`Strike' holds on by nose in Hine

Wimplestiltskin nearly pulls off win in stakes

Horse Racing

October 17, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Move to Strike has bounced between Michael Gill's trainers, but perhaps he's found a home with Ken Cox. In his first start for the Bowie trainer, the 3-year-old Maryland-bred captured the $50,000 Sonny Hine Stakes yesterday at Pimlico.

Move to Strike bounded into the lead, led at every call and then, after leading by six lengths at the head of the stretch, survived a late charge by Wimplestiltskin to prevail by a nose. Move to Strike completed the six furlongs in 1 minute, 10.59 seconds. He is a son of Two Punch and the mare She's Catty, a daughter of Storm Cat.

Coupled in the betting with Feb Eleven, Gill's other entrant in the race, Move to Strike paid $7.20 to win as the 5-2 second choice. The exacta with Wimplestiltskin returned $59.60, and the trifecta with On Thin Ice third paid $162.60.

Cox, 37, has trained for Gill, the country's winningest owner, since August. Move to Strike was Cox's first stakes entrant for the New Hampshire owner.

"Anytime you get an opportunity like this," Cox said, referring to the opportunity to work for Gill, "it's the chance of a lifetime. He gives you the tools to do the best with the horses that you possibly can."

Cox said Gill spares no expense in caring for his horses, including providing the best medications and exercise equipment. He said Move to Strike was recently gelded, even though the program and Daily Racing Form listed him as a colt.

The stakes is named for Sonny Hine, the Hall of Fame trainer who died in 2000. Hine trained in Maryland for nearly three decades. He and his wife, Carolyn, lived for 27 1/2 years in a house on Smith Avenue, a few minutes drive from Pimlico.

Carolyn Hine, who grew up in Highlandtown and lives in South Florida, and her companion, Gene Stevens, presented the trophy in the winner's circle. Hine said her husband, who trained Skip Away, 1998 Horse of the Year, would have appreciated a stakes in his honor.

But at the same time, she said, "Sonny didn't want any accolades for himself. He wanted everything for the horses and everything for me. He said it was payback time."

She meant that after her years of devotion to her husband's career, he wanted her to reap the rewards. As a birthday present, he bought her Skip Away, whom she lovingly called -- and still calls -- "Skippy". He stands at stud in Kentucky.

NOTES: Willie White and Lou Rehak, Clarksville residents and business partners, have decided to pay $135,000 to supplement their Mr O'Brien to the Breeders' Cup Mile. Robin Graham, who trains the turf standout at Pimlico, said Mr O'Brien will breeze Saturday and ship the next day to Lone Star Park in Texas, site of the 21st Breeders' Cup. ...

Kicken Kris, based at Fair Hill, will not compete in the Breeders' Cup Turf, said Michael Matz, his trainer. Matz said Kicken Kris is nursing a sore ankle and won't race again until next year at Gulfstream Park. ...

Graham Motion, who trains at Fair Hill, plans to start three horses in the Breeders' Cup: Better Talk Now in the Turf, Film Maker in the Filly and Mare Turf and Dance Away Capote in the Juvenile Fillies. ...

Michael Dickinson, who trains at his Tapeta Farm in Cecil County, will point A Huevo to the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash rather than the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Dickinson said that although A Huevo would have a good chance in the Sprint, he couldn't justify asking the 8-year-old horse's owner to pay $200,000 to supplement him to a race with a winner's purse of $520,000.

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