We had a busy weekend of stakes racing on the East and West coasts. Here's a recap of all the action!
$100,000 Mucho Macho Stakes - Gulfstream Park
GLADIATOR KING set the pace, leading the pack for the first half mile in :45.42. MIHOS settled in fifth. At the five-sixteenths pole, TROPHY CHASER edged passed the leader and WELL DEFINED to take the lead. MIHOS settled in fifth and briefly made contact with CODE OF HONOR in the backstretch before rallying. Overcoming the field five-wide, MIHOS drove to the wire edging TROPHY CHASER by a neck with a time of 1:37.56. GARTER AND TIE finished third. The Mucho Macho Man Stakes is the first prep race for the Florida Derby.
$100,000 Kitten's Joy Stakes (Turf) - Gulfstream Park
Changing things up for CASA CREED proved to be the right move for trainer Bill Mott. His first time on the turf, the colt took a short lead over ROYAL URN deep in the stretch and held off HENLEY'S JOY, taking the upset with 12-1 odds.
ROYAL URN set the pace with fast fractions of 24.58 and 49.03, intent on holding the lead. HENLEY'S JOY held back in fifth while CASA CREED pressed for the lead. While both fell short of CASA CREED, HENLEY'S JOY took second by a neck over ROYAL URN.
$100,000 Ginger Brew Stakes - Gulfstream Park
The Ginger Brew Stakes is a $100,000 turf race of 7 1/2 furlongs for 3 year old fillies. Hugging the rail, the homebred BOXWOOD out ran the 50-1 long shot, NONCENTS, to set the pace with very quick fractions of :22.45 and :47.19. Meanwhile RED ROUNDER settled in third on the inside and BEECHWOOD ELLA stayed four wide in fourth.
In six furlongs, FORTUNATE GIRL made a move on the far outside and PIVOTTINA came from the back as well, but BOXWOOD put them both away at the wire. PIVOTTINA held on for second while FORTUNATE GIRL finished third. BOXWOOD has three wins in five starts and has never finished worse than third.
$100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) - Santa Anita
Baffert trained and Godolphin owned COLISEUM was the 3-5 favorite in the Sham Stakes, but broke poorly but was able to travel through the pack. MUCH BETTER, also trained by Baffert, stalked and took command around the turn, but lost steam in the final furlong. GUNMETAL GRAY, on the other hand, held back in last for a relaxing run under Mike Smith before a making a late move in the second turn and scored the win by a length.
The 18-1 longshot, SUENO, finished second with a tired MUCH BETTER in third. The Kentucky Derby hopeful, COLISEUM, finished sixth of seven. This was the first stakes win for GUNMETAL GRAY, who finished second to GAME WINNER in the American Pharoah Stakes. He earned 10 points for the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.
$200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes - Santa Anita
Flavien Prat piloted BELLAFINA, while Drayden Van Dyke had the ride on MOTHER MOTHER. It wasn't long before Prat was in the clear on the amazing 3 year old BELLAFINA though. He smoothly guided her to the lead and that was all she needed. At the furlong pole, she was five lengths ahead and at the wire 8 1/2. Drayden did his best to keep MOTHER MOTHER in the fight and kept her in second place 1 ¾ lengths ahead of TOMLIN.
While on paper it looks like BELLAFINA had it in the bag from the get go, the truth is that she had a rough start and was squeezed in the chute. She wasn't quick to recover, but Prat was patient and let her work it out on her own as she headed towards the front.
$200,000 San Gabriel Stakes G2 - Santa Anita
It was anybody's guess at the end of the San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita. With three horses at the wire, it was the whiskers of NEXT SHARES that sent the gelding and his connections to the winner's circle. It was the geldings first start since his thirteenth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Sitting next to last with three furlongs left, jockey Geovanni Franco made his move around the far turn headed for home. The six year old is now Pegasus bound.
CLEOPATRA'S STRIKE stalked the pace and Flavien Prat did everything he could to finish one length ahead of LIAM THE CHARMER.