09/02/2007 11:00PM

Ouzts wins Cradle on Old Man Buck

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Just 11 days after riding his 5,000th winner, Perry Ouzts achieved another major career milestone when he guided Old Man Buck to a popular victory Monday in the $200,000 Cradle Stakes at his longtime base, River Downs.

Old Man Buck, the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 2-year-olds, surged into contention on the far turn, then gradually edged away from Cherokee Triangle to prevail by a length in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Ouzts, 53, was greeted enthusiastically by the hometown crowd when returning to the winner's circle.

"I don't know what else to say, other than it feels great," said Ouzts, who won his 5,000th on Aug. 21 in the first race at River Downs.

After breaking cleanly from the inside post, Old Man Buck raced just behind Tovah and Tizthemaninthemoon and took a clear lead after turning for home. Old Man Buck paid $6 after finishing in 1:42.40 over a firm turf. Cherokee Triangle, the 5-2 second choice, finished another 3 1/2 lengths before the late-running third-place finisher Caberneigh, the 4-1 third choice. Then came Teeberry, Tizthemaninthemoon, Ari N Julius, Robbing the Bank, Tovan, Seaside Storm, and Brave Knight. Free Brave was an early scratch.

This was the first year the Cradle was run on turf in its 31-year history. Old Man Buck, a chestnut colt by Hold That Tiger, is owned by Larry Carroll and is trained by Ken McPeek.

McPeek arrived at River after being at Saratoga for the last several weeks. He left Saturday evening, dividing up the long drive between that night and the following day.

The victory was the third in the Cradle for McPeek, who previously won with Deputy Warlock in 1999 and Harlan's Holiday in 2001. He said the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Juvenile or the Oct. 6 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland will be next, with the Oct.o26 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf the optimum goal.