HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Custom for Carlos usually has the need for speed, but he showed a new dimension on Friday, rallying from slightly off the pace under a clever ride by Mike Smith to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Handicap for older sprinters at Oaklawn Park.
Custom for Carlos ($3.40), the favorite, was third while along the inside during the early going of the six-furlong race, was able to work his way to the three path heading into the stretch, then needed the entire length of the stretch to catch front-runner Chief of Affairs, who set a brisk pace and went down stubbornly. Custom for Carlos won by a neck over Chief of Affairs, who finished 2 1/2 lengths clear of third-place Riley Tucker.
Smith "took him off the rail, which was the right thing," said Eddie Kenneally, who trains Custom for Carlos for a partnership headed by the Homewrecker Racing LLC of Ron and Ricki Rashinski. "He doesn't like being inside. He got him out. It worked out well."
Chief of Affairs led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.19 seconds - which is fast for Oaklawn Park, which has a short run-up to the timer - and 45.33 seconds for a half-mile. Custom for Carlos completed six furlongs in 1:09.05 on the fast main track. The win was the third in the last four starts - all at six furlongs - for Custom for Carlos.
Custom for Carlos, 4, a colt by More than Ready, has now won 6 times in 13 lifetime starts and has earned $460,630. Smith was riding him for the first time. He picked up the mount because he was in town to ride Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom two races later.