Crop Report surged late to win the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park. (Photo courtesy of Pat Lang/Turfway Park)
By Tom LaMarra, @BH_TLaMarra
Team Valor International's Crop Report, third in his United States debut in February, found the Polytrack at Turfway Park to his liking with a last-to-first victory in the $75,000 Team Valor Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds March 23.
With Joel Rosario riding for trainer Graham Motion, Crop Report was well off the early pace set by Divine Ambition, who grabbed the early lead from the inside under Corey Lanerie after an early tussle heading into the first turn. The maiden Takin the Sloroad, Bet a Bundle, and J. J. Got Even took position stalking the leader, who held a short lead after the first quarter-mile in :23.76.
Crop Report lagged behind the leader on the backstretch by about seven lengths and didn't kick in until midway on the far turn after a half-mile in :47.97. The Kentucky-bred colt by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Crafty Prospector mare Amarillo was guided wide into the lane after six furlongs in 1:13.14 and gradually reeled in front-running Divine Ambition to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:45.66 for the 1 1/16 miles.
Divine Ambition, who won his debut by eight lengths at Turfway in September 2012 and last time out won a Gulfstream Park allowance event for owner Silverton Hill, was three lengths ahead of Red Wings, who rallied mildly for third.
The winner paid $3.20 on top as the heavy choice.
Crop Report, bred by Liberation Farm, made his first two starts at Newmarket in Great Britain as a 2-year-old, winning his second start. He resurfaced at Gulfstream Park Feb. 23 with a last-to-third effort in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
"I don't know if he did improve off of his last race," Team Valor president Barry Irwin said of Crop Report, who wore blinkers for the first time in the Rushaway. "He's a May 31 foal, and we've never had a horse like this. He's so immature, and he's clutzy out of the gate. He gives away five or six lengths at the start."
Irwin said he doesn't expect the colt to make the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but when asked about the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland in April, he said: "I don't know."
It was the first year Team Valor sponsored the Rushaway. When asked how it felt presenting the trophy to himself, Irwin said: "it was weird." Of the sponsorship, he said: "I think I'd do it again if I can."
There were three program scratches from the Rushaway: Honorable Guest and Star Contender, both trained by Mark Casse, and Stormin Monarcho. Honorable Guest ran off in the post parade into the barn area, fell but got back up and entered one of the barns. His condition wasn't immediately known.
For an Equibase chart, click here.