HONEY’S SOX APPEAL, HOLD FOR MORE WET WINNERS

Hold for More wins 10,000 Lakes Stakes

By JIM WELLS

Puddles appeared in the infield, in various places throughout the grounds and around just about any crevice, indentation or hole of any kind. Pathways normally associated with solid footing were flooded in low spots and impassable without an individual’s acquiescence to soggy footwear.

The lines typically seen at concession stands on Preakness Stakes day were smaller. Still, there were individuals among the press-box crowd who wondered if a queue might begin forming outside an imaginary ark they expected to arrive and begin taking passengers at any moment. It rained steadily for much of the afternoon.

Trainers shook their heads in exasperation. “It’s been raining for four days,’’ said the track’s defending conditioning champion Mac Robertson. “I feel bad for the Sampsons. And the track’s not real good right now.’’

But it was good at the right time for Robertson, whose horses ran first and third in the second stakes race on the card, the $50,000 Lady Slipper Stakes.

“I ran first, second and third,’’ he said. “I just don’t have the second place horse any more.’’ That would be Rockin The Bleu’s, now conditioned by Mike Biehler.

Just the same, Honey’s Sox Appeal, under Alex Canchari ran first, by 2 ¼ lengths and Thunder and Honey was there for show money, 2 ½ lengths behind Rockin the Bleu’s. The winning time was 1:11.91.

“First and third. Sisters,’’ said owner Bob Lindgren, referring to the dam they share, A J’s Honey.

Alex Canchari was aboard the winner out finishing  Rockin The Bleu’s, whose owner Jeff Hilger was full of hope minutes before the race. “We’re going to drain the swamp,’’ he said enthusiastically.

A well-timed line delivered in the relative safety of the grandstand where water pails had been set up in various stair wells and rooms, and some employees wondered if there was another building with more leaks other than the White House.

All in all, the turnout, 6,216, wasn’t that bad on a day designed for the fireside and a novel as opposed to outdoor activity of any kind.

The Lady Slipper has been run on sloppy tracks in the past, although nothing approaching Saturday’s bog-like conditions. That’s saying something, since the first time this race was run was 1985, the first year of pari-mutuel racing in Minnesota.  Trainer Chuck Taliaferro won the first two Lady Slippers, with Bold Polly taking the inaugural running.

The race belonged to Honey’s Sox Appeal at the top of the lane where she moved to a one-length lead, expanding on it as she lengthened her stride during the stretch run.

Honey’s Sox Appeal cruises in Lady Slipper

 

The first stakes race on Saturday’s card, the 10,000 Lakes, has a long and storied history as well.  Trainer Percy Scherbenske saddled a horse named Quiet I’m Thinking for Chet and Gerry Herringer in the first running, in 1991.

Rake Farms’ Bourbon County attempted to win this race for the third straight time.  He won the previous two runnings out of Bernell Rhone’s barn and made his third attempt under the hand of Robertson.

The race matched long-time rivals. Bourbon County defeated Hold For More, last year’s horse of the meet, by 1 ¾ lengths in the 10,000 Lakes last summer, his only victory of 2016. Hold for More defeated Bourbon County and Smooth Chiraz last year in the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint championship. Smooth Chiraz, on the other hand, won two of six starts last year, including the Victor S Myers.

There was a rider switch for this race involving the two entries trained by Francisco Bravo. Defending riding champion Dean Butler was on Hold for More for his sixth-place finish in the Paul Bunyan Stakes May 6. On Saturday, he was aboard Smooth Chiraz, the post-time favorite who ran last. Hold for More, was back on his game, meanwhile, as a 5-1 choice and left five rivals in his wake, finishing 2 ½ lengths in front of Bourbon County, with AP Is Loose, Robertson’s second horse, another length back.

The sloppy conditions did not worry Bravo, despite the concern of his barn assistants. “They were worried,’’ he said. “They worried about the slop and wet, but I told them it was better this way because a dry track here is deeper.’’

Orlando Mojica and Rockin the Bleu’s were on the lead, nose-to-nose, with Honey’s Sox Appeal in the Lady Slipper. He had different orders from Bravo in the 10,000 Lakes. “We wanted to be off the lead, not too far back,’’ said Bravo. “You get six or seven lengths back and it takes too much work to catch up.”

Mojica didn’t let that happen. Last out of the gate in the six-horse field, he settled Hold for More two to three lengths off the leaders and began moving him up outside three horses on the turn. He was a half length in front of Bourbon County at the head of the lane and 2 ½ at the wire, in a time of 1:11.19.

Mojica had responded to Bravo’s parting words in the paddock. “Don’t go to the lead. But not too far back.’’

Even on a rainy, miserable afternoon, plans executed properly can work out.

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