Long shot Hunter's Aim wins Awad

LAUREL NOTEBOOK

1 1/2-length victory is 2nd on the grass in three tries

July 25, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Long shot Hunter's Aim, avoiding the traffic that doomed his last effort, strode gamely through the lane and pulled away for a 1 1/2-length victory yesterday in the $50,000 Awad Stakes at Laurel Park.

It was the second win in three tries on the grass for the son of Jade Hunter, who returned $34.20 straight and set up a $243.60 exacta when Holditholditholdit finished second at nearly 9-to-1 odds.

Ridden by Larry Reynolds, Hunter's Aim completed 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 49 1/5 seconds.

"He seems to have a real future on the turf course," said Reynolds, who recently returned from an injury. "The trainer [Ham Smith] said to take him back but not to restrain him too much. We realized this was going to be a wide-open race and the horse has shown that he really likes the turf.

"He settled into his own spot down the backside and I just bided my time. When I asked him in the lane, he responded. We had a perfect trip."

Smart Builder set honest early fractions with Show King -- the third-place finisher -- stalking before Hunter's Aim took charge at the eighth pole. Holditholditholdit also rallied in a race named for one of the most successful turf horses of contemporary times and a Maryland-bred animal.

Smith said Hunter's Aim was purchased from his brother, Franklin, by Skeedattle III partnership. "They usually listen to what he has to say," Ham Smith said. "They've been buying horses from him for a while."

`Hill' favored in Delaware

California-based Keeper Hill, with Jerry Bailey aboard for the first time, is expected to reign as the post-time favorite in today's 62nd running of the Grade III, $500,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares drew a field of 13. Keeper Hill has earned more than $1 million and is the only two-time Grade I winner in the lineup. Her credentials include a victory in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks last year.

Fellow Kentucky-bred Crafty Oak, Tap to Music (who beat Keeper Hill last September at Belmont Park), Mil Kilates, Unbridled Hope (with Edgar Prado up) and Timely Broad are expected to provide most of the opposition.

Et cetera

Philadelphia Park will suspend live racing and training after its Aug. 8 card to allow renovation of the main track's surface. The work is expected to require about three weeks and will entail 8,000 tons of new limestone base and 2,500 tons of new cushion material. Live racing will resume Aug. 28. Simulcasting will be unaffected. Today marks another meeting of the Pony Pals Kids Club, the popular family promotion that allows children 12 and under (with an adult) to tour the backstretch and enjoy entertainment at the track.

Pub Date: 7/25/99

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