Crosspatch digs into dirt for Find victory

Switch from turf pays with win over Eastover

Horse Racing

July 30, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Had the $75,000 Find Handicap remained on Laurel's turf course yesterday, Crosspatch would have been nowhere to be seen.

The grey-roan gelding has never run on the surface, and trainer Berkley Kern had every intention of scratching his entry from a race loaded with grass-tested veterans.

But Thursday night's heavy rain rendered the inner track unusable and seven others scratched from the field, leaving Crosspatch and favored Eastover to battle it out for the $45,000 winner's share.

"My intentions were to run on the dirt all along," said Kern. "I was hoping for enough rain to cancel the turf and yet have the track come up good and fast for this race. I got really lucky."

Basically, it became a two-horse duel, with all the turf specialists gone save for Cynics Beware, who finished second in the Find last year.

Crosspatch laid just off Eastover's pace for three-quarters of a mile, then eased past him and pulled away to a 5 3/4 -length score, his second stakes victory of the year. The winning time over 1 1/8 miles was 1:50 1/5.

"When the race cut down to five horses, the strategy was easy," said winning jockey Nik Goodwin. "I knew we'd be close to the lead. The inside horse [Eastover] wanted the lead going into the first turn, so I just took back and settled right behind him. I didn't want to get into any kind of speed duel.

"We just biding our time and when I asked [Crosspatch] to challenge Eastover, he responded very willingly and sprinted clear of him. I was surprised by how quickly we opened up. The rest was just riding him to the wire."

Cynics Beware rallied for third but was far from the top two.

Kern said Crosspatch has added some weight since the Pimlico meeting, when he beat some strong competition in the Jennings Handicap at the same distance.

"This horse has been training so well," he said. "The weight makes a big difference for a horse of his size running in these warmer months. I knew I had the best horse going in because he's beaten Eastover before [in the Jennings]. We just needed a good break and a smart ride."

The race was for older Maryland-breds. Crosspatch has now earned more than $273,000 in 21 starts, including the 1999 John B. Campbell Handicap.

NOTE: Laurel conducted its Summerfest celebration yesterday, with numerous events that included jousting exhibitions, miniature horses, trick riding and the always popular Jack Russell terrier races. Children 12 and under were admitted free. The live attendance of 6,188 rivaled the crowd on De Francis Dash day.

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