04/18/2008 11:00PM

Ryan's for Real rides rail to Hartack win

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STICKNEY, Ill. - The second graded stakes of the Hawthorne meet unfolded much like the first one: Horse A sent for lead, Horse A, makes lead, Horse A stays on lead.

Two Saturdays ago, it was Recapturetheglory winning the Illinois Derby on the engine. Saturday, in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial, Ryan's for Real sprang to the lead from the outside post in a five-horse field. Challenged early, middle, and late by favored Fairbanks, Ryan's for Real fought back while racing along the fence, and eventually won the Hartack by 3 1/2 lengths.

Maryland-based trainer Dale Capuano said he didn't see the Illinois Derby, but he had a strong idea of what he wanted jockey Erick Rodriguez to do here Saturday. Capuano said that after watching Hawthorne on recent days, he concluded that "speed is good here."

"I told Erick to get to the lead and get to the rail," Capuano said.

It worked. Ryan's for Real, coming out of the seven-furlong Carter Handicap and the seven-furlong General George, outquicked the two other potential pacesetters, Fairbanks and Good and Lucky, into the first turn. Fairbanks, pulling slightly in the early going, was left playing catch-up outside Ryan's for Real, while Good and Lucky dropped back and never threatened. The pace was fast by Hawthorne standards - 23.61 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 47.55 to the half - and Fairbanks pressured Ryan's for Real to midstretch. But after losing the lead at the quarter pole, Ryan's for Real regained the momentum, and pulled away through a final furlong in a modest 13.32 seconds, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.18.

Fairbanks, sent off at 4-5, finished second, more than five lengths ahead of late-running Mr. Champ in third. Good and Lucky faded to fourth, with Mister Triester, who stumbled badly at the start, last. Ryan's for Real paid $14.40 to win.

Owners Bob Haynes and Jayne Marie Slysz privately purchased Ryan's for Real, a 5-year-old gelding, shortly after he finished fourth in the Feb. 18 General George Handicap. Capuano said he targeted the Hartack with the idea that Ryan's for Real, generally a one-turn horse, will be better at routing. It may be so, and Ryan's for Real's next start could come in the Pimlico Special, Capuano said.

Sixty Sails: Golden Velvet best

Trying to take advantage of a perceived inside-speed bias, jockey Mike Smith put heavily favored Tessa Blue on the lead in the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails later Saturday, but this time, speed didn't hold. The second choice, Golden Velvet, ranged up to challenge Tessa Blue between the three-eighths and quarter-mile poles, and it was Golden Velvet who pushed past and went on to a 3 1/2-length victory.

Louisiana invader Kathleens Reel broke on top in the nine-furlong Sixty Sails, but Smith was intent on the lead aboard Tessa Blue, and made his way to the front about a furlong into the race. Tessa Blue ran her opening quarter-mile in 23.97 seconds, and got the half in 48.31 before Eibar Coa, who was riding Golden Velvet, took matters into his own hands.

"When the other speed horses didn't show up, I had to do my own game," Coa said.

Golden Velvet was a willing mount. She took on Tessa Blue midway around the far turn, poked her head in front at the quarter pole, and seized command of the race in the last 200 yards. Kathleens Reel stayed on for third. Golden Velvet, a 5-year-old Seeking the Gold mare owned by the Darley stable, was timed in 1:51.30 over a fast track, and paid $5.80 to win.