Distance Classic a spicy first stakes win

Published March 20, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - The 46th annual $100,000 Distance Classic was considered before the race to be a toss-up.

J's Habanero had other ideas, winning Derby Lane's richest race Saturday night in near-record time.

Representing first-year Brumage/Filipelli Kennel, J's Habanero defeated Its Dust Em by 5 lengths to win his first stakes race and the top prize of $32,000 in front of 3,692 fans.

The 2-year-old brindle male by Deuce's Wild and J's Bella broke out of the box first and was never threatened in the 660-yard race. His time of 37.09 seconds was the season's best at that distance and just shy of tying Awesome Memory's track record of 37.09 set in 1995.

J's Habanero paid $12.80, $7.80 and $4.80. Its Dust Em returned $7.00 and $4.20. Sure Do Shine paid $4.40.

In qualifying, J's Habanero was third in points as favorites won only one of 12 races.

It was the first stakes victory for the kennel, which opened with long-time friends Daryl Brumage and John Filipelli as partners. Jean Cargal is the dog's owner.

Trainer Kathi Graham, who also picked up her first stakes win, said she was confident J's Habanero would get the job done.

"I just knew he was going to win," Graham said. "When he first got the draw, I was kind of sad to hear that he had the 7 hole. But with the rain I thought the rail might not be as favorable, and the outside was the place to be."

Filipelli said J's Habanero's time was surprising, but not his performance.

"I didn't expect that kind of time," Filipelli said. "What he had to do was get out and go because there was a lot of inside speed. He broke awesomely. I knew it was over when he hit the lid like he did."

Brumage flew in from his Colorado home for the race.

"This was definitely worth it," he said.

The rest of the field in order of finish: Linckia, Whistler's Sound, favorite Grey's Irish Sea, Fuzzys Oklahoma and Descartes.