Pettit's Quest hits dirt, surfaces with victory

Rain moves Finney Stakes from grass to main track, puts colt on new path

July 04, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Friday's rainfall meant a lot to area farmers and to the connections of Pettit's Quest.

With probable favorite Temptation Bound scratched and the race moved to the main track after the turf course was softened by the moisture, Pettit's Quest came roaring from behind to overtake front-running Smart Guy and win the $60,000 Humphrey S. Finney Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park.

"I was hoping the race would come off the turf because of the rain," said winning trainer Linda Albert. "I want to keep him racing on dirt."

Pettit's Quest, a son of Norquestor, has been competing on the grass in stakes at Pimlico, Monmouth Park and Delaware Park this spring and not enjoying much success.

The change of venue meant everything to a colt whose last victory had been at Laurel in December in the Rollicking Stakes on the main surface.

"I've been disappointed lately in his turf races, but the owners felt we should give him a try," Albert said. "I've only had him since March, and he's now just starting to settle and come from off the pace the way I have tried to train him. I think we can move forward off this race."

Smart Guy, sent off at 4-5 odds with Temptation Bound missing, set honest fractions during an early duel with Minister of Decorum, who faded to finish fifth in his first attempt at going a distance (1 1/8 miles).

Pettit's Quest was content to hang in the middle of the pack until the six-furlong marker when jockey Nik Goodwin started to move him on the outside. He gained the lead at the 16th pole and pulled off to a length victory in 1: 48 2/5.

"I figured a couple [would] go out and run together on the front," Goodwin said. "The idea was to get him to settle and relax and then have enough to hold the late closers off. It worked very well."

The race was restricted to Maryland-bred horses. Show King was a distant third followed by Big Brush.

Edward Krishack, owner of Pettit's Quest, said he owns Danielle's Darling, the mother, who is in foal to Deputy Commander. Pettit's Quest is a half-brother to Wycliffe Man, who won the Finney in 1997.

"We're committed to Maryland racing in every way," he said. "We support the Maryland Jockey Club's efforts to resolve the financial situation and make the future commitments to the racing industry here. We love all aspects of this game."

Dash nominees?

The preliminary nominations for the Grade 1, $300,000 De Francis Dash on July 17 include Artax, the horse involved in the bizarre incident on Preakness Day when a man stood on the track and threw a wild punch at him, grazing jockey Jorge Chavez.

The winner of that race, D. Wayne Lukas-trained Yes It's True, is also among nine early nominations. More nominees were expected before the deadline at midnight last night. The final list will probably not be available until Tuesday.

A riders' race

Jockey Travis Dunkelberger, listed as the 5-to-1 second choice in the mock odds, was the winner of the Don MacBeth Jockey Dash, a sack race in the middle of yesterday's card.

Dunkelberger got off the line quickly to beat 13 of his fellow riders, diving across the finish line before runner-up Steve Hamilton and third-place Cesar Calucag.

The event raised $1,000 from the Maryland Jockey Club to be designated for the MacBeth Fund for disabled riders. Additional money was raised via jockey autograph sessions yesterday.

Pub Date: 7/04/99

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