Eagle and Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. edged out the competition in the 18th running of the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Saturday, July 15. The duo covered the one mile and 70 yard distance in a time of 1:40.24, which was a new stakes record.
Eagle didn't even attempt early speed in the field; that's not his forte. He followed along from post two as Bucchero and Leandro Goncalves fired out to the lead from the center of the track. Abraham and Corey Lanerie followed suit and pursued the top spot in a stalking position on the outside while Eagle remained at the back of the pack.
Eagle began to inch up toward the leaders in the turn but it was in the stretch that he got his best footing to join the chase for the wire. Sitting along the rail, Hernandez kept saving ground and got Eagle up into perfect position halfway through the lane. In the end, it was Eagle that posted the head win over Fear the Cowboy and Jesus Rios and Mo Tom and Ricardo Santana Jr. in the three-horse photo.
The win photo was so close, even jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. wasn't sure of the outcome.
“I couldn't tell because those horses were so far outside,” said Hernandez Jr. “I wasn't quite sure. But I knew he was running under the wire, and we're happy about that. He got there in front. That was great, the confidence booster we were looking for. He did everything we needed him to do and he showed up today. He's the kind of horse where he has a lot of boy in him and he does a few things wrong. But he was professional, the way we wanted him to do, and we were fortunate to get there first.”
Fear the Cowboy came close, but had to settle for second. Jesus Rios, who made his first trip to Indiana, felt his horse ran a good race but would have liked a different outcome.
“I was happy with how he ran and it was a good race but it's tough to lose a photo like that,” added Rios.
Eagle, the favorite of the field, paid $7.80, $4.00 and $2.80 across the board. The win marked his seventh career time he's visited the winner's circle but it marked the first time this year in five outings. The five-year-old son of Candy Ride is owned and bred by William S. Farish. Neil Howard trains the horse that now possesses more than $720,000 in career earnings.
“It was very good. I was happy,” said Howard. “You know he's been in some tough spots. He always shows up. His last race, he had kind of an off day for whatever reason, but it happens. I didn't think he held on, but I knew it was close.”
Howard noted that the next stop for Eagle could possibly be the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs.
“He (Eagle) likes Churchill.”
Eagle and Hernandez Jr. added their names to the historical stats for the Michael G. Schaefer Mile. They bested the previous stakes record set by Abraham and Joel Rosario established in 2014 in a time of 1:40.64.
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