ARLINGTON-WASHINGTON FUTURITY | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 MILE
Susan Moulton's Solitary Ranger returned from a layup to take the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity in solid fashion Sept. 7 at Arlington Park, becoming his sire's first stakes winner and flattering the form of Group 1 winner No Nay Never in the process.
The 2-year-old son of first-crop stallion U S Ranger never took a breather in the one-mile Polytrack race, clear at the end by 5 ½ lengths at odds of 7-2 in a seven-horse field.
Solitary Ranger was second to No Nay Never by two lengths in an April 26 maiden special weight at Keeneland for trainer Wayne Catalano last out, before that rival went on to claim the Norfolk Stakes and Darley Prix Morny.
"I had a good trip," said jockey Florent Geroux, who won the Futurity for the first time. "My horse broke very sharp. My horse was a little bit fresh. Mr. Catalano said to make sure I had something left in the tank. I just tried to nurse him around the turn and he got very relaxed. When I asked him, he went all for it and won very easy."
Catalano said he plans to pre-enter Solitary Ranger in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf to be run Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park. The Juvenile Turf is a one-mile grass race, while the Juvenile is run at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
"The horse has a lot of talent," Catalano said. "Wesley Ward has a nice horse [No Nay Never] that beat him and he went on across the pond and won the best two races in [Europe]. That flattered our horse. I just pointed him toward this race the whole time. He ran a nice race. We talked about that he might be fresh. I told [Florent] to use his own judgment, but whatever you do, don't move too early."
It was a third Futurity win for Catalano, who took the 2010 edition with Major Gain and won in 2009 with Dixie Band.
Solitary Ranger and longshot Lotsa Mischief hooked up from the start of the Arlington-Washington, with Lotsa Mischief inching a half-length in front to go a quarter in :22.89 and a half in :45.43.
Solitary Ranger reclaimed the advantage approaching the quarter pole, however, and opened up turning for home after three-quarters in 1:11.95 as his front end challenger gave way and faded to last. Lotsa Mischief was the 120-pound highweight in the race, while Solitary Ranger and all others carried 118.
Under confident handling from jockey Florent Geroux, the bay colt raced seven-eighths in 1:24.83 while holding safe from Whyruawesome, who made a late run but lugged in down the stretch and never threatened the winner.
Final time for the distance was 1:38.17.
Solitary Ranger paid $9, $4.80, and $3.60, Whyareuawesome brought $4 and $2.80, and Cee 'n O paid $5.20 to show. Captain's Affair, favored High Roll, Joedini, and Lotsa Mischief completed the order of finish. Gone Mountain and Mighty Brown scratched.
The Arlington-Washington was a third start for Solitary Ranger, who prior to his April 26 second was runner-up in an April 7 maiden special weight, also at Keeneland. Bred in Kentucky by Richard Forbush and U S Ranger Syndicate out of the Lil E. Tee mare Galileo's Star, he has now earned $109,000.
Solitary Ranger went through the ring at the 2012 Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s August sale for $28,000, and raced for Marshall Dowell and William Pate for his first two starts.
U S Ranger, a son of Danzig out of the Red Ransom mare My Annette, entered stud in 2010 and stands for $5,000 at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.
A short time later, Holmark Stables II's local maiden winner She's Offlee Good remained unbeaten in two starts with her two-length score in the Futurity's sister race, the $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie.
Well-rated mid-pack off quick fractions of :22.66, :45.50 and 1:10.89 set by Richies Sweetheart, who relinquished the advantage to Tamazula turning for home, the Richard Scherer trainee shifted out wide at the top of the stretch and collared the leaders mid-stretch and held firm through the final yards.
She's Offlee Good, a juvenile daughter of Offlee Wild , returned $12.20, $7.40, and $4.80 while completing the one-mile trip in 1:37.98. The $56,400 winner's share boosted her career earnings to $79,200. She was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Jacqueline Smith out of the Dixie Union mare La Belle.
"I knew there was a lot of speed up front and the pace would be fast," winning jockey Eddie Castro said. "At the three-eighths [pole], I knew I had a lot of horse and she had a nice response the last part."
"I know she can rate so it was all Eddie's race," Scherer said. "I said if it's fast up front, you sit off. If it's not, you sit up there where you want to be. She does everything you ask her to. It was an impressive race and a nice ride by Eddie. For a second I thought she was getting late and tired but then she dug in and went on by. I'm extremely happy, of course."
WinStar Farm's Sweetsoutherndame, recently second against stakes company at Woodbine for trainer Tim Hamm, finished best of the rest from mid-pack to complete the exacta, returning $8.60 and $5.80. Maria Maria, racing in the colors of Curtis C. Green for trainer Jimmy DiVito, prevailed in a four-way photo for third after a less than ideal trip, returning $3.40 as the public's 5-2 choice. Tamazula, Istanford, Battlefield Angel, Gumdrop, Bellarada, Richies Sweetheart, Divergent View, and Look Who's Here completed the order of finish.
She's Offlee Good was a $15,000 purchase from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale by Royal Flush Stables from Taylor Made Sales Agency, and sold for $32,000 at the 2013 Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s spring sale of 2-year-olds in training when Tim Kegel signed the ticket from the consignment of Bo Hunt.