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CAKE POP POURS IT ON IN CLEVELAND GOLD CUP
Reserved early under jockey Manoel Cruz, Cake Pop surged through the final half-furlong to take the $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup by 2 1/4 lengths over Tough It Up at JACK Thistledown Racino Saturday. Strike Your Light finished third by the same margin.
Cake Pop covered the 1 1/8-mile dirt race for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds in 1:52.80.
“He ran a great race,” said winning trainer Michael Lauer. “He relaxed off the pace, made his run and ground it out. I figured with everybody going a mile and an eighth for the first time that a couple would go and he could stay back. Manny rode a great race.”
Shadeslayer was out first, setting the pace in 23.28, 48.08 and 1:13.40 under pressure before giving way. Last through those six furlongs, Tough It Up gained the lead in mid-stretch with Strike Your Light right behind. Cruz meanwhile had maneuvered Cake Pop out from behind horses to find running room, drew even past the eighth pole and surged to the wire. Favored Tough It Up, who won last year’s Best of Ohio Juvenile, rallied from last to take a brief lead in the lane over his stablemate Strike Your Light.
“The way he responded around the turn and got to the front, I thought we were home free,” said jockey John McKee. “As soon as he got in front he just went into neutral. After talking to Tommy (Drury, the trainer) I think he’ll be wearing blinkers next out.” Sent off the fourth choice at 9-2, Cake Pop paid $11.40, $4.40 and $3. Coincidentally completed the Superfecta, followed by Hansenation and Shadeslayer.
Cake Pop is owned by Lauer’s wife, Penny S. Lauer, and was bred by the couple. The colt is a son of Notional out of Hey There Cupcake, by Prized. The win boosted Cake Pop’s earnings to $203,240 and improved his record to five wins, two seconds and two thirds in 12 starts. The Cleveland Gold Cup was the colt’s third Ohio stakes win.