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2002 Tiki Diablo Hall of Fame Sprint, Oct. 12

Darwinn Survives the Tiki Diablo Sprint

SELMA, Texas- During a fierce three-way battle for the finish, apprentice jockey Josh Vaid rode Darwinn to victory in the Tiki Diablo Hall of Fame Sprint on Oct. 12 at Retama Park.

The bay, 4-year-old Arabian colt beat Royal Opal by a neck in the six-furlong stakes and crossed the wire in 1 minute, 19.22 seconds; just missing the track record of 1:19 for the distance by an Arabian breed set by Blaze of Gloree in 1997.

It was the fifth win in 15 starts for Darwinn, trained by Russell Werner, owned by Kenneth Werner and bred by Seahorse Farm in Georgia.

The $19,200 race boosted the colt's lifetime earnings to $51,507.

"The horse has a lot of heart," Vaid said. "He did a great job." Darwinn entered the race from the 10th post while carrying 122 pounds. The son of Ala Croixnoire out of Dunaforta by Dunajec made a clean start against 10 other rivals, including odds-on favorites Mickey Toys, Southern Spirit and stable mate Dynamite III.

Mistoluba made the early lead along the rail at the quarter pole, with Newscaster and Royal Opal close behind, going shoulder to shoulder on the outside. Darwinn chased the pacesetters from fourth place, going through the first quarter in 24.96. "I was expecting to go to the lead pretty easily, but they were humming on the front end," Vaid recalled.

However, as the field raced through the far turn, Darwinn rallied and broke to an outside lane past a tiring Mistoluba, while Royal Opal took the lead by a head over Newscaster. At the top of the stretch, Darwinn passed Newscaster on his left and began fixing his sights on Royal Opal, who was gaining ground near the rail. With Southern Spirit making a gallant late bid on his right, Darwinn just managed to get past Royal Opal at the wire. "It came up a little tighter than I thought it would," said Vaid. "But I asked (Darwinn) to run at the quarter pole, and then he gave me everything he had. The horse doesn't know how to give up."

Darwinn paid $6.60 to win, $4 to place and $2.60 to show.

Allen Dupuy rode Royal Opal, who ran second by a neck over Rita Helton and Southern Spirit. Good to Go finished fourth. Dynamite III came up empty in deep stretch and finished fifth. Mickeys Toys was no factor.

The Tiki Diablo Hall of Fame Sprint was part of Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame night at Retama, which also included seven thoroughbred stakes races. Sam Vasquez graciously sponsored the race in honored memory of his great racehorse, Tiki Diablo.

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