The Critical Way continued his ascent in the turf sprint division with a popular victory over The Connector in Saturday’s $100,000 Wolf Hill Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs at Monmouth Park.
Trained by Jose Delgado for Monster Racing Stables, The Critical Way tracked the early pace while riding the inner pocket as The Connector and Readyforprimetime sparred in the opening furlongs.
Paco Lopez eased The Critical Way to the outside on the turn, and the 7-year-old son of Tizway surged to the front with a three-wide bid.
The Connector was game along the rail, but The Critical Way was simply too good. Sent away as the authoritative 1-10 betting favorite, The Critical Way completed the distance in 1:01.11 while three-quarters of a length better than The Connector. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Cajun Casanova in third. Slow-breaking Fox Rox, Readyforprimetime, and Mojovation rounded out the order of finish. I Got a Rock scratched.
The Critical Way might not have been fully cranked for this start.
“He really wasn’t on schedule for this race,” Delgado said in the winner’s enclosure. “We ran him today as a work and we did well with the horse.”
Usually a speedball, The Critical Way has now successfully rated in his last two races, both stakes wins at Monmouth.
“I love it,” Delgado said about the gelding’s new tactical gear. “We’re going in the right direction with the horse.”
With the ultimate goal the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint going five furlongs at Del Mar on Nov. 6, Delgado mapped out a short-term plan for The Critical Way.
“Now, we’re thinking about Saratoga [Grade 3, $200,000 Troy Stakes on Aug. 6], but definitely we’re going to Parx [Grade 3, $200,000 Parx Dash on Aug. 24]. He did it very easy today.”
Jockey Florent Geroux was pleased with The Connector’s effort.
“Good trip,” Geroux said. “I was a little bit surprised he made the lead. My horse was very brave, but the winner was just a little too much for him today.”
The Critical Way earned his ninth lifetime victory from 26 starts. The Wolf Hill was the fifth stakes triumph of his career. He has now hit the board in his last nine races.
“He’s a professional,” Delgado said. “He does everything that I ask him to do in the morning, and we just keep him happy. Sometimes they get too aggressive in the morning. He’s really calm. I think that’s the key to keep him sound and running consistently every time.”
-edited from http://www.drf.com