Ocala is often viewed as a training and breeding hub. On a sun-splashed, Monday afternoon, Ocala proved a racing center as well with the annual OBS Champions Day of racing.
Florida-bred Crafty Unicorn won the $100,000 Championship Stakes to close out the festive day of racing. The son of Friends Lake—Unicorn Kid, by Lemon Drop Kid, bred by Sabrina and Harold Plumley, broke his maiden in style for owner-trainer Dennis Manning.
Crafty Unicorn raced in close attendance of the early pace in the 23rd running of the race, surged to the lead along the inside in the stretch and edged away from Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Burn the Mortgage late to win the 1 1/16-mile event by 1 ¾ lengths. John Oxley’s Moon Traveler checked in third. Crafty Unicorn covered the distance in 1:45 4/5.
Crafty Unicorn went through the ring at OBS three different times. He was sold as a yearling by Richard Kent’s Kaizen Sales, agent. He failed to meet his reserve at the 2011 April sale and then sold for $20,000 by Nickajack/Rey de Oros, agent at the 2011 June Sale.
“He was a really nice-looking yearling when I had him,” Kent said. “He had good size to him, but offspring of Friends Lake weren’t too popular at the time. I’m glad he broke his maiden in a stakes race. What a pleasant surprise.”
Marc Haisfield’s Andrew’s Girl remained undefeated after two career starts, rolling to an impressive score in the $100,000 filly division of the OBS Championship Stakes.
Bred by Stonewall Farm, the daughter of Lawyer Ron—Pondering, by Storm Cat, broke her maiden at first asking on Feb. 18, winning a one-mile maiden special weight race on the grass at Tampa Bay Downs. She closed from last to first that day. Her strong closing kick carried her to victory once more on Monday as she circled the field in the stretch under Leandro Goncalves to beat Oaks Lily by 1 ½ lengths. She ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47 3/5.
The filly was consigned to the 2011 OBS March sale by Eddie Woods, agent.
“It’s amazing to come home here to Ocala and win a stakes race in your backyard,” said Haisfield. “What a great day of racing and I’m proud that we were able to win one here today. This victory is a credit to the entire Stonewall team.”
Haisfield related that a full sister to Andrew’s Girl will go through the ring at the OBS April sale.
Donald Dizney’s Devoted Wildcat grabbed the lead around the far turn of the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes and never relinquished command. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Devoted Wildcat crossed the wire one length clear of a fast-closing Making Amends, running six furlongs in 1:10 4/5.
It was the third consecutive win for the gelding. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in December and returned to annex an allowance race on Jan. 29 in Hallandale Beach.
Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Devoted Wildcat is a Kentucky-bred son of Forest Wildcat—Devotedness, by Anet. The winner’s half-brother is selling this week at OBS as hip No. 292.
“This is special,” said Roger Brand of Double Diamond Farm. “We drove down to Gulfstream Park for Apriority’s race yesterday. We didn’t win that race (finished second) and had a long drive home last night. We have a short trip today and win a stakes race. You can’t beat that.
“This horse has done really well since he’s been with Hess,” Brand added. “He really seems to be coming into himself now. His future looks bright.”
Devoted Wildcat was consigned to the 2010 OBS August sale by Summerfield, agent.
The afternoon’s first race went to Ron Hendrickson’s Who Is Camille. The 3-year-old daughter of Dixie Union drew clear in the final strides to win the $50,000 OBS Sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Raroma Stables Runfor Ro closed late to secure the runner-up spot. Pacesetter Quality Lass, a West Point Thoroughbreds colorbearer, had to settle for third. The winner ran six furlongs in 1:11.
Hendrickson and trainer Marcial Navarro supplemented the Who Is Camille to the race. Jockey John Velazquez piloted the winner.
“She beat some pretty nice horses when she broke her maiden,” said Hendrickson, who owns Dairy Queen franchises and has eight horses in training with Navarro at Calder. “That is what encouraged us to try this spot.
“What a wonderful day of racing here in Ocala,” he added. “It’s a nice event to be a part of. I’m thrilled with the victory.”
Kings Equine sold Who Is Camille for $15,000 at the 2011 OBS April sale.