|Fit To Fly Wins $315,097 Texas
(Friday, November 29, 2002) - Saturday’s
closing day program at Lone Star Park, headlined by the Grade 1
Texas Classic Futurity, the state’s first million-dollar horse
race, has a tough act to follow. A crowd of 5,881 attended the North
Texas racetrack Friday night and witnessed Fit To Fly post the biggest
upset in the Grade 1, $315,097 Texas Classic Derby. Just two races
later, champion mare Significant Speed edged two-time AQHA world
champ Tailor Fit in the Grade 2, $50,000 Refrigerator Handicap to
give jockey Roy Baldillez his record fifth win of the night.
Fit To Fly, a full brother to Tailor Fit, finally lived up to the
high expectations of his bloodlines with a hard-fought neck victory
over 9-5 favorite A Real Man in the Texas Classic Derby. Dash For
Cash Derby winner First Regards was another neck back in third.
The 3-year-old son of Strawfly Special out of the On A High mare
Silk Skirt ran 440 yards on a fast track in :21.30, the third fastest
of 10 editions of the race.
Jerry Lee Yoakum, tacking 124 pounds, rode the winner for trainer
Jack Brooks, who recorded his third Grade 1 victory of the Lone
Star Park meet. The legendary horsemen also trains First Regards
and Dash For Cash Futurity winner Silvered Eyes.
Brooks swept both of Lone Star Park’s Grade 1 derbies for
the second time. He first accomplished the feat in 1997 with champion
Dashing Perfection, who still holds the :21.08 stakes and track
“I was really pleased with him,” Brooks said of California-bred
Fit To Fly. “We thought all year that this colt would come
up and run a big race. Jerry and I both thought down at Ruidoso
that one of these days he’d sneak up and win a derby. Sure
enough, he did.”
Fit To Fly was the second longest shot in the field of 10 at odds
of 35-1 and paid $73.60 to win. It was only his third win in 18
starts. The $126,039 winner’s share of the purse boosted his
earnings to $148,177 for owners Carol and William Smith of Claremore,
“This horse really has a big kick,” Brooks said. “If
he can get away and find a place to run down the racetrack, he can
really do some running. Sometimes, he can get into trouble and have
nowhere to run. Today he had a place to run and that horse beside
him (A Real Man) really made him run.”
“This horse made a big run about halfway down the racetrack,”
Yoakum said. “He had another gear and just came rolling. He
got away [from the starting gate] decent, but [A Real Man] had him
pretty good…but he finally put it together tonight.”
Mr Mallard, Dashin For Penny, Pretty Boy Perry, High Strideing
Hero, Party Man Can, Dashin Prince Henry and Gray Invasion completed
the order of finish.
In the Refrigerator, Significant Speed and Tailor Fit dueled down
the stretch in arguably the best race of the meet. In the end, the
sometimes-skittish mare proved best with a head victory over Tailor
Fit and seven other males. It was the 5-year-old’s second
stakes win of the meet. Earlier she captured the 6666 Ranch Handicap
after a second in the B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap on opening night.
Significant Speed, owned by Gus Barakis’ Scarlett Hill Farm
and trained by “Sleepy” Gilbreath, covered 440 yards
in :21.47 and paid $5.40 to win as the favorite.
Two years ago, she won the Dash For Cash Derby at Lone Star Park
during a campaign when she was crowned the 2000 champion 3-year-old
filly. Overall, it was her 13th win in 31 career starts. The $28,500
winner’s share of the purse padded her bankroll to $516,345.
“This has to rank with one of the best races she’s
ever run,” Barakis said. “She ran a super race this
year at Ruidoso in the All American Gold Cup. I just told [Tailor
Fit’s trainer] Janet Van Bebber that her old warrior ran one
heck of a race tonight. I thought he put out a tremendous effort.
This mare just did get by him. Both of them, I thought, kind of
slipped and slipped a little early, but when they got a hold of
that racetrack, they really came down there. They just wouldn’t
be denied, either one of them.”
With the win, Significant Speed qualified to the $350,000 Championship
at Sunland Park on Dec. 28.
For Baldillez, who carried 125 pounds aboard Significant Speed
en route to victory, it was his fifth win of the night – a
Fall Meeting of Champions record at Lone Star Park. Baldillez was
one of seven jockeys to have recorded a four-win night (he did it
three times). The record tally on Friday moved him atop the jockey
standings in the track’s most competitive race for the riding
title in history. Baldillez has 27 wins, followed by John Hamilton’s
26, Gilbert Ortiz’s 25 and Randy Wilson and Alvin Brossette’s
“It’s not over ‘til it’s over,” Baldillez
Early on in the night, Bobby Cox’s Gone Celebrating was victorious
in the $25,000 Texas Classic Derby Consolation for jockey Juan Vazquez
and trainer John Buchanan.