07/08/2017 8:01PM

Keystoneforvictory gives Maker another Stars and Stripes win

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Keystoneforvictory paid $5.80 in winning the Stars and Stripes on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – If he doesn’t yet fly an American flag in his yard, trainer Mike Maker should strongly consider it.

Maker won the Stars and Stripes Stakes in 2013 with Dark Cove, won it last year with Greengrassofyoming, and won it again Saturday at Arlington with Keystoneforvictory, who swooped past The Pizza Man in the final furlong for a 1 1/2-length score.

The Pizza Man, improving considerably in his second start at age 7, raced handily much of the trip, made a solid move to take the lead in midstretch, but could not quite finish with the winner. Applicator, often a pace factor, was held up in midpack Saturday, came off the fence before the furlong pole, and finished decently for third, just a head behind The Pizza Man. A length farther back in fourth came One Go All Go, who was part of the pace and held well for fourth while racing for the first time since November.

Keystoneforvictory was well ridden by Julien Leparoux, covering 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:29.89. He paid $5.80 to win as the strong second choice.

One Go All Go initially set out for the lead, but was supplanted by Mongol G, who soon gave way to Belomor, who opened a huge margin around the second turn and down the backstretch while running a half-mile in 49.80 seconds and three-quarters in 1:15.75. Leparoux had Keystoneforvictory settled comfortably in midpack, and stuck to the rail until he’d passed the three-furlong pole, swinging out to get onto the back of The Pizza Man for the homestretch. The Pizza Man launched a solid bid and got the better of One Go All Go, but Keystoneforvictory was on him just past the furlong grounds and went on to a solid victory.

Keystoneforvictory, a son of Shakespeare and the Victory Gallop mare Free Fee Lady, was purchased at auction for just $25,000, and has come a long way for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He raced in maiden-claiming company his first three starts and was abysmal in the first two, but Keystoneforvictory made steady progress through his 3-year-old season last year, and now has won six of his last nine starts.

“He’s a pretty easy horse to train,” Maker said. “He’s a win machine.”

And Maker – he’s a win machine in the Stars and Stripes.