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Silverfoot shines in Stars and Stripes victory

July 4, 2008  |  By Benjamin Miraski

It is tough being the old man in the race. But sometimes, experience pays off, especially when you have a jockey with the winning touch on your back.

Such was the case Friday afternoon as the 8-year-old Silverfoot came from last place to win the 77th running of the Stars and Stripes Handicap, a Grade III stakes race at Arlington Park. The gelding was ridden to the victory by Rene Douglas who won his sixth stakes race of the season.

The mile and a half turf race was dominated early by the long shot Rumor Has It. Jockey Eduardo Perez pulled his gelding out to a 12-length lead after a mile with the other horses bunched close together in a pack behind him.

Douglas was not worried about the long lead.

“I knew that horse in front was going to be dead,” Douglas said after collecting his fifth victory in the Stars and Stripes.

As the horses entered the final of three turns, the pack closed quickly on Rumor Has It, with Silverfoot holding the rail. It was all part of Douglas’s plan.

“I looked at his past performances, trying to see something in him that I liked,” Douglas said.

What he had seen was a single race that looked promising to him where jockey Mark Guidry had rode him on the inside lane.

As the pack swung wide on the final turn, Silverfoot had a clear path to the lead, with his white mane blowing behind him.

“I said to him, ‘If you want to go, go,’” Douglas said.

The off-white gelding took the race by two lengths, his first win since May 29, 2006, in the Louisville Handicap. Since that win, Silverfoot had finished out of the money for ten races in a row. It was his tenth career win, all but one of which came on the turf.

The winner, who went off at 5-1, finished in 2:30.40, and paid $12.00. Telling, at 14-1, took the place, while the 35-1 long shot Canela showed three lengths behind.

Making the board but finishing out of the money was Cloudy’s Knight, another 8-year-old trained by Frank Kirby. After the race, Kirby, clad in his beige 10-gallon hat, didn’t have any joy for the race his horse ran.

"My jockey ran him a mile and five-eights, the rest of ‘um run a mile and a half,” Kirby said in the tunnel beneath the grandstand as his horse was being cooled.

Julien Leparoux, who rode the favorite Lattice finishing last, was also at a loss for what happened.

“He was good during the race and then he had no response,” he said.

Leigh Bentley, who saddled Silverfoot for trainer Dallas Stewart, wasn’t as concerned about the race that Douglas ran.

“I was for a second when I saw how slow the fractions were, but this horse is always off the pace,” she said. When she saw him take off, she knew it was his.

The aging Silverfoot will return to home to Chrysalis Stables in Kentucky with his share of the $175,000 purse: $102,000.

   

Posted July 4, 2008 5:00 PM