Mr Magazine and Quietncalculating, a gelding and a filly who epitomize the term "blue collar horse," both gritted out hard-working victories in the Labor Day stakes races at Fort Erie Race Track.
Mr Magazine, a 5-year-old who has been carrying the mail for trainer Lou Capi for four years, came from behind and battled through traffic to take the $31,100 Puss N Boots stakes by 1 1/4 lengths.
Quietncalculating, snatched for a $4,000 claim by trainer Lynn Simon in late June, opened a big lead and then survived a furious three-horse stretch drive to win the $31,600 Missmoneypenny Stakes by a neck and pay $9.90.
Mr Magazine, who paid $7.60 as the second choice of the crowd of about 5,000, had the tougher trip in the 1 1/1 6-mile turf races for horses with at least three Fort Erie starts in 1999.
With Frank Todd, Jr., aboard, the brown gelding was squeezed between horses on the first turn, withstood a claim of foul on the backstretch, got checked in traffic on the second turn, and bulled his way between horses at the top of the stretch before he caught Razzia, the tiring favorite, and drew off. It was his 12th win in 44 career starts but his first victory in seven races on the grass.
"I was hoping I'd get through on the rail turning for home but the hole didn't open and I was lucky enough that I was able to split horses and he did the rest on his own," said Todd, who got the mount after regular rider Tyrone Harding opted to ride at Woodbine Monday.
In keeping with tradition (the Puss N Boots is named for the horse who jumped into an infield lake in 1961), Todd and Anthony Rannelli, rider of Quietncalculating, both dived into the water after their winner's circle ceremonies. "It looks like he's got a new rider," said Capi, who has trained Mr Magazine since the "born and raised in Port Colborne" horse was a baby. In 44 career starts, he has posted a 12-13-3 record and earned $127,433. It was his fifth win in 14 starts this year.
"We were planning on this all year," Capi said. "I knew he loved the turf all along. It was just a matter of maturity and waiting for the horse to develop."
While Mr Magazine has been with Capi most of his life, Quietncalculating did not join the Simon stable until June 20, when the chestnut filly was claimed at Fort Erie by owners Bert Simon of Buffalo (the trainer's father), and Nick Mileni of Fort Erie.
In her second start for the new barn, Quietncalculating won the $26,000 Border Cup stakes, also at this distance on the grass.
"I looked back in her record and it looked like she would like the turf. And she was out of a Smarten mare, good turf breeding," said Mileni.
"She needed an extreme amount of conditioning," said Lynn Simon. "That and spacing her races and switching her to the surface she likes best."
Rannelli, who won two earlier races, said he was surprised to find himself in front as soon as the gate opened.
"I figured there would be two other horses in front and I figured I'd get my horse to settle a little bit behind them. But it worked out all right," Rannelli said.
After romping alone on the lead for about 7 furlongs, Quietncalculating was joined on the inside by Shes Our Fastest (Brian Bochinski up) and on the outside by True Kashmir (Chris Griffith).
The trio battled down the stretch as a team and, with about 50 yards left, it looked like She's Our Fastest stuck her nose in front for a stride or two.
"She pretty near got headed," Rannelli said, "but she dug back in and tried real hard. I've got to give the filly a lot of credit."
It was her third win -- and ninth in-the-money finish -- in 20 starts.
Fort Erie management announced plans for an extra seven-horse card of racing Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The program will be run as part of an invitation-only unveiling of the slot-machine casino from 4 to 7 p.m.