The last time Michigan’s top older males met, in the July 4 Wolverine Stakes, Fiery Lake drew off in the stretch for an upset victory.
This Saturday, Fiery Lake will be the one with the target on his back, as he goes for a second stakes victory in the $20,000 Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.
Fiery Lake notched his first career stakes win in the Wolverine, staying near the lead and driving to the wire to win by four lengths at odds of 17.60-to-one. The four-year-old Devil His Due gelding enters Saturday’s race off a July 30 front-running effort at Presque Isle Downs, where he was nipped at the wire to finish second by a nose. J.J. Delgado will ride Fiery Lake for owner Samaron Stable and trainer Evelyn Griffin.
Defending older male of the year Meadow Vespers will be the race’s heavyweight, carrying 122 pounds. The four-time Sire Stakes winner closed from a double digit deficit to finish third in the Wolverine behind Fiery Lake and second-place Demagoguery, who is not entered in Saturday’s race. The seven-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding returns to Michigan following a successful road trip to Thistledown, where he won a July 30 optional claimer. Richard Rettele trains Meadow Vespers for owner J Mack Enterprise Inc.. Regular rider Ivan Gonzalez retains the assignment.
After finishing with at least a share of his crop’s top honors during his two and three-year-old campaigns, Hot Chili has had a rough go of his fourth year so far. The Daylight Savings gelding’s best finish of 2009 has been a third place effort in a June 6 optional claimer at Pinnacle following two stakes attempts at Mountaineer. He enters this race after finishing off the board in the Wolverine. Hot Chili is owned by Sharon Valley Thoroughbreds and trained by James Jackson. Alexis Ortiz will have the mount.
#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds
1. Bishop Casey / J Skerret / R M Gorham / 5-1
1A. My First Buck / F Mata / R M Gorham / 5-1
2. Hot Chili / A Ortiz / J R Jackson / 6-1
3. All I Can Get / J Loveberry / G S Bennett / 8-1
4. Fiery Lake / J J Delgado / E Griffin / 5-2
5. Rhythm In Motion / No Rider / R M Gorham / 20-1
6. Hooched Express / G Laurente / C Dorris / 15-1
7. Meadow Vespers / I R Gonzalez / R Rettele / 8-5
In other Michigan stakes news, keep an eye out Saturday night as one of Michigan’s top Quarter Horses, Senorita Tres, heads to Prairie Meadows to contest the Bank of America Central Championship Challenge (G2). At morning line odds of 5-1, the gray filly will face one of her toughest challenges to date, but she ought to go off at a generous price and she is no stranger to out-of-state travel for big races. Be sure to catch the race if possible.