Two weeks ago, Kitchener's Reward ran third as the favorite in the Handicapper Championship at Penn National, but jockey Carlos Barrera said the horse was subjected to a horrendous trip. Yesterday at Laurel, Kitchener's Reward showed what he can do when unencumbered.
Benefitting from a trip along the rail, the 3-year-old found room at the top of the stretch and held off Due North by a neck to win the $55,700 Find Handicap. Nordavano was third, two lengths off the winner, with 2-to-1 favorite and 121-pound highweight Castelets fourth.
Breaking from post position 3, Kitchener's Reward was sent to the rail as the two to his left, Goose Bumps and North Lord, ran one-two into the first turn of the 1 1/8-mile turf race.
"I wasn't expecting to be right behind them," Barrera said. "I figured we'd be fourth or fifth, but when nobody else went after them, it left us in perfect position."
Jockey Mary Wiley kept Goose Bumps to a short lead over North Lord through the backstretch, while Kitchener's Reward was joined on the outside by Due North.
As Due North appeared in position to take command at the top of the stretch, however, Goose Bumps drifted slightly off the rail, and Barrera prompted Kitchener's Reward for the first time. He shot through the gap and edged past Due North; they ran together the final half-furlong. Kitchener's Reward passed the wire in 1:49 and produced a $26.80 win mutuel.
"I didn't want him to goof off even a little bit," Barrera said. "Not in a stakes race."
It was the first stakes triumph for Kitchener's Reward, who entered the race with fewer 1987 earnings than all but one of his rivals. He has earned $66,489 this season.