Flaming Bridle stays hot with dynamite Lite the Fuse win

4-year-old reaches potential with 4th win in 6 races, tops Van Groovey

November 21, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LAUREL -- Flaming Bridle had always looked good, said jockey Robert Colton. He was a horse who had all the attributes, but until three months ago, he had almost always been a disappointment on the racetrack.

Since then, it has been a different story.

When the third running of the six-furlong $75,000 Lite The Fuse Stakes was in the books yesterday, Flaming Bridle was in the winner's circle at Laurel Park.

The Lite The Fuse Stakes is named for the only two-time winner of the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. The late Richard E. Dutrow owned and trained the stallion who was retired to stud in 1997.

"Flaming Bridle was always close but not getting the job done," said Colton. "Now, he's living up to his potential. Now he's destroying the fields."

Flaming Bridle, whose name seemed to complement the name of the race he'd just won, has victories in four of his last six races and set a track record at Philadelphia Park in the process.

A 4-year-old sprinter, Flaming Bridle had gone off as the third choice here. He challenged for the lead when the gate opened, had a clear lead in the upper stretch and drove to the finish. He beat Van Groovey by 1 1/4 lengths. Chips Pride, a 23-to-1 pick, was third.

The finish was certainly a surprise to more than one jockey and trainer. When the race went off, the field was considered a closely matched one of eight veteran runners, with two elderly veterans appearing to be the class of the competition.

Say Florida Sandy, a 5-year-old who finished third in this race a year ago and before yesterday's race had career earnings of $788,567, was expected to run well, and so to was Cat Be Nimble, an 8-year-old who had won his last time out.

"He broke OK," said Say Florida Sandy's jockey Dale Beckner, whose horse had been off for six months recovering from a bone chip before returning July 31. "But he just never took hold of the track" and faded to last.

Cat Be Nimble, owned by Herb Moelis, was running only his second race since taking a year off from a tendon problem. But a victory here Nov. 6 was encouraging and Moelis was eager to see the result. But Cat ran wide and didn't show his normal speed. Still, Moelis said, "It's a major accomplishment that he's back running at all."

In the winner's circle, Colton said he figured this race would be a "big jump for Cat," and that Flaming Bridle would take an early lead and hold it.

"There wasn't a whole lot of speed," Colton said. "It was a very humble pace on the outside and when I asked my horse to go, he went."

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