HORSE RACING Western Pride captures 67th Ohio Derby
The horse was a wire-to-wire winner, edging second-place Woodmoone.
By JOHN BUTERA
CLEVELAND -- Macho Uno was the favorite in Saturday's Ohio Derby at Thistledown Race Track, but when the 67th running was complete, it was Western Pride who was wearing a similar name -- Numero Uno.
Ridden by Mountaineer Park's Dana Whitney, Western Pride broke for the lead immediately and proceeded to score the wire-to-wire win.
By the three-quarter pole, Western Pride was opening up a lead of about three lengths.
He continued to hold strong until the top of the stretch when he drifted out just a bit before maintaining his advantage under Whitney's strong handling.
Woodmoone, who finished second, chased the winner the entire race and exchanged bumps with Macho Uno through the stretch.
It was here that Woodmoone edged Macho Uno for second place.
"We decided to stick with the gameplan and go to the front," Whitley said. "Turning for home, I got some pressure from a horse on the outside."
Payoffs: Western Pride paid $8.40, $5.20 and $2.10 while Woodmoone returned $10.60 and $2.10.
Macho Uno's place effort was worth $2.10.
Macho Uno, who went off at 1-5, was ridden by renowned jockey Gary Stevens, who had already scored victories in this year's Preakness and Belmont.
"I don't have any excuses," Stevens said of his million-dollar horse. "I thought we had a good chance in the lane but he flattened out.
"He felt great pulling up and he's a race horse. He'll come back from this."
Another derby: Whitney, who lives in nearby Calcutta, also won this year's West Virginia Derby on board the same horse.
After going 0-for-4 in his previous four mounts of the day, Whitney came through with Western Pride's fifth victory in six tries without blinkers. With blinkers, Western Pride is only 2-for-10.
"He was a little nervous," said Sonya Whitney of her husband.
"But, we had talked about three races prior to the Derby and he said he was going to ride the horse, not the track. He went 0-for-4 early but he won the one that counts."
Departure: Whitney left Thistledown immediately following the victory to participate in Saturday night's card at Mountaineer.
Western Pride covered the mile-and-an-eighth track in 1 minute, 48.66 seconds. He had run the quarter in 23.30 while doing the half in 47.20.
The win was good for $180,000.
"I think it's less money," said Whitley of this race compared to the West Virginia Derby. "But deep down inside I feel it's more prestigious."
Western Pride's trainer Richard Estvanko said, "I knew Dana would give it his best shot. We knew coming in we would have to content with Macho Uno and we were ready for him."