Jack o’Lantern Lights up Hollywood Prevue Stakes
Jack o’Lantern was purchased by Purple Shamrock Racing and Bruce Chandler at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale for $10 500. Trainer Richard Matlow immediately liked Jack o’ Lantern, who was sired by Flatter out of the mare Northern Guide, commenting that he had good dimension and a great walking stride. Matlow’s decision to enter Jack o’ Lantern in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes because he was eligible paid off wonderfully on Sunday 23 November 2008, as jockey Isaias Enriquez steered the beautiful dark bay colt to victory.
Running on the Cushion Track of Hollywood Park Racecourse did not seem to disturb Jack o’ Lantern as he entered the starting gates for his third career start. After placing fifth in his first career start, Matlow added blinkers to Jack o’Lantern’s equipment, which seems to have made a great difference in his performance, as he went on to win his second career start. But on Sunday, Jack o’Lantern, who was the longest shot of the race, proved that getting an opportunity at the right time and being able to open up unrivaled power can lead to a great upset and magnificent victory.
The lead was taken by Backbackbackbone in the early stages of the race, while Jack o’Lantern struggled a little after being bumped. But Enriquez found a gap on the inside to move them up past the other contenders and place them in a good position to make a move for the lead. The race favorite, Azul Leon, and jockey Garrett Gomez were forced to make a run for the leading position on the outside, so by the time the field reached the final stretch it was anyone’s race. But the moment Enriquez asked Jack o’Lantern to give his last effort towards the wire, they took off at an amazing speed, opening a wide gap between them and the second place finisher Azul Leon.
Winning the Grade Three Hollywood Prevue Stakes was especially sweet for Richard Matlow, who had recently been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). After the race, Matlow commented: “I was misdiagnosed for about a year. I’ve got a bad foot and my hands are not good, but other than that I’m not bad, still come to the barn every day. This is probably one of my biggest wins, first graded stakes.”