STICKNEY, Ill. -- Four in a row for Life At Ten, who won her graded stakes debut on Saturday, wearing down favored Jessica Is Back through the long Hawthorne stretch to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap by one length.
Life At Ten ($7.60), a 5-year-old Malibu Moon colt owned by Cynthia DeBartolo, began her win streak in an entry-level allowance race last November in New York, after which she captured consecutive listed stakes over the Aqueduct inner dirt track. Those two stakes victories came in Life At Ten's first dirt-route tries, and the mare appears to have a bright future running long on dirt. The Sixty Sails was contested over 1 1/8 miles, and Life At Ten, tall at the withers and broad through her girth, had no trouble seeing out the trip.
Jockey Michael Baze, riding in Chicago on Saturday for the first time, worked out the pressing-stalking trip requested by trainer Todd Pletcher, who also won the Lexington and Giant's Causeway stakes Saturday at Keeneland. Problem was, Life At Ten was chasing a lone speed horse, Jessica Is Back, rather than the two major pace players who showed up on paper, since Fighter Wing broke terribly and never got involved.
Jessica Is Back, the 17-10 favorite, set comfortable fractions of 24.41 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 49.06 for the first half, and 1:13.72 for six furlongs, with Life At Ten sitting second all the way - though "sitting" probably is the wrong word. Baze clearly had a handful of horse at the half-mile pole, and appeared merely to be biding his time.
"I knew I had the leader any time I wanted," he said.
Jessica Is Back held on to about the three-sixteenths pole, but Life At Ten collared her and pushed past, only to have her momentum slowed when she hopped slightly crossing over tracks left by the starting gate.
"If she doesn't hop like that, she would have won by more," said Baze.
Jessica Is Back fought on gamely, briefly regaining some ground on the winner, but Life At Ten pulled away again in the final yards, stopping the timer in 1:51.02. Miss Singhsix rallied on the far turn and finished third.
Mike Dilger, the Pletcher assistant who saddled Life At Ten, said the mare would be shipped to Keeneland on Sunday.