Cooke Creek
Cooke Creek held off Affable Monarch to win the Rocky Run Stakes. Photo by

Maybe it was a sign.

Cooke Creek was the first horse in the paddock prior to Delaware Park’s $50,000 Rocky Run Stakes for juveniles, and his firstness didn’t stop there. Cooke Creek grabbed the lead in mid-stretch and held off a determined late run from Affable Monarch to win by a half-length in the one-mile contest.

Cooke Creek, a son of Uncle Mo, is now two-for-two and has earnings of more than $50,000.

“I had really a lot of faith on this horse today just because of the way he won last time,” winning rider Angel Suarez said. “It was really impressive.”

One question facing Cooke Creek today — as it was facing a number of the 10 runners — was how he would handle the distance. Cooke Creek had won impressively at first asking, but that was going 5 ½ furlongs.

“It looked like once he turned for home [on debut], he wanted to keep on going, and that was short,” Suarez said.

Suarez said the only advice he’d received from trainer Jerry O’Dwyer — who did not make the race because, Suarez said, he was stuck in traffic — was to try to break well and then let the horse get comfortable.

He was able to accomplish that, with his mount tracking two or three lengths behind the early pace while out wide and in the clear.

“I kept the horse on the outside, clear trip,” Suarez said. “I rode the horse like the best horse in the race.”

Another 13-1 runner, Keiko Krahe, carved out the early fractions, 49.67 seconds for the half-mile and 1:14.09 for three quarters, but by then his lead had dwindled to a head. Soon it was gone altogether, as the Scott Peck-trained No Sabe Nada took the advantage in upper stretch.

Rounding the turn, Husband Material, with Daniel Centeno, mounted a bid.

“Once I saw Danny trying to go through on the inside rail, he had not much room,” Suarez said. “I said, ‘OK, it’s time to go now.’”

Cooke Creek, widest of all, took charge in mid-stretch and opened up before Affable Monarch, the lukewarm 2.30-1 post-time favorite ridden by Isaac Castillo for trainer Jorge Duarte, made a strong bid that turned out to be just a bit too late.

Running time for the flat mile over a fast sealed strip was 1:39.71. 

Cooke Creek is the second foal to race out of the graded stakes-winning Bernardini mare Genre. He was bred in Kentucky by Candy Meadows LLC and is owned by Cheyenne Stable LLC.

Sheldon Russell rode Cooke Creek in his three-length debut victory, which came over the strip September 8. But with Russell on the shelf with a foot injury, Suarez got the chance to shine today.

Cooke Creek paid $29.60 to win and topped an exacta, with the favorite underneath, that returned $74.80 for a one-dollar wager. No Sabe Nada held third, two lengths behind Affable Monarch.

The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Forty Stripes was anxious prior to the race and lost rider Jose Ferrer soon after the gates opened when veering outwards. In the process he impeded Bold Leader and Fierce Warrior.

Ferrer walked to the ambulance with assistance and was alert and talking with other jockeys after the race.