INDIAN LAKE ALL THE WAY IN BALD EAGLE DERBY

Indian Lake
Indian Lake won the Bald Eagle Derby at Pimlico. Photo Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.

Gap View Stables and Jagger, Inc.’s Indian Lake, having only run twice previously on turf and never farther than a mile and 70 yards in 16 starts, conquered both the course and distance with a front-running three-quarter-length triumph over favored Experience in Saturday’s $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Jockey Ruben Silvera, leading the rider standings at Parx with 132 wins since Jan. 1, gave Indian Lake ($8.60) an ideal trip, establishing a comfortable early lead with plenty left for a drive to the wire in the Daredevil gelding’s first stakes victory.

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In fact, Indian Lake hadn’t won since Silvera was last aboard in an April 12 optional claimer at Parx, having gone winless in four subsequent starts, three of them in stakes. He ran fourth in the one-mile James W. Murphy May 15 on the Pimlico turf, second in an off-the-grass Jersey Derby May 28 and third in the Sussex July 8 at Delaware Park.

“He rides all my horses at Parx; I told him absolutely nothing. Sometimes I feel when I have a good rider, that’s best. Just get the feel of the race and do your best,” winning trainer and co-owner Jamie Ness said. “Great race. Lot of fun.”

Silvera was able to get away with easy splits of 24.59 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 50.83 for a half, tracked by Shackled Love, a stakes winner on dirt making his turf debut, and 56-1 long shot Hanford along the rail. The main challengers didn’t get any closer as Indian Lake went six furlongs in 1:17.51 and a mile in 1:44.09.

“[Shackled Love] had the speed, so it all depended on how I break. He broke pretty good and nobody went, so I tried to control the pace in the beginning. I won the race in the beginning,” Silvera said. “Jamie is a good guy, a good trainer. He never gives me instructions. He trusts me. He says, ‘You are the jockey, you know what you’re doing.’

“I know the horse. He’s a good horse. He likes to run in front,” he added. “Every time when he feels a horse behind him, he’s a different horse. He was really relaxed all the way around.”

Experienced, racing for just the second time off a gutsy maiden special weight triumph June 21 at Delaware in debut, swung wide at the top of the stretch after racing near the back of the field to make a run, but was unable to catch the winner. It was three-quarters of a length back to Wootton Assett, who edged Take Profit by a nose for third. Hanford and Shackled Love completed the order of finish.

“When I saw 1:17, and this is a good horse, I thought it’s going to take a pretty good horse to catch him. We were stretching our distance, but he’s a good horse,” Ness said. “He galloped out good. You can’t let a good horse go that slow and expect to beat him. I give all the credit in the world to Ruben on that one.”

The Bald Eagle honors Harry Guggenheim’s two-time winner of the Washington D.C. International. His first victory, in 1959, came in a course-record 2:28 for 1 ½ miles and his second, in 1960, helped clinch champion handicap horse honors. Bald Eagle also set track records at Aqueduct and Hialeah and retired with 12 wins, all in stakes, and $692,122 in purse earnings from 29 lifetime starts. 

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