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Quick Wit (outside, yellow silks) oufinishes Csaba in Hall of Fame Stakes.

By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak, Blood-Horse

Considering his last attempt over a sloppy track, Quick Wit was far from a lock to win an off-the-turf edition of the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. II). But a seventh, beaten 27 1/2 lengths in the April 28 Derby Trial (gr. III), did not translate to a loss Aug. 10. Although 6-5 favorite Csaba gave him a battle on down to the line, the 10-1 shot prevailed by a nose at Saratoga Race Course.

Seven contenders stayed in the Hall of Fame, run at 1 1/8 miles instead of 1 1/16 miles due to the off-the-turf nature. Csaba quickly took the lead and set opening fractions of :23.63 and :48.08 while shadowed by Skyring. Quick Wit was never far behind, kept close in third by jockey Rajiv Maragh, who picked up the mount when previously-named Corey Nakatani missed a connecting flight coming in from California to ride for owner Michael Bruder and trainer Dale Romans.

"It seemed like the track was really favoring the speed horses, so we didn't want to have too much work to do," Maragh remarked. "He was just always there for me and put me where I needed to be and finished up strong."

Quick Wit made his move coming off the turn and was set down by Maragh at the top of the lane, but Csaba fought back and those two raced neck and neck to the wire for a photo finish in which Quick Wit, on the outside, won the call. Final time was 1:51.95.

"This horse has form on dirt," Romans said. "It was just a matter of if he'd move on up."

Quick Wit came into the Hall of Fame off a fifth-place finish in the American Derby (gr. IIIT) on good turf at Arlington Park July 14. Prior to that race he won a June 21 turf allowance going 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs by two lengths, that score following a rough-run May 18 event at the same track, surface, and distance, in which he finished third but was moved up to second. This was to have been his fourth start on the lawn.

"If it comes off (the turf) obviously we'll stay in from now on, we know he can do it," said Romans, who trained Quick Wit's sire, Sharp Humor. "But I think he's better on turf."

Quick Witt returned $28.80, $7, and $3.80 while Csaba paid $3.20 and $2.50 and Daddy Nose Best brought $2.70. Shkspeare Shaliyah, Optimizer, Skyring, and Raconteur completed the order of finish. Yari and Spring to the Sky scratched.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm out of the Royal Academy mare Thank the Academy, the 3-year-old colt improved his career record to 3-2-1 from 10 starts with earnings of $233,761. He was a $32,000 purchase from the 2011 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

For an Equibase chart, click here


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