The gelding In C C's Honor, though racing on just six days' rest, overcame a rough trip to take a photo-finish victory in the $75,000 Northern Wolf Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park.
The 6-year-old In C C's Honor had not won at Laurel Park since the winter of 1997. The Maryland-bred son of prized stud Allen's Prospect won five of his first eight career starts at the track, and after two stakes wins in the spring of his 3-year-old season, he was shipped to Turfway Park to race against a higher grade of competition.
"We really thought we were on the road to bigger and better things back then," co-owner John Childs said. "I was dreaming, and people were talking maybe about the [Kentucky] Derby. Those were fun times."
In C C's Honor's connections didn't get to dream for too long, however.
Coming around the final turn of the 1997 Rushaway Stakes, his first race in Kentucky, In C C's Honor led the Bob Baffert-trained Anet when he took a misstep and cracked his cannon bone. The severity of the break wasn't immediately apparent to trainer Donald Barr, who put In C C's Honor back on the track just three weeks later.
"That is one of those injuries that's very hard to tell if it's healed or not," Barr said. "And he was training well, but when we raced him again, he hurt his leg in the same place, and it's always been a problem."
In C C's Honor has raced only sporadically the last three years because of the bad leg. In two operations, veterinarians drilled holes around In C C's Honor's wound to stimulate bone growth.
But last month, Barr gave his horse his first start at Laurel Park since he was 3 years old, and In C C's Honor hinted at the promise he showed in his glorious youth, losing by a neck. Then in a six-furlong allowance race on New Year's Day, In C C's Honor again fell just short of victory here.
Despite those promising performances, Barr was worried that six days' rest between races--the shortest break of In C C's Honor's career--wasn't enough down time going into the Northern Wolf Stakes.
His horse had no such qualms. Coming out of the turn of the six-furlong race, jockey Omar Klinger found himself and In C C's Honor stuck behind favorite Romano Gucci and the Kentucky-bred Cat Be Nimble. Klinger's attempt to circle the front-runners was stymied, so he mounted a bold bid for the win along the rail beginning at the three-eighths pole.
When the three horses hit the wire, it was unclear whether Klinger's bid was successful. But after consulting the video evidence, placement judges awarded In C C's Honor the win. His time of 1 minute 2.9 seconds was just one-tenth of a second off the track record.
"He's never going to have the career we thought he'd have, and that's a shame," Childs said after the race. "But he can still win races like this."