Sylvia Heft’s Eighttofasttocatch displayed the controlling speed that had already earned him five stakes victories at Laurel Park when he defended his title in the $100,000 Jennings Handicap this afternoon.
Sheldon Russell was at the controls as the Tim Keefe trainee completed the one turn, one mile distance in 1:36.86. Eighttofasttocatch was in complete command down the stretch, sailing under the finish line 5-1/2 lengths the better of post time favorite Hello Lover, who rallied from next-to-last to take second. Charge finished third.
“When we turned for home I hadn’t really used him. I had so much horse when I asked him he exploded,” said Russell. “Tim had him right today. It was nice to see him bounce back to form.”
The son of Not For Love had not won since taking the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes in March, finishing off the board in his next four starts, including a dull fifth in the Maryland Million Classic two months ago.
“I gave him time after the Pimlico Special (May 18) and was happy with his performance in the Japan Association (Sept. 8) but was at such a loss after the Maryland Million. I didn’t know what to think because there was nothing wrong with him,” Keefe said. “He was coming into this race in great shape and we were fortunate there was no pace. The idea was just to go to the front and try to go as easy as we can and we think that is what he prefers. Sheldon did a great job slowing the pace down and things worked out well.”
Eighttofasttocatch paid $5.60 as the second betting choice.