COUNT FLEET HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 6 FURLONGS
Outta Tune entered Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Count Fleet Handicap in career-best form, reeling off three straight impressive wins at Oaklawn Park for owner Maggi Moss and trainer Chris Richard, but the former $4,000 claimer was stepping up to make his graded stakes debut. The seven-year-old gelding passed the class check with flying colors, fending off a host of challengers in deep stretch to prove best by a half-length in the six-furlong sprint.
With regular rider Terry Thompson in the saddle, Outta Tune broke sharply from the starting gate and chased 4-5 favorite Izzy Tunes through a quick opening fractions in :22 and :45. The pacesetter came under a ride turning for home and Outta Tune struck the front soon after straightening into the stretch, but Apriority, Hamazing Destiny and Silver Magnus were all in close proximity threatening to offer a serious challenge for it all.
Outta Tune dug down determinedly and maintained his narrow advantage all the way to the finish line, stopping the teletimer in 1:09 1/5.
Apriority lost a little momentum while drifting out toward the grandstand in midstretch, but was never out contention and finished up strongly on the far outside to claim second, a neck better than Hamazing Destiny, who was to immediate outside of Outta Tune in third. Silver Magnus came charging up the rail before flattening out a little and wound up another length back in fourth.
Izzy Rules and Out Dark Knight rounded out the order of finish.
Off as the near 9-2 third choice, Outta Tune paid $10.80 to win. The Jump Start gelding was bred in Kentucky by John O'Meara and is out of the El Prado mare Prado's Tune. With Saturday's $150,000 payday, the dark bay has now earned $386,663 from a 44-17-5-3 mark.
He began his racing career in November 2007 and has raced primarily in claiming races throughout his career, competing for a $4,000 tag last July at Prairie Meadows. Outta Tune opened 2012 with a pair of easy wins over starter allowance rivals at Oaklawn and entered the Count Fleet off a 3 3/4-length romp over allowance/optional claiming rivals.