LAUREL -- He Is Risen outran expected front-runner Sunny Sunrise for the lead yesterday in the $100,000 Polynesian Handicap at Laurel Race Course and drew off over a sloppy track to post a 6 1/4 -length win.
Peanut Butter Onit, winner of his past two starts at Monmouth Park, rallied to finish second, one-half length in front of Sunny Sunrise, the 6-5 favorite.
A speed duel never developed between the pace-setters.
Greg Hutton, who rode He Is Risen, said he expected Mike Luzzi to take the lead with Sunny Sunrise, who was also the beaten favorite in his last start, the Frank J. De Francis Dash on July 18. "I was surprised when he [Luzzi] took back," Hutton said.
Hutton added that he had a chance to give his horse a breather around the final turn and had plenty of horse left for the stretch run.
Trainer Jerry Robb said He Is Risen has shown improvement since a throat operation about two months ago. "He also loves the slop," Robb said.
Owner Arnold Heft had purchased He Is Risen as an unraced 2-year-old for $70,000 from Virginia bloodstock agent Allen Jenkins. Heft previously won stakes with Pulverizing, another horse he had purchased from Jenkins.
Robb thought He Is Risen might develop into a classics contender last year. "But he developed an ankle problem, and we had to turn him out," he said.
The Polynesian was the first stakes victory for the 4-year-old son of Dixieland Band. It was only fitting, because He Is Risen is a great-great grandson of Polynesian, who gained fame mostly for siring Native Dancer.
The $60,000 winner's share yesterday increased He Is Risen's earnings to 225,235.
Closing of Pimlico training facility discussed
Track operator Joe De Francis, general manager Jim
Mango and director of racing Tim Capps met with eight trainers based at Pimlico Race Couse yesterday to discuss shutting the Baltimore track as a training facility after Pimlico's fall meet ends Oct. 6.
Trainers with horses stabled at Pimlico would be assigned stalls at Laurel or at the Bowie Training Center.
De Francis has said it costs too much to keep three tracks open year-round, especially because there are an estimated 1,000 empty stalls.
But Pimlico horsemen are outraged and are intending to fight the move.
Another meeting has been set for Wednesday afternoon at Pimlico between track management and Pimlico-based horsemen.
Sensational Handicap rescheduled
Because of recent rains, Laurel management postponed the Sensational Handicap, which was carded for the grass today at Laurel, and rescheduled it for next Sunday.
The track has been forced to move races off the turf course in recent days because of the wet conditions. On Thursday the jockeys refused to ride the course minutes before a field for a grass race was scheduled to go to the post.