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Top Illinois pacer Enzo The Baker succumbs at Maywood

October 18, 2008
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Orange and Blue stakes champion Enzo The Baker, the No. 1 Illinois bred two-year-old male pacer, died of an apparent heart attack while warming up after the eighth race Friday night preparing for a start in the second (eleventh race) division of the Abe Lincoln stake at Maywood Park.

Trainer Dave McCaffrey was taking his prize state-bred freshman star through his second warm-up when last week\'s Cardinal stake champion keeled over fatedly on the backside near the three-quarter pole.

“I was going my warm up mile and the horse just dropped,” said McCaffrey. “There was no warning.”

Enzo The Baker, a son of Cole Muffler, had won 7 of his first 9 starts, including the Springfield championship and the $280,000 Orange & Blue on Super Night (September 20) at Balmoral Park. Enzo The Baker had banked $198,090 for his Illinois owners Scurto Stables, Anthony and Michael Somone and Leon Johnson, and was the heavy 3-2 favorite to add a $57,000 Lincoln division to his stakes portfolio.

Bob Watts and Grandma Jan’s Max, both driven by Brent Holland, went on to win their respective $57,000 divisions of the Abe Lincoln Pace.

In the seventh race first Lincoln split, the Kentucky invader Bob Watts turned an early possible bad break into a winning move, leading at ever pole and drawing off by three lengths for Holland in 1:56 flat,

Holland sent out Bob Watts from the outside seven-slot and Tyler Buter did the same with the 3-2 money favorite Smellthecolornine from the three, and so did Brandon Simpson with No. 4 Doubletrouble who went off stride, pushing Bob Watts almost five deep going into the first turn. Smellthecolornine had the lead mid-way in the turn when Holland decided to go all out with Bob Watts and try for the front instead of dropping all the way back in last. The Steve Carter came on with a rush and zipped rush past the 3-2 betting favorite at the :27.2 first quarter pole and Holland put on the brakes.

With no real outside pressure, Holland was able to take Bob Watts to a :29.4 second quarter and with the first up maiden Choose To Believe (Mike Oosting) on his outside, the winner was able to stroll so another soft :29.3 panel while Smellthecolornine was right behind him in the pocket.

When they turned for home, Holland asked the 8-5 second choice  Bob Watts ($5.20) for a higher gear and the gelded son of Real Desire out of the Rustler Hanover mare Art Queen responded, drawing away for his third consecutive victory and his first on a half-mile track. Smellthecolornine was three-plus lengths better than the show horse Cruzan A Day Away.

“After we got around all of the commotion in the first turn, I made my horse pace out of there pretty quickly,” said Holland. “At the head of the lane he was pacing really well and I thought he was sharpest horse in there off his recent efforts.”

The $28,500 winner’s share of the $57,000 purse boosted Bob Watt’s first season earnings to $68,797 for Ohioans Robert Reid, Chuck Grubbs and trainer Steve Carter.

Grandma Jan’s Max made a bold move on the backside, going from fifth and last to overtaking the pacesetting The Classic Z Tam who shot out at the start and grabbed command, taking the reduced five horse field to a :26.4 first quarter and a :55.3 half and pulled away to an easy three and one-half length victory in 1:55.2 in the second Lincoln split.

The 18-1 longshot Pure Defiancy (Dale Hiteman) came on for second and At Max Speed (Tyler Buter) was third, beaten almost five lengths.

“Grandma Jan’s Max was definitely the best in there with ‘Enzo’ out of the field,” Holland said. “He’s a very fast youngster and can really scoot around this track. He could have gone much faster than this and is one of those horses that just loves to chase the rest of the field.  He’s got a great come-from-behind mentality.”

The victory was Grandma Jan’s Max’s fifth in 12 first season starts for Flint, Michigan breeder and owner Harvey Eisman. The Erv Miller trainee earlier won the Governor’s Cup Championship at DuQuoin and was the runner-up to Enzo The Baker in the Orange and Blue Final. The son of Richest Hanover out of the Tattler’s Torpedo broodmare Jan’s Julie Too, now has $155,654 on his card. (Maywood)

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