SARATOGA SPRINGS -- When Eric Fein paid $75,000 for C C's Pal after her second start, he couldn't have imagined she would return the investment 10 times. Not only is she a multiple graded-stakes winner, she's earned almost $800,000 for the Jericho resident.
The 5-year-old mare overcame a rough trip Friday at Saratoga, rallying in the final 50 yards under Junior Alvarado to take the $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap. It was her second Grade II victory in her last three starts, and her 10th consecutive in-the-money finish since being turned over to trainer Rick Dutrow last fall.
"Rick has been fantastic,'' Fein said. "Since October I think I've won 10 stakes with him.''
The obscurely bred daughter of Alex's Pal (stud fee $2,000) ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.88 to edge another closer, Island Bound, by a neck. C C's Pal paid $8.50 and earned $120,000 in her fifth stakes victory for Dutrow. She raised her career total to $798,086, with $392,000 of it banked this year. She's 9-for-31 lifetime, with seven seconds and seven thirds.
"She has more heart than any horse I've ever had,'' said Fein, who owned Musket Man, third in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. "It doesn't matter where she runs or what the distance is, she gives it her all. If they have a little ability and a lot of heart, that's what matters.''
A race to dye for
If you've yearned to watch a white thoroughbred race with a blue-tipped tail, the wait will end at approximately 5:45 p.m. Saturday. Mountaineer Park's stewards gave Dr. Kendall Hansen permission to dye the extreme south end of his four-legged namesake, Hansen, for the Grade II West Virginia Derby.
"We're just doing it for fun, for the horse's younger fans, and for people who think they are young,'' Hansen the human said. "I think people are interested in seeing it done once, whether they like it or not.''
Keeneland's stewards weren't. The bucolic track's motto is "Racing as It Was Meant to Be,'' and on April 14 Hansen's stunt struck them as bizarre. The tail end of last year's 2-year-old male champion was dyed blue before the Blue Grass Stakes, but racing's umpires ordered the coloring to be washed out.
"It's kind of unfinished business for me,'' Hansen said. "I was sad we didn't get to do it.''
Pletcher back on top
To no one's surprise, trainer Todd Pletcher has overcome a 1-for-22 start to lead the standings with 12 wins, including three Friday. He won the opener with Joonbi ($7.40), first time off the claim for Long Island-based owner Mike Repole. In the fifth, Jocosity ($3.60) and Repole first-time starter Midnight Taboo ran 1-2 for Pletcher. Two races later, Pletcher and Repole scored with Never On Time ($14.60) in a maiden claimer on turf.