Presidentialaffair has run of Classic

Elliott lets unpredictable gelding rule show, resulting in 1 3/4 -length win in Million feature

October 10, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The scenario was familiar: Stewart Elliott riding a speed horse at Pimlico whose Achilles' heel was too much aggression and too little common sense.

In May, Elliott, a veteran jockey from Pennsylvania, coaxed Smarty Jones to relax in the Preakness, and they romped to an 11 1/2 -length victory in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Yesterday, Elliott performed the same magic with Presidentialaffair, and the headstrong gelding relaxed with an easy lead and scored a 1 3/4 -length victory in the Maryland Million Classic.

The Classic, a $200,000 race at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, headlined the 12 Maryland Million races for horses sired by Maryland stallions.

A crowd of 16,339 contributed to a day of record betting on Maryland Million races: $4,642,444 from all sources, in and out of state.

A 5-year-old son of Not For Love, Presidentialaffair just missed winning the Classic last year, losing by a nose. Marty Ciresa, his trainer at Philadelphia Park, brought him back for a second try after a roller-coaster year that peaked with a track record and crashed with foot ailments.

Throughout it all, Ciresa knew this about his horse: You have to let him do his thing; you can't fight him. And Ciresa knew the right jockey for the job.

"He fits this type of horse," Ciresa said of Elliott, who has ridden five stakes winners this year for the 43-year-old trainer. "He knows not to fight a horse."

Elliott eased Presidentialaffair, the 7-5 favorite, into the lead from the 8 post. They nursed a 2 1/2 -length advantage through leisurely fractions of 24.36 seconds for a quarter mile and 47.84 seconds for a half mile.

When Aggadan, the 9-5 second choice trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. at Aqueduct, challenged approaching the far turn, Presidentialaffair repelled him easily and strode off powerfully, completing the race in 1 minute, 55.58 seconds. That was slightly faster than Smarty Jones' Preakness of 1:55.59.

Although Smarty Jones and Presidentialaffair are both speed horses who like nothing better than to run opponents into the ground, Elliott said, you have to handle them differently. You take hold of Smarty Jones, Elliott said; you gear him down. You do the opposite with Presidentialaffair, the jockey said; you let him roll.

And roll he did, justifying his favorite's billing and pre-race hype as the best horse running here on Maryland Million day. Presidentialaffair paid $4.80 to win and headed an $11.80 exacta with Aggadan. Trained by Ron Cartwright at Bowie, Irish Colony at 16-1 claimed third. The trifecta paid $98.20.

Elliott rode two other Maryland Million winners: Merryland Missy in the $100,000 Distaff Sprint and Dixie Colony in the $50,000 Starter Handicap.

"I've had a great year in Maryland," Elliott said. "I'm just soaking it all in."

Billed as Maryland's day at the races, the Million also provides friendly competition among horsemen for bragging rights. Three stallions produced two winners: Not For Love, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City; Yarrow Brae, who stands at Murmur Farm in Darlington; and Citidancer, who stands at Country Life Farm.

Allen's Prospect, Country Life's star stallion who died last year at 21, added a winner to his Maryland Million-leading total. He has sired 16 Maryland Million winners, five more than runner-up Deputed Testamony.

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