LAUREL, MD. 09-10-11---Sylvia E. Heft’s Eighttofasttocatch exploded by the pacesetters and won as his rider pleased in the $75,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at Laurel Park Saturday afternoon.
The race was contested at one mile on the main track after being switched from the turf. With regular rider Sheldon Russell attending a wedding in the United Kingdom, Malcolm Franklin piloted the 5-year-old gelded son of Not For Love. They raced comfortably in third for most of the trip before easing out at the top of the lane, accelerating to the lead and galloping away.
“I’d describe it as explosive,” said Franklin. “He was rating nice behind a horse. Once I found some room he kicked on and gave a nice turn of foot.”
The Tim Keefe trainee completed the distance in 1:35.43 and won by 4-1/2 lengths over Nacho Friend. Indian Dance finished another three-quarters length back in third. Eighttofasttocatch, who will likely make his next start in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic on October 1, paid $9.
“We knew the horse was coming into the race well,” Keefe said. “We gauge the Maryland Million so we have carefully plotted his races. It didn’t matter that the race came off the turf. He likes the slop or a fast track. The only question I had was our rider. Malcolm is a very good rider but he has never been on the horse. I tried not to give him too many instructions but told him what Sheldon and our plan has always been which is to rate. He did a nice job.”
Keefe is in Sandusky, OH for Sunday’s Revolution3 Triathlon and listened to Dave Rodman’s call on the phone. The 44-year-old is competing in the full triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile marathon) as a fundraiser for the Maryland Therapeutic Riding School (MTR) and Kimberly Clark’s Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc. Keefe’s goal is to raise $5,000 for each group. The tax deductible donations can be made by logging onto www.timkeeferacing.com.
“I am a little nervous but had a chance to walk the course today and get in a swim,” Keefe added. “Just waiting for the gun to go off at 7:05 tomorrow morning.”
The fall meet will celebrate 100 years of live racing at Laurel Park. The central Maryland track first appeared on the racing scene October 2, 1911. The first promotion for the centennial happened Saturday when the first 3,000 fans received a complimentary mug featuring historic Laurel Park headlines. The mug can be used for $2 draft beers on each Saturday during the meet.