Beaver Hat won Friday’s mile allowance feature just in time to use the race as a prep for a new overnight stakes at Ellis Park.
Racing secretary Dan Bork has created the $60,000 Tri-State Overnight Stakes at a mile for horses 3 years old and up. It will be run Aug. 7, along with three turf stakes that day, as part of Kentucky Downs Preview Weekend. Another four grass stakes will be held Aug. 8, with the seven races serving a stepping stones to Kentucky Downs’ lucrative meet in September. The winners of the seven Preview stakes receive a fees-paid spot in the corresponding Kentucky Downs race.
“This fills a void for older males going long on dirt,” Bork said. “We have the Good Lord for sprinters, and the mile distance out of the first-turn chute could attract sprinters stretching out another three-sixteenths of a mile as well as two-turn horses — and, of course, milers. It’s the male version of our popular Groupie Doll Stakes for fillies and mares.”
The Tri-State revives a name used on a stakes that started on dirt and was moved to 1 1/16 miles on turf before being discontinued some years ago. Preview Weekend, which features 5 1/2-furlong, mile and 1 1/4 mile races for older males, has filled the niche for male turf horses, along with a new 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby for 3-year-olds.
Trainer Brian Williamson said he definitely would be interested in running the 4-year-old Beaver Hat in the Tri-State.
The colt had been running well but was unable to break through against tough company in allowance races at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs. Running back at Ellis Park, where last summer he had a second then a victory in two maiden races, Beaver Hat shook off the 3-year-old pacesetter Irish Unity in the stretch for a 4 1/2-length victory over his younger rival. Beaver Hat covered the mile under Corey Lanerie in a sparkling 1:34.89, just missing Looking Cool’s 2014 track-record 1:34.41.
“What a solid horse. He just shows up every time we run him,” said Williamson, who trains Beaver Hat for his wife, Lyda Williamson, and mother-in-law Nancy Vanier, also the colt’s breeders. “It’s just been a pleasure to us. Can’t say enough about him. He always comes through, old Beaver Hat.”
The second-level allowance victory brought Beaver Hat’s earnings to $216,650.