By Ryan Martin/Fair Grounds Barn Notes
Trainer Joe Sharp and jockey Adam Beschizza have found a lot of success together at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots having won 11 races together so far during the Winter Meet, but they could take their success to the next level when Into Summer goes into the starting gate for Saturday’s $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes, a one mile event for 3-year-old fillies over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Sharp first met Beschizza when working as Mike Stidham’s assistant at the Fair Grounds while Beschizza was galloping horses for the trainer. Since then, the two have developed a good relationship with one another.
“It’s funny, he came here about six or seven years ago when I first met him as an assistant for Stidham and I sort of took him under my wing,” Sharp said. “He even flew in for my first Breeders’ Cup with Sapphire Kitten (4th in the 2015 Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland) and then he came back two years ago and I rode him in a couple of races here at the Fair Grounds.”
While Beschizza would like to get a stakes victory for Sharp on Saturday, he believes that the sky is the limit. Should he win this Saturday, it also would be his first stakes victory in the United States.
“I’d like to say that a win like this would be the icing on the cake but I hope that there’s more to come,” Beschizza said. “It’s nice to be aboard his horses approaching this type of race. She got a nice draw and has run well in defeat. I think there shouldn’t be very many excuses going into (Saturday).”
Owned by Brad Grady, Into Summer will be facing stakes company for the first time in the Pago
Hop where she will break from post two. Last time out, she was second at Keeneland in an allowance race on Oct. 28, which was taken off the turf.
“It’s a tough spot,” Sharp said. “The Pago Hop has come up pretty light in past years, but this is one of the toughest fields I can remember this race having. Her numbers are good though and she’s run well against competitive fields.”
Such competitive fields include an allowance event at Kentucky Downs in September, where she was second behind two-time winner Proud Reunion and finished ahead of graded stakes-placed Awesome Boss, who was third in that race. She also faced stakes placed Overnegotiate and Majestic Bonnie in an allowance race over the Saratoga turf course on Aug. 3 and was a close but troubled fifth beaten 3¼ lengths.
“In the Saratoga race, she had a tough trip,” Sharp said. “She was on the rail was stuck inside the whole way around.”