Cherokee's Boy has had a successful summer, winning three stakes races while continuing to train under Gary Capuano, and as nine horses prepared to run in yesterday's $100,000 Charles H. Hadry Stakes at Laurel Park, the former Preakness competitor looked ready to run.
"He's had a good career," said Capuano of the 5-year-old. "And he's a real consistent horse, always on or near the lead."
Yesterday, Cherokee's Boy was again near the lead for most of the 1 1/16-mile race, but it is the unexpected that makes a horse race interesting, and Honorable Man made things a little too interesting for the rest of the Hadry field.
Unforgettable Max, the favorite, ended up out of the money, finishing fourth, as the 6-year-old son of Honor Glades ventured far outside and pulled around five steaming horses to take the lead from Saay Mi Name a furlong from the finish.
He pulled away to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Cherokee's Boy was third.
"He gives his all," said winning jockey Steve Hamilton, who won this stakes last year on Irish Colony.
The Hadry Stakes is only 3 years old, having been named for Charles H. Hadry, one of Maryland's best-known and most respected trainers, who died at 72 in February 2003.
"The horse settled in nicely," Hamilton said. "We went a little wider than I wanted to go, but I had a lot of horse underneath me. He did the rest. ... We had to run down Saay Mi Name. You can't take anything away from that horse, but this one ran big today."
In fact, the top three finishers all ran big and left their trainers filled with anticipation.
Honorable Man's trainer, Ron Cartwright, foresees an extended career for his horse, who overcame a knee injury earlier in his career. Saay Mi Name's trainer, Wayne Bailey, was as happy as if he'd won the race, as he looked ahead to Maryland Million Day, and Capuano, who is also looking for a Maryland Million Day race for his horse, said Cherokee's Boy ran well.
"Saay Mi Name went to the lead and that was fine," Capuano said. "We backed off the pace and then closed on him, but he had a little more left and took off again.
"And Steve Hamilton is a smart jockey. His horse had a big strong kick when they turned for home and Hamilton knows how to finish races well. But I thought our horse ran a pretty good race. He ran his race, but the real long stretch, he didn't have a strong-enough kick to beat those other horses."
Cartwright said Honorable Man, who paid $12.60, had a slab fracture of his right knee and suffered from arthritis as a 3-year-old.
"But we took care of it and didn't run him too frequently," said Cartwright, who continues to pick the best spots for his horse, who has now won two of three races this year.
"He comes running when we ask him. He's a very adaptable horse. He'll go 1 1/16 miles, 1 1/8 miles if we ask him to. ... This race, the mile with so much speed in it, set up good for him."
It also set up good for Saay Mi Name, who is being pointed to the Maryland Million Sprint on Oct. 8.
"Whoever heard of a $100,000 prep?" said Bailey, whose horse won $22,000 as the second-place finisher. "But we used this race to ease into that race. I think we are going to be very dangerous. I don't know who else is out there, but they best come with their running shoes."