Afleet Willy overcomes poor start to win Richard W. Small Stakes

HorseRacingNation.com
November 11, 2017 10:48am
Afleet Willy wins Richard W. Small
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Overcoming a poor break that took him out of his usual front-running style, BB Horses’ Afleet Willy came flying on the far outside to pass horses and go on to a three-quarter-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small on Ben’s Cat Day at Laurel Park.
 
The Small for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles and the $75,000 Geisha for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and older at one mile were among six stakes worth $575,000 in purses on an 11-race program that included a tribute to the life and career of late Mid-Atlantic legend Ben’s Cat, who died this summer at the age of 11.
 
It was the second straight victory for the 4-year-old Willburn gelding, both in stakes, and each under jockey Jomar Torres. Torres won two stakes on the day The winning time was 1:49.86 over a fast main track.
 
Discreet Lover gave chase to be second, four lengths ahead of Grade 3 winner Just Call Kenny. It was a neck back to another Grade 3 winner, Watershed, in fourth. Claimer-turned-millionaire Page McKenney, a 13-time stakes winner, was fifth as the 5-2 favorite.
 
“He broke a little slow and I just tried to get him to relax. He’s a nice horse and he doesn’t have to go to the lead,” Torres said. “I sat behind horses and at the three-eighths pole I made a move and he responded pretty good. He ran big today.”
 
Discreet Lover, who ran fifth to Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner twice over the summer at Saratoga, ran the opening quarter-mile in 24.81 seconds with Watershed taking over after a half in 49.42 while Page McKenney found himself pinned down inside of horses in fourth.
 
Torres gave Afleet Willy clear run and they moved into a contending position through six furlongs in 1:13.25, ranging up to take the lead at the top of the stretch and closing stoutly down the center of the track for his 10th career victory.
 
“He broke really bad and I was worried. He had to check right on the turn and then he had to run all the way outside,” winning trainer Claudio Gonzalez said. “He’s been doing really good. He breezed good and was training good and doing everything really good.
 
“At the half-mile pole he passed everybody, and they went an easy pace. They went in 24 and if he breaks good he would have been five in front. He would have gone in 23, easy. I’m very proud of the horse. He ran really good. He loves it here. He’s a good horse. These were some really nice horses.”
 
My Magician Popular Winner of $75,000 Geisha
 
Euro Stable’s My Magician, favored at 3-5 in a field of six fillies and mares, swept to the lead on the far outside and drew off down the stretch to win the $75,000 Geisha by 2 ¼ lengths.
 
It was the third career stakes win for My Magician ($3.40) and second in five starts since being claimed by Laurel fall meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez for $25,000 in mid-May. The 5-year-old mare ran one mile in 1:37.20.
 
Stretched out another furlong following her narrow half-length loss to multiple stakes winner Crabcakes in the Maryland Million Distaff Oct. 21, My Magician settled in fifth behind pacesetting stablemate Miss Nosy, a winner of her previous three races who led through fractions of 24.33 and 47.80 seconds.
 
My Magician met no resistance in taking the lead and sprinted clear with Moon Virginia coming on for second, a half-length ahead of Lucky in Malibu, followed by Wowwhatabrat, Miss Nosy and Rockin Jojo.

Source: Maryland Jockey Club

 

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