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The Kenny McPeek-trained Hayes Strike hit the stretch and kicked away from the favored Coffeewithchris to earn his 1st big score in the 2023 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park. The Connect colt will reportedly aim next for the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, rather than return for the local Federico Tesio Stakes, a “Win & You’re In” for the 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1). Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Dixiana Farms’ Grade 2-placed homebred Hayes Strike, back on dirt after a failed attempt on the synthetic, cruised up to front-running Coffeewithchris at the top of the stretch and outran the multiple stakes winner to the wire to capture Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park.
The 34th running of the Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles anchored five stakes worth $450,000 in purses as the latest step in Laurel’s series of stakes for 3-year-olds leading up to the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
2022 Preakness Stakes
Hayes Strike ($18.20), dismissed at odds of 8-1, completed the distance in 1:45.46 over a fast main track to snap a six-race losing streak going back to his maiden triumph last August at Ellis Park. It was the first Private Terms victory for both Kentucky-based trainer Ken McPeek and veteran Maryland jockey Horacio Karamanos.
“We couldn’t be more pleased,” McPeek said. “He’s had some races that were tosses, and the last race was a toss. He didn’t handle the synthetic and the travel, and in this case we were able to regroup. He really wanted to run on the dirt. The jock did a great job, just stalking out there, so we’re real pleased.”
Last of nine in the one-mile Leonatus Jan. 21 at Turfway Park, a race that produced next-out Gotham (G3) winner Raise Cain, Hayes Strike found himself racing in the clear in fourth as New York shipper Register jumped out to the front, going the first quarter in 24.95 seconds, chased by Feb. 18 Miracle Wood winner Coffeewithchris, both trying two turns for the first time.
Howgreatisnate, who stumbled and lost rider J.D. Acosta out of the gate in the March 4 Gotham after winning each of his first four races, two of them in stakes, raced in third along the rail and had to steady in traffic rounding the clubhouse turn but moved up to second following a half in 49.16.
Coffeewithchris was the first to go after Register, moving up alongside on the far turn and taking over the top spot entering the stretch. Karamanos had tipped Hayes Strike further out to make a run and set him down once straightened for home, coming with a steady run to pass a gutsy Coffeewithchris inside the eighth pole and edge clear by 1 ¾ lengths.
Finishing a decisive second was Coffeewithchris, 3 ¾ lengths in front of late-running Circling the Drain, making his stakes debut. It was three-quarters of a length to Howgreatisnate in fourth, followed by Feeling Woozy, Riccio, Register and Marty’s Magic.
“This horse likes to sit behind wherever he’s comfortable. Today I was able to sit out of the gate and put him right behind the speed,” Karamanos said. “The speed didn’t go much, really. I saw [Howgreatisnate] in trouble and [Coffeewithchris] was going nice and comfortable in front of me. I got a good position outside and at the three-eighths pole my horse wanted to go so I let him pick it up a little bit.
“In the straight, we went head-to-head with [Coffeewithchris] and he drifted out but my horse didn’t care. He took the lead and gave me a nice even kick to the wire,” he added. “He galloped out through the wire. If they had another sixteenth of a mile, he’d win again.”
Hayes Strike ran second in the Street Sense (G3), third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and fourth in the Iroquois (G3) and Gun Runner as a 2-year-old. By Connect out of the Deputy Commander mare Plaid, he is a half-brother to Senior Investment, who McPeek trained in 2017 to a win in the Lexington (G3) and a third in the Preakness. Senior Investment would later come back to win the 2020 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel for trainer Scott Lake.
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Laurel’s next stakes for 3-year-olds is the $125,000 Federico Tesio going 1 1/8 miles April 15, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness. McPeek said it was likely Triple Crown-nominated Hayes Strike would stay closer to home.
“We’ll probably bring him back in the Blue Grass [G1 April 8 at Keeneland],” he said. “He’s got a Kentucky-based owner. Dixiana will probably give him a shot back home.”
Private Terms raced in the colors of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Janney’s Locust Hill Farm, winning 12 races, nine stakes and more than $1.2 million from 1987-89 including the 1988 Federico Tesio (G3) and Wood Memorial (G1) and 1989 Mass Cap (G2). His track record of 1:47 1/5 in winning the 1989 Never Bend Handicap at Pimlico still stands. He sired Grade 1-winning millionaires Soul of the Matter and Afternoon Deelites.
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