05/31/2010 11:00PM

Reachforthecastle pulls off $97 stunner in Ohio Valley


Reachforthecastle, whose odds were nearly seven times as high as the next longest shot in a field of six fillies and mares, just reached the wire first in a three-horse photo to pull a shocking upset in Monday night's $75,000 Ohio Valley Handicap at Mountaineer Racetrack.

The 5-year-old Reachforthecastle's last two wins came for $5,000 claiming tags on the Polytrack at Turfway Park. Her substitute rider, Luciano Hernandez, was 0 for 21 in 2010, riding mostly at Thistledown.

Reachforthecastle ($97) rallied along the inside of a sloppy, sealed track to get up by a nose over News Brief, who outgamed Southern Yankee by a neck. Sweet Goodbye, the 2-5 favorite on the basis of her win in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap earlier this season, finished fourth.

Hernandez, who had only ridden in one other stakes in his career, picked up the mount when Luis Gonzalez, who had been listed to ride, did not make the trip from Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa. Hernandez had ridden only one other race this year.

Reachforthecastle, 0 for 2 previously on wet tracks, was the lightweight in the field at 110 pounds, 15 less than heavily favored Sweet Goodbye.

In winning for the eighth time in 48 career starts, Reachforthecastle ran the six furlongs in 1:10.57 while passing four horses in the final quarter-mile. She is trained by Jose Lopez.

* The Maryland-based Crimson Comic returned to Mountaineer for the first time since winning a stakes in front-running fashion last June and duplicated that performance in the $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap.

One of just five horses remaining when the one-mile race was switched from the turf to the main track because of rain, the 5-year-old Crimson Comic ($4) cruised to a 2 3/4-length victory over For All Who Conga. Ridden by Ricardo Feliciano, who was aboard for the gelding's 3 1/2-length score in last year's Slipton Fell Handicap, Crimson Comic ran a mile through a driving rainstorm in 1:37.94, ending a seven-race losing streak. Trained by Mark Shuman, Crimson Comic is now 7 for 25 lifetime, with all but one of those victories coming on dirt.

For All Who Conga finished second, 9 3/4 lengths in front of Rogue Victory, a 5-year-old who earlier this year made the unusual one-race transition from winning a $32,000 claimer to running in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.

* Pardon capitalized on the switch from the turf to the main track to dominate the $75,000 Decoration Day Handicap for fillies and mares.

A 4-year-old filly who lost her first five career races while in New York, Pardon has now won 4 of 7 since she joined Kentucky-based trainer Jimmy Corrigan's barn. It was the first stakes victory for both Pardon and her jockey, Dean Mernagh.

Racing in second behind Best Reward, Pardon ($6.20) was sent to the lead with about a quarter-mile remaining and drew off in the stretch by 5 3/4 lengths to win her third straight race at Mountaineer. The time, over a track rated good, was 1:40.20.

Best Reward easily held second, five lengths in front of Musical Brew in a field reduced to six by six scratches when the race was taken off the turf.