Jockey Paco Lopez wins 3 stakes @ Gulfstream Park on Florida Million Preview Day
Trainer Bill White went on a wild ride at Gulfstream Park Saturday and came away with an eventful victory in the $125,000 Juvenile Sprint, one of eight races for Florida-breds in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Preview.
The White-trained Bolita Boyz finished second behind favored Wildcat Red in the 6 ½-length sprint for 2-year-olds, only to be declared the winner when the first-place finisher was disqualified for interference in the stretch run.
Yet, White’s day had become a little hectic even before Saturday’s third race when jockey Jeffrey Sanchez had become ill after riding Awesome Belle for a second-place finish in the $150,000 Distaff Preview.
“What a carousel ride that was. When they said, ‘Riders Up,’ that was the first time I knew I needed a rider. The field was already mounted. I had to unsaddle my horse and figure out who I wanted to ride my horse,” White said. “And then to win the race on a disqualification – I’ve won a lot of races, but I haven’t been on a roller coaster like this one.”
White named Paco Lopez to ride Bolita Boyz, the 6-1 fourth betting choice who closed from far back after encountering traffic on the turn, as well as having to alter course in mid-stretch when Wildcat Red drifted outside. Following an inquiry, the stewards determined that the actions of Wildcat Red were sufficient to require a disqualification of the 3-5 favorite, who had prevailed by 1 ¼ lengths.
“He was checked and steadied somewhere around the three-eighths pole – he gave up two, three lengths there – and still angled out of that to make a run,” White said. “I think with that and if he wasn’t bothered inside the eighth-pole, he would have won on his own.”
Wildcat Red was placed second ahead of third-place finisher Pachanga Party.
“He’s just green. When I hit him with my right hand, he went right. When I hit him with the left hand, he went left. He’ll learn from this,” said Edgard Zayas, who rode the previously undefeated Wildcat Red, who ran the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:17.92.
Lopez, who went on to ride three winners Saturday, was the fortunate recipient of a winning mount in the Juvenile Sprint.
“I feel sorry for Jeffrey Sanchez. I picked up the mount in the jock’s room,” Lopez said. “Mr. White told me there was a lot of speed in the race and to take him back and make one run. Down the stretch (Wildcat Red) went out and I tried to go inside.”
White took a lot of encouragement for the future from his colt’s performance.
“We don’t think he has been allowed yet to do what he wants to do. He’s bred to go longer. He has a turf pedigree on the bottom side,” White said. “So what makes us excited is that if he’s doing this well at these distances, there’s a chance at a greater distance – or possibly on turf – he may be even better than what you see so far.”
The victory was the third straight for Bolita Boyz, a son of Act of Duty owned by GZS Stables.
The Juvenile Sprint was one of four stakes on Saturday’s card for Florida-bred 2-year-olds.
In the $125,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint, Puddifoot surged in the stretch to draw away to victory by a commanding six lengths, giving Lopez his second win of the Sunshine Millions Preview program.
Trained by Eddie Plesa, the 3-2 favorite in a field of 14 2-year-old fillies had previously captured her debut by nearly five lengths at Monmouth Park on Sept. 28.
Owned by Trilogy Stable, EICO Stable and Laurie Plesa, the daughter of Red Giant ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:17.45. Sunset Silhouette, a 54-1 long shot ridden by Manoel Cruz, finished second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of pacesetter Secret Kitten, the 8-5 second choice.
“The race shaped up the way I thought it would,” Plesa said. “If she comes out of the race OK, we’ll definitely continue with the series.”
In the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Turf, Courtesan rallied late under Joe Bravo to catch front-running Lemon Point in the shadow of the finish line to win by three-quarters of a length.
The Christophe Clement-trained filly, who broke her maiden at Saratoga and finished third in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last time out, ran a mile on turf in 1:39.97.
“She’s a lovely filly. She ran very well today. After racing at Keeneland, we thought this would be a good spot for her, since she’s a Florida-bred,” said Clement’s assistant trainer Thomas Brandebourger, who stated that the daughter of Street Sense would remain in training in Florida at Payson Park.
Lemon Drop Kid, a maiden winner at Belmont Park in her turf debut, finished second under Jose Lezcano, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Cambiata.
In the $100,000 Juvenile Turf, Notyouraveragejoe capped the $1 million program for Florida-breds with a 33-1 upset victory under Lopez.
The 2-year-old son of Discreet Cat made his turf debut a winning one, stalking pacesetter Gelfenstein into the stretch before edging away to victory by a half-length.
Notyouraveragejoe, who broke his maiden in his fourth career start in an off-the-turf race at Gulfstream on Sept. 15, ran a mile on turf in 1:39.66.
“We tried him a couple times going short on the dirt. He wanted to go long. The last time we tried him on the dirt he really dug in so we thought we’d try him on the turf,” trainer Steve DiMauro said. “The owner has a half-sister (Mysterious Jewel) who did really well on the turf.”
Here’s Johnny, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Kent Desormeaux, finished second, a head in front of Gelfenstein and jockey Edgard Zayas.