05.22.2017

A 'Keen' New Stakes Winner for Giant Gizmo

Keen Gizmo, bred and owned by Ivan Dalos (Tall Oaks Farms), made his third Steady Growth Stakes......

Keen Gizmo, bred and owned by Ivan Dalos (Tall Oaks Farms), made his third Steady Growth Stakes appearance his most memorable one, winning impressively in Holiday Monday’s $125,000 feature, at Woodbine.

Watch the Steady Growth Stakes

The six-year-old multiple stakes placed son of Giant Gizmo, bred in Ontario, finished second in the 1 1/16-mile main track stake in 2015 and seventh last year.

On Monday, he broke through with a flawless effort that yielded his first added-money score.

Eurico Rosa da Silva put defending champ Where’s the Widget (also by Giant Gizmo) in front from the get-go, as Nipigon kept pace to the outside, while Keen Gizmo, under Luis Contreras, tracked from third. The lead duo took the field through an opening quarter-mile in :24.53 and were still in front after a half-mile clocked in :48.43.

With his rivals turning up the pressure through the turn for home, Where’s the Widget began to fade, as Keen Gizmo struck front, going on to a 1 ¼-length victory in the 16th running of the Steady Growth, stopping the clock in a final time of 1:42.73.

It was fifth career win for the chestnut, who now has 16 top-three finishes from 24 starts and earnings of $336,423.

Contreras was relieved to see the quirky six-year-old gelding put together a giant effort in the Steady Growth.

“This horse always tries,” said the veteran rider. “But he’s one of the most difficult horses to ride. I just wanted to stay close to the pace. He likes to switch his leads a lot, so he loses his momentum sometimes.”

Today, it wasn’t an issue. 

“We’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse over the years,” said winning trainer Josie Carroll. “He’s his own worst enemy. He’s not a very focused horse and he’s always doing something silly where we miss races. Finally, he’s put it all together and done his job.”

Is he getting better with age?

“He was today,” quipped Carroll. 

Dalos was equally enthused with the mistake-free showing.

“He definitely has a lot of idiosyncrasies,” offered Dalos. “You just have to keep your fingers crossed that you get a good ride and nothing goes wrong for him.”

-edited from www.woodbineentertainment.com, photo by Michael Burns

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05.21.2017

Fort Larned Sister Triumphs in G3 Matron Stakes

Walkabout has mostly been known as the little half-sister to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winnerFort......

Walkabout has mostly been known as the little half-sister to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. But after Saturday’s $100,000 Matron Stakes at Churchill Downs, she can now be regarded as a graded stakes winner.

Unleashing a furious rally down the center of the track under Brian Hernandez Jr., Walkabout got up in the closing strikes to catch Improv by a neck in the Grade 3 Matron, a race that had formerly been run as the Arlington Matron before it was moved from Arlington to Churchill Downs this year.

Other than in pedigree, late-running Walkabout is a different horse than the speedy Fort Larned, who preferred to be prominently placed in his races. She rated 17 lengths off the leaders in the Matron, as Improv set lively splits of 47.03 seconds and 1:11.57 in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Even at the six-furlong stage Walkabout seemed to have too much left to do to win, still in ninth with nearly eight lengths to make up, but Improv began to grow fatigued, and none of the others in the field, including favored Curlin’s Approval, were doing much to threaten.

Walkabout, a 4-year-old daughter of Stroll bred and owned by Whitham Thoroughbreds, raced 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.06, paying $12 as the third favorite in the field of 11.

Winning trainer Ian Wilkes said the key to Walkabout has been learning how she prefers to race. For much of last year she was being placed only a few lengths off the leaders.
“She didn’t want any part of that,” he said. “She made us understand how she wanted to run. She wanted to be patient and finish off a race.”

A larger test may lie ahead for Walkabout with Churchill positioning the Matron as a prep for the Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur De Lis on Stephen Foster Night, June 17.

- edited from www.drf.com, photo by Coady

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