(NEW KENT, VA — 8/1/2022) — Patricia’s Hope, LLC and Mark Farrar’s Conagher, who broke his maiden one year ago at Colonial Downs, went gate-to-wire in his New Kent return Monday in the featured $100,000 Housebuster Overnight Handicap. A field of six three-year-olds competed seven furlongs over the 1 1/4 miles dirt oval.
With the scratch of #1 Scaramouche, the 3-year-old Jimmy Creed colt departed from the inside — gate position 2 — and raced there through the opening quarter with regular rider Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons. Leslie Cummings’ Exxel, looking for his third straight win, stayed within one-half length of the leader until the top of the stretch at which point Conagher opened up by three. The Michael Tomlinson trainee crossed 2 1/4 lengths the best in 1:21.01 while Marablue Farm and Pegasus Stud’s Old Homestead closed to finish second. D. Scott Peck and Bessie Gruwell’s No Sabe Nada finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths back.
Conagher was fresh off a runner-up finish in the $250,000 Iowa Derby three weeks ago, which followed a pair of dominant allowance wins at Churchill and Keeneland respectively. All three were on dirt. The consistent colt has finished out of the money only once in nine career starts. His bankroll now stands at $312,353 and this year, is 3-for-5.
“We wanted a nice race between the Iowa Derby and the Jerkens Stakes to set him up without having to work half a dozen times,” said trainer Tomlinson. “We thought it would be a good idea to bring him home to where he broke his maiden. We let him run his race which was faster than I thought. The quarter was pretty quick. I hope he comes out healthy and moves forward like we hope.”
The Housebuster field, ten initially, scratched down to six.
“Anytime you can run in a smaller field, it’s good, especially if you’re on the fence with an inside post position,” added Tomlinson. “He had the worst of it all the way around. Horses were breathing down his neck the whole way and he still got to run his race. We’re proud of him.”
“I just kind of sit there, hang on and go for a ride,” said jockey Rocco Jr. afterwards. “With him, the less I do the better. It’s gotten to where he knows what to do. I give him head his head, he runs around there fast, keeps going and outruns them.”
Monday’s card marked the debut of the 50 cent “Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4” wager which features two races at Monmouth Park and two from Colonial. A total of $45,533 was wagered in the initial pool which paid $54.80. The four races were run in a total of 44 minutes. The bet will be offered every Monday through September 5.
All photos by Coady Photography.