Scott Becker Sweeps the Sprint Stakes

STICKNEY/CICERO -- The name of one of Scott Becker's runners in the Third Chance, Win'em All, proved prescient.

Becker, who trains exclusively for owner William Stiritz, has been a perennial training champion at Fairmount Park but has made his mark in northern Illinois over the last year.  Becker won the training title at Arlington last summer, and won another training title at Hawthorne during the fall meet.  Going into today's racing, Becker topped the training standings.  Since January 1, he had had won eleven races and hit the board another thirteen times in thirty-nine starts at 35th and Cicero.  Today, he sent out two horses in the Third Chance Handicap, and two more in the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

In both races, the Becker pair filled out the exacta.

Third Chance Handicap: Win'em All Runs Down Doc Galore

Win'em All had won in Illinois-bred stakes company before, but it had been a while.  She crossed the wire half a length behind Missjeanlouise in the 2013 Lady Riss Stakes at Fairmount, but was promoted to first when Missjeanlouise was disqualified for taking in at the start.  Lightly raced in 2014, she finished a dead-heat third in the 2014 Powerless and followed that up with an allowance win at Hawthorne, but found company at Oaklawn to be a bit over her head.  From the start, Win'em all had always raced in higher-level company; she has never started in a straight claiming race.  Stablemate Doc Galore took a somewhat different route to today's Third Chance Handicap.  After graduating in a $35,000 maiden claimer at Arlington in 2013, she struggled for a while in allowance company.  She returned in state-bred $10,000 company after a seven-month lay last year, but rattled off a four-race win streak after being claimed by Tammy Domenosky.  Scott Becker claimed her out of that last win, and had run her in state-bred allowance company her last two times out.  She struggled in her first start for Becker, but on February 27 she won a state-bred allowance by daylight.  From there, she entered the Third Chance: her first stakes try.

The race drew a field of eight, with no scratches.  Despite Becker's red-hot meet, the bettors remained focused on a different pair of horses.  Scarletridgerunner had found stakes company at Oaklawn this winter to be a bridge too far.  However, she had won five of her six previous races at Hawthorne, and danced away in hand to beat Brazyn Appeal and Seattle Train in her only previous start this meet.  She opened up at 3/2, and went off the 2/1 favourite.  Exquisite Lady, a daughter of Illinois-bred stakes mainstay Lady Riss, was making her first try in a stakes race.  A frontrunning type, her recent form had been sharp, and she had won four straight allowances at Hawthorne dating back to last November.  This included a race two back in which she beat males easily.  She opened the 3/1 second choice, and drifted down to 5/2 by the time the gates opened.

Doc Galore broke most sharply of anyone in the field, and quickly opened up daylight in front of the rest of the field.  She led the field through honest fractions: 21.74 for the quarter, 45.67 for the half.  Exquisite Lady, despite expectations that she would be the speed of the race, did not go with Doc Galore; she settled in second.  Win'em All, wearing blinkers for the first time, tracked in the next flight along with Summer Again.  With about three furlongs to go, Exquisite Lady made her move, as well as Win'em All farther outside.

Turning for home Exquisite Lady backed out of it.  Win'em All kept right on going.  Doc Galore dug in gamely, but Win'em All asserted her lead in the final furlong to win by a length over her stablemate.  Dolly Peach, who had moved in on the inside approaching the stretch, held her ground to finish 3 1/4 back in third.  Karla With a K closed well enough to get up for fourth, eclipsing the fading Exquisite Lady in the final yards.  Fire Tricks, Scarletridgerunner, and Summer Again completed the order of finish.

Win'em All drives past stablemate Doc Galore to win the 2015 Third Chance Handicap.

Win'em All drives past stablemate Doc Galore to win the 2015 Third Chance Handicap.

Win'em all is a six-year-old grey or roan mare by Cherokee Rap out of the Air Forbes Won mare Win Won.  A homebred for owner William Stiritz, she is trained by Scott Becker, and was ridden to victory by Chris Emigh.  Win'em All started for the twentieth time of her career, and won for the seventh time -- including six victories at this distance.  Her dam, Win Won, was also campaigned by William Stiritz.  Win Won prevailed in the 2002 Regal Rumor Stakes, a race at Hawthorne that was not restricted to Illinois-bred company.  She also placed in several state-bred stakes races.  Win'em All was the first stakes winner out of her dam, though her half-sister Lose None placed second against state-breds in the 2008 All Sold Out Stakes at Fairmount, and third in the 2009 Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne.

Trainer Scott Becker thought both of his entries had a chance to win the Third Chance.  Said Becker, "We have one filly that's very speedy [Doc Galore]; we thought she would be on the lead or near the lead, and one to sit off the pace [Win'em All], let's see what happens...I thought anybody in this field today could win the race."  Though Win'em all raced at Oaklawn through the winter, Becker had his eye on this state-bred spot.  "I took her there to prep her for the races here.  The company [at Oaklawn] was just too tough...she was ready.  This was the ultimate goal."

Rider Chris Emigh's plan with Win'em All was simple.  Emigh intended to "Stay close to the pace, and hopefully I could have enough to outfinish them, and I did."

The Third Chance was restricted to Illinois-bred fillies and mares, Stopping the clock in 1:10.78 for the six furlongs, Win'em All paid her backers $13.80 to win.  The $2 exacta with Doc Galore in second returned $85.80.  A $0.20 trifecta with Dolly Peach slotted third returned $92.80.  The superfecta with Karla With a K placed in the bottom rung returned $336.34 for each $0.20 base bet.

Robert S. Molaro Handicap: First Stakes Win for Creative Art and Vicente Gudiel

Just as in the Third Chance Handicap, Scott Becker had two entries in the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.  One of whom, Luv Bandit, had proven himself in stakes company before.  Though this was just Luv Bandit's third race for Becker, he won the Lightning Jet Handicap for previous trainer Chris Dorris three starts back.  That was his first sprint stakes win, but he had won three other Illinois-bred stakes races going two turns.  Rider Chris Emigh, named on Luv Bandit, was also the more experienced of Becker's two riders.  A veteran of over 3,500 wins in over 26,000 starts, Emigh has dozens of stakes victories to his name, including fourteen in graded company.

Creative Art had not even tested the waters in stakes company until last December, when he blew the break in the Lightning Jet.  That day, he crossed the wire tenth and last.  He had won two open allowance races since that start, and Becker placed him back into stakes company for the Molaro.  Rider Vicente Gudiel had as many stakes starts in his past as Creative Art did: one.  His single previous stakes start had gone slightly better than Creative Art's: about thirty minutes before, he had ridden Doc Galore to a second-place finish in the Third Chance.

Eight horses passed the entry box for the Molaro, though recent allowance winner Gyp Rope was a scratch by trainer Dee Poulos.  Unlike in the fillies' complement, the betting public was right on top of the Becker pair.  Luv Bandit opened favoured, but below him, the early money was spread around between Jim DiVito trainee Jazzy Sun, 2013 Illinois Champion Two Year Old Male Rambling Richie, and Creative Art.  As post time approached, the bettors showed stronger preference for the two Becker horses.  Luv Bandit went off the even-money choice, with Creative Art sent away the 7/2 second choice.

Early in the race, rail-drawn Right Now Richie shot to the front, as did Rambling Richie to his outside.  Vbreeze stalked closest behind the leading pair, with Creative Art and Hawk's Image about three lengths back in the next flight.  The pair of Richies duelled to sharp early fractions: the quarter in 21.90, the half in 45.34.  Favoured Luv Bandit took up the rear early, almost ten lengths back, but had begun to roll through the far turn.

Entering the stretch, the field bore down on the battling pacesetters.  Vbreeze advanced first.  Creative Art turned four wide into the stretch, and Luv Bandit swung five wide to continue his rally.  Right Now Richie dropped back first.  Rambling Richie fought on valiantly after applying the early pressure, but he could hold the front no more come the furlong pole.  Creative Art got his head in front, and moved well from there.  Luv Bandit assumed chase on the outside, but fell just short of his stablemate.  Creative Art stopped the timer in 1:10.33 for six furlongs, finishing three quarters of a length in front of Luv Bandit.  Frontrunning Rambling Richie dug in for third, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner, marking the four-year-old gelding's first stakes placing since his championship juvenile season.  Vbreeze flattened out late, but crossed the wire a clear fourth beaten 5 1/4 lengths.  Jazzy Sun, Hawk's Image, and Right Now Richie completed the order of finish.

Creative Art flies toward the wire in the 2015 Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

Creative Art flies toward the wire in the 2015 Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

Creative Art is a five-year-old dark bay or brown horse by Shore Breeze out of Creative Miss (Creative.).  He is trained by Scott Becker, and was ridden by Vicente Gudiel.  Creative Art is owned by William Stiritz, though not a homebred; as with most Shore Breeze babies in Illinois, he was bred by John Haran.  His dam Creative Miss won five stakes race in state-bred and Michigan Sire-restricted company.  Becker and Stiritz claimed Creative Art for $25,000 in September at Arlington, and he has won four time in seven starts for his new connections.  It was Creative Art's second career stakes attempt, and his first career stakes victory.

This race was not only the first stakes win for the horse; it also marked apprentice rider Vicente Gudiel's first career stakes win.  Gudiel described his first stakes win as "exciting", and gave credit to his mount for the victory.  On Creative Art, Gudiel stated, "He's a really good horse.  I really appreciate that Scott Becker gave me the chance to ride the horse.  I really love the horse; he put me in there."

Becker stated that the Molaro was the goal for Luv Bandit, though Creative Art had been placed there based on his training as well as his performance in his last race.  (On March 15, Creative Art had beaten an allowance field that contained two other Molaro runners, Jazzy Sun and Right Now Richie.)  According to Becker, Creative Art got the sort of trip he envisioned, that "he would be laying third, fourth, behind several speed horses."  With respect to stablemate and beaten favourite Luv Bandit, Becker noted "He was back a little farther than I thought; he got carried pretty wide in the turn by my other horse."  Chris Emigh, rider of second-place Luv Bandit, also noted, "I was making a nice run, and my entrymate kind of jerked out into me.  I checked a little bit."

The Robert S. Molaro Handicap is a $50,000 race for Illinois-bred horses aged four and up.  Creative Art, who ran the six furlongs in 1:10.33, returned $9.00 to win.  The $2 exacta with Luv Bandit below paid $22.40.  A trifecta with Rambling Richie slotted third returned $14.22 for each $0.20 base bet.  The $0.20 superfecta with Vbreeze in fourth came back with $91.40.

Photography courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.

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