There was a lot going on Saturday at Laurel Park. Six stakes races, all run in a snowstorm that got increasingly heavier as the day went on. Although the snow had not yet reached its peak, the Miracle Wood Stakes certainly featured a lot of action, especially for even-money favorite Still Having Fun.
“His will to want to be the first one to the wire got him there,” Tim said Wednesday morning a few days after the colt’s triumph in the $100,000 Miracle Wood.
Still Having Fun fought his way to a second stakes victory, in similar fashion to his first.
“I was concerned when he broke so slow, then I was concerned when he was running last down the backside,” Tim said. “He gave every reason why he didn’t have to win. He never really had it easy, but he overcame everything and was able to get there by a neck.”
The 3-year-old broke lackadaisically from his inside post and found himself in last as the field raced out of the 1-mile chute. After briefly steadying off heels down the backside, Feargal Lynch stayed to the inside with the favorite and kept progressing forward around the turn.
Lynch and Still Having Fun were kept inside by their rivals as the field straightened for home. With longshot pacesetter Old Time Revival and familiar foe Wentz to his outside, Still Having Fun gritted out one last push in the final furlong to get up and win by a neck.
Showing the heart to match his talent, Still Having Fun overcame a slow start from his rail post to run down stubborn longshot pacesetter Old Time Revival and emerge from a three-way photo finish with a gutsy neck triumph in the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds on a snowy Saturday at Laurel Park.
The 23rd running of the one-mile Miracle Wood presented by B&B Commercial Interiors was the second of four supporting stakes on an 11-race Winter Carnival program highlighted by the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) and $250,000 General George (G3).
Last month’s Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes winner Still Having Fun drew the rail for Saturday’s $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes. The 3-year-old stakes goes as the sixth race and is scheduled for 3:00. Although the post might usually be a worry going the 1-mile distance at Laurel, we learned last time in the Whiteley that Still Having Fun has no problem taking the inside route and getting a little dirt in his face. Drawn to his outside in the seven-horse field are four rivals he soundly defeated in the Whiteley. Newcomers include Dynamic Asset and He Hate Me, the only other stakes winner in the field.
Still Having Fun has come out of the Whiteley in good order and Tim hopes the three-week turnaround won’t be a hindrance Saturday.
“He really didn’t need a timed work in between races,” Tim said. “He had a long, strong 2-mile gallop with Tattooed Friday. He gets a lot out of his training in the morning, he’s very competitive. He listens to his exercise rider very well. He’s not difficult to ride, but he’s a 3-year-old colt. He feels good.”
He also listens very well to his rider in the afternoon. Still Having Fun showed a tremendous response when guided to the inside for his stretch run in the Whiteley by jockey Feargal Lynch. Lynch can’t wait to get back on the colt, who he has ridden in each of his first three starts.
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing’s Still Having Fun came charging down the stretch along the inside to snatch the lead from favored Wentz and go on to his first career stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. at Laurel Park.
The sixth running of the seven-furlong Whiteley for 3-year-olds and the 30th running of the six-furlong Marshua for 3-year-old fillies were among four $100,000 stakes on the 10-race program, along with the Native Dancer for 4-year-olds and up and Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older, both contested at about 1 1/16 miles.
Still Having Fun ($7) completed the distance in 1:23.05 over a fast main track to kick off Laurel’s series of sophomore stakes that continues with the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 17, 1 1/16-mile Private Terms March 17 and 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 21, a ‘Win and You’re In’ event for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the May 19 Preakness Stakes (G1).
“I’m very proud of him,” winning trainer and co-breeder Tim Keefe said. “This horse has what you can’t teach a horse. He has the desire to win, and I don’t care what you do to a horse. If they don’t want to win like this horse does … He’s got talent, he’s got ability and he’s learning with every race.”