12/05/2011 11:14AM

McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series Finals: Contender profiles

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series Finals are coming up on Wednesday, offering a $26,900 purse. The first two legs have not only produced some exciting racing, but four separate winners in the four divisions, and tons of action at the claiming box. The McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series Finals will be race 6 on Wednesday, and post time is 2:20 p.m. Pacific. 

Here is a profile of the contenders in the finals:

1. Swiss Exploit

Owner: Bob and Pat Cosgrove

Trainer: Jonathan Nance

Jockey: Marijo Terleski

Leg 1: 5th place (Division 2)

Leg 2: 5th place (Division 1)

Came running on late in Leg 1 to get up for fifth, but couldn’t follow that up in Leg 2 as he ran a very dull fifth, more than 13 lengths behind the winner.  Has to improve to contend in the finals, but it certainly isn’t out of the question for him to hit the board. 

2. Castle Pines

Owner: Charles Holshouser

Trainer: Nick Lowe

Jockey:  Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo

Leg 1:  6th place (Division 1)

Leg 2:  3rd place (Division 2)

Definitely had a wide journey in Leg 1 and came back in Leg 2 and ran an improved race. In fact, turning into the homestretch, it appeared he had a shot to win, but couldn’t quite sustain the bid after being wide. Nick Lowe and Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo have hooked up previously in big races, including a win with Beacon Rock in the 2009 Os West Futurity. 

3. Taking Liberties

Owner: Howard Belvoir

Trainer: Howard Belvoir

Jockey:  Javier Matias

Leg 1:  3rd place (Division 2)

Leg 2:  1st place (Division 1)

Was a big longshot in Leg 1 but certainly ran well from off the pace to go right with D. Devil and Roaring To Go, plus he was having to overcome the widest journey of any runner. In Leg 2, jockey Javier Matias wisely took advantage of a lack of early pace and quickly went toward the front and sat right off the hip of Hit the Juice, and pounced on that rival before drawing away to a near two-length score. A very tactical horse who will certainly be well-backed in the finals. 

4. Colonel Courtney

Owner: Michael Pollowitz

Trainer: Guru Dharma Khalsa

Jockey:  Juan Gutierrez

Leg 1: 2nd place (Division 1)

Leg 2: 4th place (Division 2)

Got first run on Rallying Cry in Leg 1 but couldn’t hold him off. This horse is a warrior and will show up and run hard every time. He had a very clear trip and made his move pretty early on the turn in Leg 1. Came back in Leg 2 for new trainer Roger Stevenson with Juan Gutierrez back in the saddle, and just seemed uncomfortable for much of the trip and was caught down on the rail the whole way.  New connections had great success in turning Declan Downs around in Leg 2 before losing him to the claim -- maybe they can do the same with “The Colonel.”

5. Declan Downs

Owner: Jim Fergason

Trainer: Jim Fergason

Jockey:  Mark Anderson

Leg 1: 4th place (Division 2)

Leg 2: 1st place (Division 2)

Was claimed out of Leg 1 and was part of the duel on the front end; the only difference between this guy and the other front-runner was that he was still around with at least a fighting chance in the final 100 yards. Wasn’t beaten by much, and on that day hardly anyone was winning on the lead. Leg 2 was a different story as he broke well and never looked back, galloping to a very strong win. Was claimed again out of Leg 2, and this time goes to the barn of Jim Fergason. 

6. Hit The Juice

Owner: Mike and Keith Thompson

Trainer: Mike Thompson

Jockey:  Luis Gonzalez

Leg 1: 7th place (Division 2)

Leg 2: 6th place (Division 1)

Has pretty much just been a pace factor in both legs and will certainly be a factor in the finals, strictly because he will be a strong presence in the early pace scenario. 

7. D. Devil

Owner: Marsha Honda

Trainer: Rigoberto Velazquez

Jockey: Jose Zunino

Leg 1:  1st place (Division 2)

Leg 2:  2nd place (Division 1)

A veteran Oregon-bred who will be making career start No. 101 in the finals, D. Devil came from off the pace and really enjoyed an ideal setup in Leg 1 as horses dueled each other into submission in front of him. Jockey Jose Zunino employed similar tactics in Leg 2. The track was much more favorable to early speed than it was in Leg 1, yet D. Devil still came running hard and was closing late, getting up for second place and putting himself at the top of the point standings as the runners head into the finals. Should love the six-furlong distance in the finals. 

8. Inhoc Signo Vinces

Owner: Michael Pollowitz

Trainer: Guru Dharma Khalsa

Jockey:  Rocco Bowen

Leg 1: 8th place after DQ (Division 1)

Leg 2:  3rd place (Division 1)

Finished third but was disqualified for sawing off Alybye on Fire while weaving his way through traffic in Leg 1. Might have deceptively run the best race in Leg 1 as he broke well and dropped back early before re-rallying and having to make his way through traffic. Came back in Leg 2 and ran a somewhat even third, but was well-beaten that day and has to improve to get to the wire first in the finals.

9. Smoken Sham

Owner:  Bob and Mike Cosgrove

Trainer: Jonathan Nance

Jockey: Joe Crispin

Leg 1:  3rd place (Division 1)

Leg 2:  5th place (Division 2)

Was always close up in Leg 1 and was down on the rail the whole time, which wasn’t really the place to be that day. Couldn’t quite stick with the winners in Leg 1 and regressed a bit in Leg 2 as he was chasing the leaders, but got caught a little wide doing so and weakened down the lane. Will have to step up his game, but has a hot rider and a very solid trainer, so might offer some value.

10. Roaring To Go

Owner: Tom Roberts and Jerry Hollendorfer

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Jockey:  Kevin Krigger

Leg 1:  2nd place (Division 2)

Leg 2:  2nd place (Division 2)

In Leg 1, was ridden somewhat hard early on and couldn’t keep up with the two who went up front, but still managed to eventually pass them both. Also was keeping pace with the winner and had to dive to the inside late while going around the erratic Declan Downs and might have lost some ground because of that; however, the move was actually a smart and necessary one. Might have sneakily ran the best race in his division in Leg 1. Came back with a really strong closing second on a day where it was advantageous to be on the lead. Really interesting that Hollendorfer chose this one to claim for the finals; certainly a contender.