Speed Rules in the Illinois-Bred Sprint Stakes

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — In both of the sprint stakes races on this brutally hot Saturday at Arlington Park, the public figured that a speed horse from the Larry Rivelli barn would be able to take the field gate to wire.

In both races, it was the horse who went along with the favourite on their inside who took home the spoils.

Addison Cammack Handicap: RECOUNT Rerallies and Repeats

Last year, the Springfield Stakes did not fill, so RECOUNT took on older for the first time.  It went as well as it possibly could have: he tracked the early pace, took command, and held off a late charge that included Jazzy Sun and two-time Addison Cammack Handicap winner SWEET LUCA.  The horse he tracked off of last year was Rivzinthehouse.  Rivzinthehouse did not return to the Addison CammackHandicap today, though he did win a starter-optional on the undercard today for his new trainer, Armando De La Cerda.  However, Rivelli had an even classier horse for RECOUNT to tangle with on the front end this time around: LEWYS VAPORIZER.

Head to head, 2015’s champion Illinois-bred three-year-old male LEWYS VAPORIZER had the advantage over reserve champion RECOUNT: their only head-to-head came in last year’s Perryville Stakes at Keeneland, where LEWYS VAPORIZER finished third and RECOUNT called in sixth.  Since then, LEWYS VAPORIZER raced just twice more, including a win in the Steel Valley Sprint at Mahoning, and then got a break.  RECOUNT raced through the winter and spring, beating older again in the Blackhawk Handicap and reliably cashing checks in allowances at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn.

Though a different kind of vaporizer may be verboten at Belmont Park, LEWYS VAPORIZER was popular at the Arlington windows, opening up 6/5 and going off the very same price.  Previous Addison Cammack winners RECOUNT and SWEET LUCA swapped second betting status, with RECOUNT eventually going off 2/1, and SWEET LUCA 3/1.

Favoured LEWYS VAPORIZER broke sharply — but so did RECOUNT on the inside, and CREATIVE ART in between.  It was actually RECOUNT who broke sharpest of all, kept his nose in front through a contested 22.56 opening quarter.  Coming into the turn, CREATIVE ART began to back out of it.  By midway through the turn, LEWYS VAPORIZER was calling it a day.  RECOUNT set a 46.03 half, but was not home free.  SWEET LUCA, last through the opening  furlongs, was making a sweeping run at RECOUNT.  SWEET LUCA ran down the pacesetter, and got his head in front with a furlong to go.  He looked primed to win his third Addison Cammack Handicap.

RECOUNT was not done yet.  Carlos Montalvo asked him for more, and RECOUNT responded.  He found his next gear, and put SWEET LUCA away.  SHANGHAI RED, midpack through much of the race, got second run.  Though RECOUNT was well clear, and crossed the wire safely in front, SHANGHAI RED kicked on well enough to overtake SWEET LUCA.  He crossed the wire two lengths behind the winner, and a neck ahead of SWEET LUCA.  ARMANDO’S STAR, CREATIVE ART, and LEWYS VAPORIZER completed the order of finish.  DOM THE BOMB and HE’SARULER were trainer’s scratches.

RECOUNT holds safe over SHANGHAI RED (6, blaze) and SWEET LUCA (8, inside) to win the 2016 Addison Cammack Handicap.

RECOUNT holds safe to win his second Addison Cammack Handicap.

RECOUNT is a four-year-old bay gelding by Limehouse out of the Bold Badgett mare Lucky In Love.  He is trained by Jim DiVito, owned by Doubledown Stables, Inc. (Richard Templer), and was bred in Illinois by Barney and Anne Gallagher.  Carlos Montalvo had the call on RECOUNT today for the first time.  This was RECOUNT’s seventh career win: his second in the Addison Cammack Handicap, and his sixth career stakes win. A $40,000 yearling purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October 2013, RECOUNT brought his career earnings up to $345,999 with the $31,482 winner’s share in the Addison Cammack.

Jockey Carlos Montalvo indicated that RECOUNT carved out his own speedy trip.  “It’s what the horse sent me to do,” he noted, “and everything worked out.  What else can I say?”  It wasn’t easy.  We had competition ever since the beginning, and he never backed up.”  Though the race was RECOUNT’s 19th lifetime start, it was Montalvo’s first time on his back.  “I went this morning to make peace with him, and it worked out.  It seems like he likes me.”

RECOUNT’s trip was not exactly what trainer Jim DiVito expected.  “I thought LEWYS VAPORIZER would be in the front, and I’d be behind him: as long as I was stalking, the horse was fast enough to stalk.”  However, once RECOUNT was on the front, DiVito remarked, “I didn’t know [LEWYS VAPORIZER] would stop that quickly.  SWEET LUCA made a big run, but this little horse has got a little class.”

DiVito indicated that RECOUNT would likely get a rest after the Addison Cammack Handicap.  The race was RECOUNT’s eighth start this year.

As opposed to stakes veteran RECOUNT, SHANGHAI RED was making his stakes debut.  Over recent years, the six-year-old gelding had been a consistent presence in the local allowance and higher-level claiming ranks.  There was already some stakes quality in SHANGHAI RED’s immediate family; he is a Newfoundland half to 2014 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante winner Tizgorgeous (Tizdejavu).  As for why it took so long to run him at this level, trainer Scott Becker quipped, “”Maybe the other horses running in the races before?  I thought he deserved a shot.  Each time, he’s running against a little better company, and he’s proved himself.  I thought he did everything he could.  I was happy with second.”

RECOUNT stopped the clock in 1:11.01 for six furlongs over fast polytrack, and returned $6.00 to win.  The exacta with SHANGHAI RED in second (2-6) paid $12.10 for each $1 wagered.  A $0.50 trifecta with SWEET LUCA in third (2-6-8) returned with $17.15.  A superfecta with ARMANDO’S STAR in fourth (2-6-8-7) came back with $12.05 for each dime wagered on the combination.

Isaac Murphy Handicap: PUNTSVILLE Remains Undefeated at Six Furlongs

By the end of 2015, PUNTSVILLE was making her breakout in the local sprinting ranks.  After a four-pack of allowance victories interrupted only by a pair of disappointing turf mile tries, PUNTSVILLE ended her three-year-old year with a decisive victory against Illinois-preferred company in the Pershing Handicap at Hawthorne.

While PUNTSVILLE was on the shelf, RICHIES SWEETHEART was burning up the grass.  The turf dash specialist, Illinois’s champion sprinter and champion turf mare of 2015 won the Lightning City Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in December.  Though she faltered against males in January’s Tampa Bay turf dash, she conquered the boys two weeks ago in Canterbury’s Honor the Hero Stakes.

The public tabbed RICHIES SWEETHEART as the favourite throughout the betting: she was 6/5 early, dropped as low as 3/5, and finally went off at 11/10.  KARLA WITH A K took a lot of early money, and sat the 5/1 second choice early, but it was eventually PUNTSVILLE who drifted down to be the public’s second choice, just shy of 3/1.

As expected, RICHIES SWEETHEART broke sharply.  So did LOOKING FOR BITS and PUNTSVILLE.  LOOKING FOR BITS eased out of the pace battle.  PUNTSVILLE did not.  She took it to the favourite as RICHIES SWEETHEART carved out a sharp opening quarter of 22:21.  Into the turn, they were head and head.  By halfway through the turn, rail-running PUNTSVILLE had taken the lead by a neck.  RICHIES SWEETHEART had no answer, and PUNTSVILLE marked the half in 45.16, a length and a half clear of her fading rival.

Turning for home fellow greys CHURCH ROAD and LOOKING FOR BITS began challenges to the leader.  PUNTSVILLE held safe from that pair, however, and crossed the furlong pole three lengths clear of CHURCH ROAD.  That pair flattened out, but DANDY GAL was moving well.  She needed to angle out for racing room, but closed ground quickly once she had it.  She steadily shortened the gap between her and PUNTSVILLE, but it was too late.  PUNTSVILLE found the wire in time, three quarters of a length clear of DANDY GAL.  CHURCH ROAD came home an even third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, and another 3 3/4 lengths clear of a belated LAUR NET.  CANETTE, LOOKING FOR BITS, KARLA WITH A K, WILDWOOD KANTHAROS, and RICHIES SWEETHEART completed the order of finish.  STRAWBERRY BOMB was a trainer’s scratch.

PUNTSVILLE (1) holds off DANDY GAL (8) to win the 2016 Isaac Murphy Handicap.

PUNTSVILLE (1) holds off DANDY GAL (8) to win the 2016 Isaac Murphy Handicap.

PUNTSVILLE is a four-year-old grey or roan filly by Cashel Castle out of the Petionville mare Deville.  She is trained by Michele Boyce, and was ridden to victory by Victor Santiago.  It was Santiago’s fourth time riding PUNTSVILLE in a race, and their fourth time winning.  She also remains undefeated at six furlongs on a main track: five for five, including two wins on the Arlington polytrack, and three over the Hawthorne dirt.  PUNTSVILLE races in the silks of S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership, her Illinois breeders.  The race was PUNTSVILLE’s seventh career win, and her second in stakes company.  The $31,392 winner’s share of the purse brought her lifetime earnings to $185,552.

Jockey Victor Santiago had faith that PUNTSVILLE could show just as much speed as her foe.  “Well, I knew there was a lot of speed.  But, they’ve got the same kind of speed that I’ve got.  She’s fast, too.”  The decision to stay on the front was a tactical one.  “When [RICHIES SWEETHEART] gets the lead by herself, she’s even tougher.  When I broke that sharp and I was there, I decided to go with her.  Then, on the turn, I was just getting on her.  Puntsville was doing it on her own, getting away from her, easy, without me asking her to run.  So, I was just waiting through the quarter pole to change leads and ask her to go with full stride. And she just blew away.  She’s amazing.”

PUNTSVILLE’s trainer, Michele Boyce, had somewhat different thoughts when her filly was on the front early with RICHIES SWEETHEART.  “I said, they’re setting it up for a closer!”  However, she trusted Santiago to ride, and “gave him carte blanche to do what he wanted to do.”  The distance played to PUNTSVILLE’s strengths: “Obviously, she’s a good horse — I’ve got a legitimate six-furlong horse on poly.  That was to our advantage.  But, the long layoff concerned me.”

Boyce has not identified a target for PUNTSVILLE’s next race.  “I’ve got to go to a condition book, or lots of them, to find a place for her.”  Boyce indicated the Chicago Handicap (GIII) was a possibility for PUNTSVILLE, but that seven furlongs might be beyond her best.

Scott Becker trains second-place DANDY GAL, who faced older this weekend instead of squaring off against fellow three-year-olds in the Purple Violet last Saturday.  On the choice to run DANDY GAL in the Isaac Murphy, he observed, “I just thought she would be better suited sprinting over this track than a mile.”  On DANDY GAL’s trip, Becker noted, “I thought she’d be a little closer today, but, [rider Jose Valdivia, Jr.] didn’t do anything wrong.  He just couldn’t get out when he wanted to.”

PUNTSVILLE came home in 1:10.87 for the six furlongs over fast polytrack, and returned $7.80 to win.  The exacta with her and DANDY GAL (1-8) returned $46.40 for each $1 wager.  A $0.50 trifecta with CHURCH ROAD in the lowest rung (1-8-2) paid $99.40.  The superfecta with LAUR NET in the fourth slot (1-8-2-10) came back with $95.70 for each dime on the combination.

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