Vicky Schowe’s Sloane Ranger was allowed to dictate a leisurely pace and then gallantly held off the late challenge of defending champion Golddigger’s Boy to win the 27th running of the $150,000 Don Le Vine Memorial Handicap by a head Saturday afternoon at Parx Racing. The win was the second stakes victory for the 6 year-old gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat and boosted his lifetime bankroll to better than $440,000.
Under the masterful ride of local jockey Frankie Pennington, Sloane Ranger came out to an alert start, but when the other speed horse in the field of six, Ponzi Scheme with Elvis Trujillo decided to sit an outside stalking trip, Sloane Ranger had himself an easy lead and a definite tactical advantage. The pair clicked off the first quarter mile in just 23.44 and the other five now had their work cut out. The 6-5 race favorite and 2011 G1 Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner came out third through the opening quarter, but with the slow pace, decided to go up and press the issue from the inside with a half-mile to run and was just a half-length behind. Ponzi Scheme was now third and last year’s Le Vine winner Golddigger’s Boy was sitting fourth about three lengths behind.
Moving to the three-eighths pole, Sloane Ranger let it out a notch after a half in 46.21 and opened a clear two length lead. He would need just about every bit of that. Golddigger’s Boy was beginning to make some headway on the inside with Toby’s Corner moving his run to the outside of the leader, but Toby’s Corner was clearly starting to struggle as they approached the top of the stretch. Coming to the final furlong, Golddigger’s Boy was now just one length behind and continuing to gain ever so slowly down at the rail. Toby’s Corner had dropped out of it and Rod’s Five Star was trying to get involved late with a bid in the middle of the race track. Through the last sixteenth, Sloane Ranger dug in and valiantly held on at the wire, winning by a long head over Golddigger’s Boy with Rod’s Five Star another length and a quarter behind in third.
Off as the second longest price at 9-1, Sloane Ranger, trained by Marty Ciresa, returned $21.60, 8.20, and 4.20. Golddigger’s Boy (5-1) broke from the inside gate, never left the rail, but just could not quite overcome the slow fractions in a very game effort and paid 4.80 and 3.40 for second. Rod’s Five Star (5-1) was fifth early and ran well late, but again could simply not make up the ground and paid 3.80 to show. Toby’s Corner was virtually done before they hit the head of the stretch and eased under the wire a disappointing fourth. The final time for the seven furlongs over a fast track was 1:23.03.