Saturday afternoon, just after CREWMAN stunned the Arlington Park crowd by winning the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup, trainer Dee Poulos recalled a conversation she had with rider Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. over coffee several days before the race. Over that morning cup, he made a prediction: "Mama, we're gonna win the Hanshin."
Marquez proved a far better judge of his horse's ability and form than the general public. He gave CREWMAN a sharp and forward ride, CREWMAN dug in late, and they stunned the wagering public at odds of 25/1. This victory gave Poulos her first career graded stakes victory, after 20 years of being a head trainer on the Chicago circuit.
WYETH took the strongest initiative early, though VALIANT CITY came inside to join the pace as the field moved from the mile chute to the main track. CREWMAN pressed from the outside, with HOOTENANNY and GHOST HUNTER leading the rest of the charge. VALIANT CITY and WYETH bobbed through sharp early fractions of 23.38 for the quarter, 46.08 for the half, with CREWMAN continuing to prompt from their outside.
Moving into the far turn, VALIANT CITY gave way first and began to drop back along the rail. WYETH persisted, with CREWMAN to his outside. They spun the field into the stretch, and inched clear from the chasing pack.
3.3/1 betting favourite GHOST HUNTER was the only one to give them threatening chase into the final furlong. Approaching the sixteenth pole, GHOST HUNTER found a split between WYETH and CREWMAN -- but WYETH cut inside, closing the hole. Rider Jevian Toledo had to check GHOST HUNTER hard, but kept control and angled him outside. GHOST HUNTER found his stride again, and gained on the leaders. He ran out of ground before CREWMAN hit the wire a neck in front, stopping the timer in 1:35.06 for a mile over polytrack. GHOST HUNTER crossed the wire a nose in front of WYETH. HOOTENANNY, close to the pace early but unable to keep pace with the top three, came home another three lengths back. DAC, RATED R SUPERSTAR, TRACE CREEK, SURGICAL STRIKE, DIMENSION, VALIANT CITY, and SCITECH completed the order of finish.
CREWMAN had to survive an objection and an inquiry. The stewards opened an inquiry into the stretch run, and rider Jevian Toledo lodged a rider's claim of foul against both Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. on CREWMAN and Jose Valdivia, Jr. on WYETH. Remarked Toledo after the race, "I went to go between and the horse on the inside [WYETH] came out, but I think the other horse [CREWMAN] coming in cost me the race for sure. I had plenty of horse left, just nowhere to go."
Stewards determined that WYETH, who came in, had interfered with GHOST HUNTER during the stretch run. They did not rule CREWMAN to be at fault, and made no change since GHOST HUNTER crossed the wire ahead of WYETH.
CREWMAN is a six-year-old bay gelding by Candy Ride out of the Empire Maker mare Lake Naivasha. Bred in Kentucky by Emory A. Hamilton, he now bears the yellow and green silks of owner Dundalk 5 LLC. Today's Hanshin Cup victory was CREWMAN's second career stakes victory; he won the ungraded Forego Stakes at Turfway Park on January 21 of this year. The victory was his sixth in 31 career starts, and the $56,400 winner's share of the purse brought CREWMAN's career earnings to $232,824.
CREWMAN rewarded his faithful few backers with a $53.00 win mutuel. The exacta over GHOST HUNTER (9-6) returned $132.90 for each $1 wagered. A trifecta with WYETH third (9-6-8) came back with $499.60 for each $0.50 base bet. The dime superfecta with HOOTENANNY fourth (9-6-8-11) paid $688.77.
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