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Updated on 12/01/2012 5:18PM
Laurel: Despite stumble, Whiskey Romeo stays unbeaten by taking Marylander
By Joe DeVivo
Not even a poor start could prevent Whiskey Romeo from winning his third straight race.
Despite stumbling coming out of the gate and nearly unseating jockey Stewart Elliot, Whiskey Romeo made the lead and cruised to a 2 1/4length victory in Saturday’s $101,500 Marylander Stakes for 2-year-olds at Laurel Park.
“He was standing great at the gate. I think he just broke so sharp he just lost his foot, “ Elliott said. “I was really impressed the way he recovered and still took me to the lead without even trying. Once that happened, he was on his way. I had plenty of horse. He can run.”
Unbeaten in three starts, Whiskey Romeo ($2.20) completed seven furlongs in 1:25.10. A son of Forestry, Whiskey Romeo is trained by Tony Dutrow for owner Morris Bailey.
“It’s pretty obvious he’s a talented colt,” Dutrow said. “He faced adversity today which was great because all of them are going to be exposed to that sooner or later but we are happy because he didn’t have any trouble going seven furlongs and we can go forward with his ability to get more than six furlongs.”
Amerigo Vespucci, second behind Whiskey Romeo in the James Lewis on Nov. 10, had to settle for second best again. He was 4 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Hamp.
In the co-featured $100,000 Jennings Handicap for Maryland-breds, Eighttofasttcatch capitalized on the lack of any other early speed to control the pace en route to an easy victory.
Racing for the first time since finishing fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Maryland Million Classic in early October, Eighttofasttocatch ($5.60) covered a mile under Sheldon Russell in 1:36.86 for his sixth lifetime stakes win at Laurel. He also won last year's Jennings.
“We saw there was no other speed,” said trainer Tim Keefe. “The plan was go to the front and go as easy as we can.”
Russell guided Eighttofasttocatch through easy fractions of 48.30 seconds and 1:12.60 while opening up by as many as four lengths. Eighttofasttocatch was as much as eight lengths in front with a furlong remaining before being geared down, crossing the wire in front by 5 1/2 lengths.
“When we turned for home I hadn’t really used him. I had so much horse when I asked him he exploded,” said Russell.
Hello Lover, bidding for his 10th win of 2012, finished second as the even-money favorite. Charge was third.
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