Take a Shot LLC's Max's Warrior rallied from last at the half-mile mark to win a $4,000 claiming race June 2 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Ridden by Tyler Connor for trainer Kimberly Graci, Max's Warrior covered the one mile in 1:42.15 on a fast track and paid $7.60 to win as the second choice in a field of six. She became the third Fantasy Ownership Challenge participant to win a race in Pennsylvania in about a week's time.
Max's Warrior, a 5-year-old mare by Warrior's Reward, collected $6,300 for the victory and now has $11,127 in contest earnings. That moved her from 27th to 18th on the list of about 40 Challenge runners.
Remember, live racing returns to Laurel Park June 9 for the summer meet, which runs through Aug. 20 with racing three days a week on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule.
Fantasy Ownership Challenge runners Gethot Stayhot and Yes Mz Adah both won in Pennsylvania during the Memorial Day weekend.
Maryland City Racing's Gethot Stayhot shipped to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course May 27 and made the journey worthwhile with a 3 1/2-length victory in a $4,000 claiming race for trainer Richard Sillaman.
The 5-year-old New York-bred gelding, ridden by Angel Cruz, paid $10.40 to win as the third choice in a nine-horse field. Gethot Stayhot earned $6,300 to increase his Challenge bankroll to $8,745.
It was fifth race for Gethot Stayhot since the Challenge began March 18 at Laurel Park and his best performance since that time. The Maryland-based runner was the first contest horse to win a race outside of Maryland.
On May 29 at Parx Racing, Andrew Sulley's Yes Mz Adah followed suit with a gate to wire to win a $12,500 claiming race by 2 1/2 lengths for trainer Patricia Farro and jockey Emmanuel Esquivel. She paid $5.40 to win as the favorite in a field of eight.
Yes Mz Adah, who has been based at Parx, collected a first-place check worth $13,200, which pushed her contest earnings to $20,270. That puts her 10th in the standings.
Danny Limongelli's Flight Crew, who kicked off the Fantasy Ownership Challenge March 18 with a victory, soared to the top of the contest standings with a win in a $52,000 allowance race on the turf at Pimlico Race Course May 20.
Flight Crew, a 4-year-old colt by Elusive Quality, entered the race with $16,388 in contest earnings and sat 10th in the standings. The $29,640 winner's share of the purse on Preakness Day pushed his bankroll to $46,028, about $12,000 more than Indian Paint, who took a short-lived lead in the standings with a third-place finish in an allowance race at Pimlico the previous day.
Trained by Hugh McMahon, who scratched Ruth Less Blue, the other half of the Limongelli entry in the second race, Flight Crew made the most of only his second start on the turf. He finished seventh on the grass in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Indiana Grand last September but got the job done in the five-furlong turf event at Pimlico.
Katie Davis rode the winner, who paid $21.20 to win and covered the distance in :58.30 on a course rated good after overnight rain. Flight Crew was claimed by Limongelli for $10,000 at Churchill Downs last November and shipped to the Mid-Atlantic region.
(Photo by Tom LaMarra)
The drop from maiden special weight company and a stretch out to two turns agreed with Grace Isabella, who took early command and extended her advantage to 21 3/4 lengths after 1 1/16 miles under Edgar Prado to break her maiden May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
Owned by Mrs. Frank P. Wright and trained by Robin Graham, Grace Isabella, a 3-year-old filly by Jump Start, was the heavy 3-5 favorite in a field of six. David Heim, one of three Fantasy Ownership Challenge participants who "own" Grace Isabella through the end of this year, was on hand for the blowout win.
"It's pretty exciting," Heim said. "My son, Daniel, owns two horses (that race in Maryland), and I've been following the contest, too. I learned a lot at the (new owners' seminar in March) and I've been getting letters from different breeders, including Country Life Farm, which sent me its newsletter. It's a really good idea."
Heim noted one of his son's horses, Majestic Trick, is entered in the fourth race at Pimlico May 19. The 4-year-old filly broke her maiden on the turf last time out at Laurel Park and was claimed by trainer Ollie Figgins III on behalf of Daniel Heim for $25,000.
For David Heim and the other fantasy owners, Grace Isabella's victory was lucrative. Though the base purse was $33,000, her winnings for the race totaled $24,453 because she is a Maryland-bred and eligible for bonus money. She now has $27,153 in contest earnings and jumped from 24th to sixth in the standings.
Fantasy owners of the top five horses by earnings as of Dec. 31 of this year will share in $50,000 contributed by the Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The horses were assigned randomly from six races March 18 at Laurel.
(Photo by Tom LaMarra)
Triple Tree Stable's Claravoyant didn't win May 13 at Pimlico Race Course, but her solid third-place finish in a $23,000 starter allowance event padded her bankroll enough to give her a slight lead in the Fantasy Ownership Challenge standings.
Based on official earnings compiled weekly by Equibase, it's crowded at the top of the list of roughly 40 horses assigned to fantasy owners by random draw March 18 at Laurel Park. As of May 14, the gap between fifth-place and first-place was roughly $3,500.
The previous leader, Victor Santiago's Supervisor ($30,077), was a program scratch from a starter allowance event May 12 at Pimlico, while Timothy Hopkins' Whiskey Sour, third with $29,375, was a main-track-only entrant in a May 14 race that was run on the grass at Pimlico.
Gunpowder Farm's promising 4-year-old filly Indian Paint, who broke her maiden in her last start to shoot up to fourth with $28,300 in earnings, is scheduled to compete for big money Friday, May 19, on Black-Eyed Susan day at Pimlico. Indian Paint, trained by Kelly Rubley, is entered in the third race, a $52,000 entry-level allowance test at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
Maiden and allowance purses get a bump Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness Stakes days, and Indian Paint, to be ridden again by Feargal Lynch, has an opportunity to capitalize in her first start around two turns.
Rounding out the top five is Mens Grille Racing's Crookit, who won last time out and has $27,457 in contest earnings.
On May 18 in the fifth race at Pimlico, Mrs. Frank Wright's Grace Isabella ($2,700 in contest earnings), trained by Robin Graham, is 6-5 on the morning line to break her maiden in a waiver claiming event. Grace Isabella is not in for a tag because the connections of Maryland-bred or -sired horses have the right to waive it under the conditions, and on top of the winner's share of the $33,000 purse, she's eligible for a 30% Maryland bonus.
If you are planning to attend on Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness days, note that first post time Friday is 11:30 a.m. and on Saturday it's 10:30 a.m. The Maryland Jockey Club assembled a loaded 14-race program for Friday; the Preakness day card will be drawn May 17.
Note: If you have a fantasy horse, remember you are always welcome to come down to the winner's circle should your horse win. Just let someone there know you are part of the Fantasy Ownership Challenge.
(Indian Paint photo by Tom LaMarra)
In his third start as a member of the Fantasy Ownership Challenge stable, MCA Racing Stable's Hey Willie took advantage of a drop in class, grabbed the early lead and rolled home to win a $5,000 claiming race May 13 at Pimlico Race Course. He defeated second-place finisher Turbin by 8 3/4 lengths and appeared to relish the sloppy track.
The 5-year-old Wilburn gelding was claimed by MCA and trainer Claudio Gonzalez for $5,000 at Laurel Park March 18, kickoff day of the Challenge. He finished a good third behind two-time contest race winner Whiskey Sour in his last start, also at Laurel.
It only takes one win for a horse to put itself in thick of things in the standings. Hey Willie entered Saturday's first race with $3,015, good for 23rd in the standings, and exited with $11,655 in contest earnings. Hey Willie is now 14th on the list for the contest that runs through Dec. 31.
(Photo by Tom LaMarra)