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Still Having Fun takes Preakness step in Miracle Wood

by | Feb 17, 2018 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing, Top Stories | 2 comments

by Ted Black

Heading into the latest renewal of the $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes for three-year-olds on Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park, the connections of six runners in the field viewed the one-mile event on the main track with more than a hint of optimism with the dreams of starting in the Grade I Preakness Stakes at Pimlico looming three months away.

Nevertheless, the betting public viewed the Miracle Wood as nothing more than a three-horse affair, as Still Having Fun, fresh off his victory in the $100,000 Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes over the strip and Tampa Bay Downs invader He Hate Me, a distant runner-up to Word Of Trouble in the Pasco Stakes there, were the top two choices while Whiteley runner-up Wentz, the only horse in the field not currently nominated to the Triple Crown series, was the third choice for trainer John Servis.

When the gates opened in the Miracle Wood amid a light snow shower that would eventually turn the main track muddy, longshot Old Time Revival displayed the best early speed and led the field down the backside with Wentz in an ideal stalking spot, just outside of Oldfashioned Club. Favored Still Having Fun was away a step slow and had only one rival beaten down the backside, but he began to pass rivals just inside of Wentz midway on the far turn and hand ample racing room turning for hom.

At the top of the lane, Old Time Revival still owned a narrow lead over Wentz and the rail opened for Still Having Fun, who was reluctant to change leads and never did. Nevertheless, Still Having Fun overcame his greenness and his refusal to change leads – something that has marked his entire career to this point – but he still managed to surge past Old Time Revival and Wentz in the final yards for a neck victory while getting the one-turn mile distance in 1:37.51.

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“He came away a little slow, but that was mostly me,” said jockey Feargal Lynch, who guided Still Having Fun to his second straight stakes victory and his third win in four lifetime outings for trainer Tim Keefe. “I wanted him to relax and settle and just take his time early because today was finding out about his ability to get the mile. He was going really well on the far turn and I had plenty of room turning for home. But he just won’t change leads. He knows where the wire is and he actually changed leads right after we crossed the wire. He’s got plenty of ability. Gun Runner never changed leads and he turned out to be okay.”

Still Having Fun, a sophomore son of Old Fashioned trained by Keefe for owners Gary Barber, Wachtel Racing and Terp Racing {Jim Scott], has won two straight stakes and will likely next point to the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes for three-year-olds here on March 17 and then the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes for three-year-olds in April. Keefe admitted it was still too early to plan that far in advance, but he was impressed with the colt’s talent again and continued ability to overcome his refusal to change leads late.

“I like to give them a few days before I start looking at what’s next, but ideally the Private Terms would be the best spot for him,” Keefe said. “He didn’t have any trouble getting seven furlongs last time and he really didn’t have any trouble with the mile today. He still won’t change leads. His exercise rider, Pete Brown-Whale, has done a tremendous job with him. He’s on him every morning. This colt keeps improving and I don’t think the added distance or the added turn is going to affect him. He’s been a pleasure to train and watch him progress and the owners have been very supportive.”

When Barber and Wachtel purchased a two-thirds interest in Still Having Fun, they left him with Keefe with a minor caveat. The current owners gave Keefe three races to garner a win with him, and after each win the three starts resets. Still Having Fun has won back-to-back stakes and now Keefe will have him for at least three more starts, ideally the Private Terms, the Federico Tesio and the Preakness Stakes and perhaps even more outings beyond that trio.

“I have him for three races and if he wins in that span I get him for another three races, so now it resets,” Keefe said. “But, it’s not officially set in stone. They’re not going to take him from me if he’s doing good and keeps improving. They’ve been very supportive. We’ll likely try him in the Private Terms next and then the Tesio. Right now he’s still green and he won’t change leads, but the talent is definitely there.”

Certainly he’ll have options going forward. He’s a Maryland-bred, with Keefe co-breeding him along with Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes.

“He didn’t have any trouble with the mile today and I’m eager to see how he does in the Private Terms and the Tesio,” Lynch said. “I won the Tesio last year on Twisted Tom and I would like to win it again this year on this colt. He’s a Maryland horse and he’s Maryland-bred and that’s always an added bonus.”

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