05/29/2017 7:02PM

Way Striking impresses in winning Jim Rasmussen Memorial

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Way Striking, with Daniel Cabrera aboard, wins the Jim Rasmussen Memorial by 3 3/4 lengths.

Way Striking, a 4-year-old gelding who appears to be coming into his own, set a strong pace and had plenty left to win the $65,000 Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes on Monday at Prairie Meadows.

Breaking from post 1 under Daniel Cabrera, Way Striking made the front into the Rasmussen’s first turn and, while hounded by American Dubai, set quick splits of 23.10 seconds, 46.56, and 1:11.18. American Dubai began struggling to keep up at about the three-sixteenths pole, but Way Striking wasn’t struggling at all, pulling away to win by 3 3/4 lengths. He ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.77 and paid $7.60 as the mild favorite.

Code West, who won the Rasmussen in 2016, appeared to have run while getting a perfect pocket trip into the far turn, but he, too, was left reeling by Way Striking, checking in third, two lengths behind American Dubai. Then came closers Concord Fast and Smack Smack, who were followed across the line by Snickerboxer, Jessica’s Star, Racer, and Bordini.

Way Striking is a Mercedes Stable homebred trained by the seemingly ubiquitous Robertino Diodoro. By Smart Strike and out of Indian Way, by Indian Charlie, Way Striking now is 5-4-0 from 14 starts. He ran a couple of big races last summer at Canterbury Park but didn’t progress much the second half of last year.

Way Striking won for the third time in his five-race 2017 campaign, and he was coming off a close second in the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes over a muddy racing surface that followed a pace-aided, front-running score at Oaklawn over the solid older horses Rocket Time and Neck ‘n Neck. If Way Striking is going to continue improving, he should be the leading local hope for the most important race of the meet, the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.