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Sonneteer rides first to Fifth

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Sonneteer rekindled his love affair with Oaklawn Park and, on his third visit, finally reached the track's winner's circle Friday.

Rocking the toteboard in his first two local starts, the 4-year-old Midnight Lute colt stumped the local crowd again with a three-quarter-length victory in the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes. Leading home a parade of three longshots 25-1 or higher, Sonneteer paid $61.60 after the homebred's second win in 18 starts for historic Calumet Farm of Lexington, Ky.

Recent claimer Futile led in midstretch at 25-1 but could not hold off the winner, who circled the field. Far Right, a two-time Oaklawn stakes winner as a 3-year-old in 2015, held on for third at 26-1. Then came Untrapped (2-1) and Dazzling Gem (9-5 pick), who like Far Right have Arkansas owners and received the most betting action in the 12-horse field.

The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen STAKES AND SMILES: Jockey C.J. McMahon is led into the winner's circle on Sonneteer after winning the $125,000 F...

Sonneteer teased trainer Keith Desormeaux throughout his 3-year-old season, placing second in Oaklawn's Grade 2 Rebel at 112-1 and fourth (beaten by two lengths) in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. That got him in the Kentucky Derby (16th) while still a maiden, Sonneteer finally winning in a Del Mar grass race but entering the Fifth Season 1 for 17.

Six days after working at Santa Anita, Sonneteer made his 4-year-old debut under veteran jockey C.J. McMahon, who also won the ninth-race finale with Arkansas-bred newcomer Spotitude ($60.80) for trainer Al Cates.

"Mr. Keith (Desormeaux) gave me a call from California and just told me to let him break and let him do his thing ... let him be a horse," said McMahon. "That's what I did. He broke, and when I took a hold of him down the backside, he took off with me at the same time. It was off to the races from there."

Eighth midway on the second turn, Sonneteer took the overland route at the top of the stretch, veering inside after making the lead. Carrying 117 pounds from post 10, the March 1 foal ran the good-rated mile and sixteenth in 1:45.40.

"Sonneteer must really just love this racetrack," said jockey Channing Hill, who said his mount, Far Right, "ran good, back to his old days." Trained by Wayne Catalano, Hill's father-in-law, the 6-year-old ridgling had only one victory the last two years after taking Oaklawn's Smarty Jones and Grade 3 Southwest en route to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 for trainer Ron Moquett.

"He probably needed this a little bit," Hill said, "and hopefully this is the Far Right we saw a couple years ago."

Futile, in the gelding's first Oaklawn appearance, dueled for the early lead before shaking loose from Dan the Go to Man and opening two lengths in the stretch.

"About then," said trainer Chris Hartman, "I grabbed my chest and said (imitating comedian Redd Foxx), 'This might be the big one.'"

Holding second by three quarters of a length, 5-year-old Futile made his second strong start for Hartman off a $32,000 November claim at Churchill Downs. Sixteen days later, Broken Vow's gelding finished a half-length back when second in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup.

"I wasn't stunned today, not completely surprised," said Hartman, a past Oaklawn training champion. "The horse has been training well and doing everything super good." Jockey Rodney Prescott, he said, "put a beautiful ride on him. You can't fault him."

Sports on 01/13/2018

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