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Take The Points takes the Secretariat Stakes
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff

The start of the Secretriat one-and-quarter mile turf thoroughbred race at Arlington Park on Saturday August 8th.


George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/8/2009 9:01 PM

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Don Lucarelli said he has always been the contrarian when it comes to picking sports games.

"I've always liked the underdog," said the upstate New Yorker. "My partner (Jack Wolf) are I are avid sports bettors and we always take the underdog."

In gambling terms, such as the NFL or NBA, that means "taking the points."

For those in the crowd of 28,141 at Arlington Park who chose to take the thoroughbred "Take The Points" - Lucarelli's 3-year-old colt in Saturday's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes - they were smiling after the race.

Following a fierce stretch duel with Black Island Bear, Take The Points fought back on the outside just before the wire to pull out a victory in the $400,000 Grade I turf event for 3 year olds.

"Take The Points, a son of Even The Score, was third by less than a length in the Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in his last race July 18.

Lucarelli co-owns Take The Points with Wolf, Mike and Suzanne Masters, Glen Hadden and the Union Mill Racing outfit. They make up the Starlight Partners.

"Jack and I are avid sports bettors and we always take the points, thus the name of our horse," Lucarelli said.

Funny thing about Saturday?

Lucarelli and his group had to root for the favorite.

Take the Points went off at 5-2, followed by eighth-place finisher Reb (7-2) and runner-up Black Bear Island (7-2).

Last-place finisher Hoosier Kingdom (39-1) set the fractions all the way to the final turn, where Black Island Bear surged to the lead from just off the pace.

But Take The Points, racing a settled third most of the way under Jockey Kent Desormeaux, ranged up the three wide on the final turn and hooked up with Irish-bred Black Island Bear nearing the eighth pole.

Both horses showed resistance to the wire before Take The Points, trained by Todd Pletcher, prevailed for his third win in 10 career starts for earnings of nearly $600,000.

"It was just the last 20 yards, or so, he went dead on me," said Johnny Murtaugh, who rode Black Island Bear for trainer Aidan O'Brien. "The winner just got me at the wire."

For Lucarelli and Wolf, Take The Points became their third Grade I winner (Octave and Monbo) since they began in the business in 2004.

"We were looking for a real close-knit partnership with people willing to risk a fair amount of money to get in," said Lucarelli, who works in the building materials business. "And we are hoping to compete at the highest level."

They did just that Saturday, winning the third leg of the Mid-America Triple.

"He is a wonderful horse," Desormeaux said. "He has a great stride and he showed it throughout the race. He really had a strong stride down the lane. It was great race and he ran great."