Photo by Jim McCue/MJC
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Lynch Racing and Nick Sanna Stables’ Recruiter kept his perfect record intact with a third straight victory and first against stakes competition in Saturday’s 11th renewal of the James F. Lewis III.
Favored at 6-5 in a field of six, Recruiter ($4.60) gave jockey Angel Cruz his fourth win from five mounts. Two of them came as a replacement for Laurel’s fall meet leading rider, injured apprentice and friend Jeiron Barbosa, also represented by agent Tom Stift.
“It’s been a blessed day,” Cruz said. “It’s my first time winning four races in one day, so I’m just happy. I want to thank my agent and all the owners and trainers for giving me this opportunity. It’s a special day today.”
Recruiter, a front-running winner of his first two starts including a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance Oct. 2 at Laurel, broke running and led briefly before 45-1 long shot Coffeewithchris slipped through along the rail and went the opening quarter-mile in 22.53 seconds while stakes-placed Honeyquist, another projected pace player, settled in fourth.
Cruz confidently ranged up to the front after going a half-mile in 45.29 seconds and never looked back, finishing up in 1:09.70 over a main track rated good to win by 2 ¾ lengths. It was another 2 ¾ back to Honeyquist in second, with Heldish edging Coffeewithchris by a head for second. Tiz No Clown and Riccio completed the order of finish. Where Is Mike was scratched.
“My horse had more speed than Honeyquist. It was a matter of how he broke, and he broke really good, so I took it from there,” Cruz said. “It worked out perfect because I could sit off and settle my horse and that’s what I did. He settled really good for me.”
The James F. Lewis III honors the late longtime Maryland horseman and first president of Maryland Million Ltd. He bred and/or campaigned a number of prominent runners in the region, led by 1974 Test (G2) winner Maybelline, Flirtation (G3) winner Heartful and multiple stakes winner Swift Attraction. His daughter, Lisa, is a multiple graded-stakes winning trainer based in New York and Florida.