday that she decided which way she'd go - Chi-town.

"I thought the added distance would be an advantage," Maker said of the Gold Cup's 1 1/4 miles, 220 yards farther than the Kentucky Cup Classic. There also was the perception that the Gold Cup might have been the softer spot of the two, and indeed, It's No Joke scored his victory after - and perhaps despite - running a final quarter-mile in a pedestrian 26.23 seconds.

It's No Joke did have a right to start tiring. He was the one who set out after Flamethrowintexan, on paper the lone speed, chasing Flamethrowintexan through an opening quarter-mile in 23.64 seconds, a half in 47.73, and six furlongs in 1:11.74. Early-afternoon rain had quickened Hawthorne's deep surface, but those still were fast fractions for this racetrack.

"The main thing was to keep him from getting in behind horses, to stay in the clear," said Razo, the Chicago journeyman who took a tough loss in this race last year with narrowly beaten Lord of the Game. Razo described It's No Joke as "a funny horse to ride," sometimes prone to going too fast early, at other times waiting on the competition. But It's No Joke put away Flamethrowintexan at the top of Hawthorne's long stretch and had enough in the tank to hold off A.P. Arrow, the 7-5 favorite trained by Todd Pletcher.

"At the quarter pole I thought he was a winner, but at the eighth pole I said, 'Uh-oh,' " said jockey John Velazquez, who rode A.P. Arrow.

A.P. Arrow finished eight lengths clear of the show horse, Kid Grindstone, who was followed by Summer Book, Flamethrowintexan, Papi Chullo, and Nolan's Cat. It's No Joke, owned by Stan Fulton, earned $300,000, more than doubling his career bankroll. He was timed in 2:03.89 and paid $17.80 to win.