The Dirty Wagon took the right path to victory Saturday during the first of six all-Quarter Horse racing days at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville. Guided by German Rodriguez, the three-year-old Indiana-sired gelding scored his first career stakes win in the ninth running of the $108,900 Harley Greene Derby.
Starting from post two, The Dirty Wagon (photo) was a factor from the start, holding his ground inside with the rest of the field. Midway through the 350-yard dash, it was anyone’s race to win with the entire field stretched across the track. It wasn’t until the final strides that The Dirty Wagon finally got a nose in front and proceeded to take the title by a neck over Tachas Street and Fernando Morin. AJK Forgiven and Jose Ruiz finished another half length back in third along the inside.
Less than a length and a half separated the top five finishers in the race.
“He’s a little difficult to ride, but that is why I stuck with him,” said Rodriguez. “I rode him last year as a two-year-old and then stuck with him this year. He’s not easy to ride. The main thing is to just try to keep him calm. He is too fired up all the time.”
The Dirty Wagon paid $6.80 to his backers. The On the Wagon gelding is owned by Keith Bode and Debbie Smith and trained by Horseshoe Indianapolis nine-time leading trainer Randy Smith. Amy Youngblood Peoples bred the sophomore, who earned his fourth career win in nine career starts. After winning his trial, he was ranked eighth on the list of qualifiers. The Dirty Wagon is now 2-for-2 in 2023.
“I told Randy last year he just kept going and going at 300 and he would be better this year at 350,” said Rodriguez. “He just keeps getting better and better and he’s definitely a distance horse.”
Born Runner Classic
Stone Lake (photo) has now won at least one race for four consecutive years at Horseshoe Indianapolis. His latest trip to the winner’s circle was in the 14th running of the $83,000 Born Runner Classic. The five-year-old son of Escondido Beach now has more than $387,000 on his card and is inching closer to a spot in the top five all-time leading Indiana-sired Quarter Horses in state history.
Stone Lake and L.D. “Danny” Martinez were the last in the gate of the 400-yard dash and began their journey from the outside in post 10. When the gate sprung, Stone Lake was wide to the outside of the rest of his opponents until midway through the race. Sarahs Violin and Jose Ruiz were the early leaders but as the wire neared, so did Stone Lake along with HH CJ Shake and Cesar Esqueda and Beach Blast with Juan Marquez aboard. The trio closed with a burst of speed to land at the wire together, giving Stone Lake the edge by a neck over HH CJ Shake. Beach Blast finished another nose back in third.
Stone Lake was overlooked by the bettors, paying $22.20 for the win. The time of the sprint was 19.833 seconds, the second quickest in the 14-year history of the event. Bred by Sheri Miller’s Miller Ranch of Shipshewana, Indiana, Stone Lake earned his third career stakes win for owner-trainer Tony Cunningham.
The petite chestnut gelding now has nine wins in 22 career starts.
“Every year, he seems like a slow starter,” said Cunningham. “In his last race, he finished fourth to this group, but he stepped out and ran his race today. He’s a good horse, and he’ll do that at the gate, but they load him in from the side, so you generally don’t see it, but he was last in today, so it was more noticeable.”
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