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Strike Again Wins Buddy D., Valli With a Vow in Pago Hop
Pin Oak Stable’s Strike Again caught even-money favorite Gran Estreno just steps from the wire to register a three-quarter length mild upset in Saturday’s fifth running of the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap.
Two races later Darrell and Lendy Brown’s Valli With a Vow scored another mild upset in the 25th anniversary edition of the $60,000 Pago Hop Stakes on Saturday’s two-stakes afternoon at Fair Grounds
In the Buddy Diliberto ’Cap, named in honor the late local television and radio personality, Strike Again, saddled by Malcolm Pierce who won this race three years ago with Live Oak Plantation’s Autobahn Girl, responded to a well judged late surge under jockey Miguel Mena to upset the Argentine-bred choice of the fan, who held on to be clearly second best.
“I had a good trip and was able to keep off the pace and make my late run on the outside,” said Mena, who kept Strike Again wide on both turns to stay clear of traffic.
Trainer Pierce was even more modest: “I just got this horse a week ago,” said the affable Canadian conditioner. “Donnie K. Von Hemel (Midwest-based trainer for Pin Oak’s Josephine Abercrombie) should get all the credit for this win.”
Strike Again finished third beaten a neck for the win in Remington Park’s $150,000 Remington Green Stakes In his previous start Oct. 10 when saddled by Von Hemel.
The winner paid $15, $5.40 and $3.60 accomplished the about 1 1/16-mile distance over the firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:45.03, and increased his career earnings to $208,553 with his fifth win in 15 career starts.
Runner-up Gran Estreno, owned by Feel The Thunder Stable’s Marty Nixon, returned $2.80 and $2.20.
“He gave me a nice run,” said jockey Robby Albarado of Gran Estreno. “The winner’s a nice horse; take nothing away from him. My horse ran his race; he was running to the wire. That was two nice horses battling.”
Kinsman Stable’s Vanquisher, who finished third 2 1 /4-lengths farther back, paid $2.60.
Lael Stable’s Ready Set set the early fractions of 24.35 and 49.02 before tiring to seventh at the wire.
In the 25th anniversary edition of the Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies on the grass, Valli With a Vow “came running like a bear,” according to winning rider James Graham, who had wanted her closer to the pace but let her tell him how she wanted to run. Her margin of victory was a convincing 3 1 /4-lengths.
Saddled by trainer Josie Carroll’s assistant Ruth Schmidt, the daughter of Broken Vow toured the “about one mile” distance over the grass in 1:38.68, increased her career earnings to $126,599 with her third win in 11 lifetime starts, and returned mutuels of $19, $10.80 and $7.60.
“She was a nervous filly when she began her career here,” said Schmidt, “but she’s put it all together now and was very relaxed today. James knows her very well and they get along together very well”
Chrysalis Stables’ Silver La Belle finished second in the Pago Hop, returning $9 and $6.80, while Naveed Chowan’s Caminadora got up for the show spot a length farther back and paid $6.40. Caminadora’s entrymate Ice Mist set the early fractions of 23.30 and 47.93 before weakening to sixth in the stretch.
Favored Kitty Love, owned by Augustin Stable and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, lost position early, had no late rally and finished 10th.
Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with a 10-race program beginning at 12:40 p.m.