April 9, 2016
Source: Blood-Horse (Claire Novak)

Kid Cruz continued his winning ways April 9 with a grinding victory in the $200,000 Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Favored at odds of 3-2 in the five-horse field, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid   came off a Feb. 13 victory in the John B. Cambell Stakes at Laurel Park. With regular rider Jose Ortiz in the irons Saturday, Kid Cruz closed from third to wear down 9-5 second choice Madefromlucky, taking the 1 1/4-mile test for trainer Linda Rice and owners Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable. Watch Video

Final time was 2:04.52 on a fast track.

Madefromlucky showed the way through opening fractions of :24.15, :49.13, and 1:13.73 before Kid Cruz ranged up to challenge. The pacesetter put up a game fight on the rail but gave way after a 1:39.24 mile, yielding to Kid Cruz by half a length.

“We kind of expected the race to unfold the way it did,” Rice said. “There was such a lack of speed on paper. I didn’t think we’d be on the lead but we had an inside post (2) and Jose’s gotten to know the horse pretty well. He’s ridden him quite a few times consecutively and he knows you have to work to put him into position because otherwise he’ll take himself out completely. We’re just thrilled we ended up on the right end of it.”

Kid Cruz returned $5, $2.60, and $2.10, while Madefromlucky brought $3.10 and $2.30. Completing the trifecta 6 3/4 lengths back was Turco Bravo, who paid $2.40. Norumbega and Good Luck Gus completed the order of finish.

“He broke good,” Ortiz said. “I put him close, where I wanted to be. At the top of the stretch I felt very good. I had a lot of horse. When we hit the quarter pole, I looked back, and no one was coming. I knew I had Johnny already. When I hit my horse left-handed, I lost the rein, but the race was over. It’s cold and it’s raining, so it happens. Kid Cruz is not an easy horse to ride. You have to ride him the whole way. He made me tired, but it paid off.”

Kid Cruz was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall out of the Tale of the Cat mare Layreebelle, and was an $80,000 purchase by Black Swan Stable from the Select Sales consignment to the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2012. He improved his record to 7-5-2 from 19 starts for earnings of $782,025.

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