Buck's Boy breezes in McHenry Ops Smile a scratch

Winsox leads early, fades

July 05, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Buck's Boy has challenged the nation's top grass horses and run in such prestigious events as the Breeders' Cup Turf.

So, it was no surprise yesterday when the gelding was bet down to 1-2 in the $100,000 Fort McHenry Handicap at Laurel Park.

Especially not since Ops Smile, who won the 1997 Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Day, was scratched by trainer J. William Boniface.

Boniface sent out Winsox instead and the Deputed Testamony gelding did his best to give Buck's Boy a race.

But the favorite pulled away in the stretch and beat Winsox by a comfortable two lengths while everyone else in the field lagged behind.

Buck's Boy finished a strong third in the Manhattan last month while taking on the likes of Chief Bearhart, who also beat him in the Breeders' Cup last fall.

Veteran jockey Earlie Fires changed strategy on the front-running Buck's Boy, who usually likes to zip to the lead and hold off the late runners.

"We wanted the lead, but we didn't get it so we had to lay off," Fires said. "Maybe this is a good way of running for him because he often loafs once he gets the lead. I was afraid he might again, but he held on."

Winsox set all the fractions under Edgar Prado, who had four winners on the card to pad his advantage in the jockey standings.

He was still in front after a mile with a quarter-mile to go, and surrendered begrudgingly.

"I could tell the pace was slowing down," Fires said. "I let him out a notch on the turn and I had plenty of horse at the top of the lane. He finished tremendously well. It sure was fun coming here."

Trainer Hillary Pridham said she will point Buck's Boy toward the Breeders' Cup again and will probably prep in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga next month.

"We took on Chief Bearhart, probably the best turf horse in the country, last time," she said. "We were looking for a little easier spot for him here."

Buck's Boy received $60,000 for the victory, raising his lifetime earnings to more than $750,000.

NOTES: The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association are forming a joint political action committee for the November election. They will hold a fund-raiser, a crab feast, at Timonium Race Track, starting at 6: 30 p.m. on July 27. For ticket information, call 410-252-2100. Owner Stephen Ferguson and trainer Stephen Casey have appealed the disqualification of Poopsie from a victory in the seventh race last Sunday. Poopsie was placed fourth and jockey Nik Goodwin was suspended (also under appeal) after allegedly causing the horse Maka Ina, with Alberto Delgado up, to steady to avoid clipping heels. Goodwin moved his horse out from the inside to find racing room. The incident is unusual because all three parties, owner, trainer and jockey, have appealed.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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