Crafty Spector digs in for win in $100,000 Gus Grissom Stakes

Everything lined up perfectly for Crafty Spector in the 17th running of the Gus Grissom Stakes Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Indiana Grand. As a result, the five-year-old gelding took advantage of his surroundings and rallied home as the upset winner for owner-trainer John Haran.


Crafty Spector stretches out in the final strides of the $100,000 Gus Grissom to give jockey Alex Contreras his third win of the day at Indiana Grand Wed. Oct. 4. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Guided by Jockey Alex Contreras, Crafty Spector left the starting gate handily from the center of the pack in the 12-horse field. Evader and Jon Court grabbed the early lead on the inside and Derby Express and Malcolm Franklin sat to their outside to press the early pace in the one and one-sixteenth mile event. Contreras was able to keep Crafty Spector just to the outside of Calandave and Tommy Pompell in the early goings in fourth and stay close to the leaders down the backstretch.

 In the turn, Contreras began to ask Crafty Spector for a little more exertion, and he readily delivered. Maintaining a spot in the center of the track, the duo began to move forward with only Derby Express left to overtake in the stretch. Both horses dug in gamely to the wire, but in the end, it was Crafty Spector who crossed under the wire first by one and one-half lengths for the win over Derby Express. Operation Stevie and Constantino Roman rallied from off the pace to close well for third. The time of the race was 1:44.02.

 “I knew this horse had a little speed,” said Contreras, who recorded his third win of the day with Crafty Spector. “I talked with John (Haran) before the race and he said he wanted me to keep pressure on the front ones, which we were able to do. I wanted to stay close enough and the trip worked out perfectly. When it was time to go, I asked him and he got it done.”


Owner-trainer John Haran and jockey Alex Contreras are joined by breeder Rita Hughes and her husband to celebrate the win by Crafty Spector in the $100,000 Gus Grissom Wed. Oct. 4. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Crafty Spector, the sixth choice of the field, paid $39.80, $19.20, and $7.40 across the board. The son of Bye Bye Crafty earned his seventh career win in 28 career starts and picked up his fourth win in 10 starts for 2017 for Haran, who is having a banner year at Indiana Grand.

 “I claimed this horse for $5,000 at Hawthorne two years ago,” said Haran. “He is a race horse and he improves every year and is getting better. I’ve been running him in some really tough spots but he’s very honest and tries very hard. He’s very easy to train, which means a lot. When you have one that is easy to train and they have a good mind, it makes it a lot easier.”

 Haran is currently ranked third in the trainer standings this season. His win with Crafty Spector was his 32nd trip to the winner’s circle in Indiana for 2017. The native of Ireland has been racing horses in the United States for the past 32 years. Although he still calls Chicago home and that is where his farm is located, he is investing in the racing program in Indiana.

 “I bought six very nice Indiana breds this spring,” said Haran. “And, of those six, I’ve only raced one so far, so we are looking forward to racing them. We’ve had a great year and we have been very blessed.”