“LUBASH” AWARDED G3 TROPICAL PARK HANDICAP

lubashHaving amassed 17 victories and $1.4 million in earnings during a 50-race career, Lubash was the most experienced and accomplished horse that went to post Nov. 26 for the 100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park West.

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A veteran of seven racing seasons, winning races has become old hat for Aliyu Ben J Stables’ 9-year-old turf star, but the son of Freud actually experienced something new in Saturday’s 1 1/16 turf event. After finishing second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Rose Brier, Lubash was placed first after stewards determined that the first-place finisher interfered with his stretch run.

“I really don’t like to win a race that way. … Nevertheless, I’m thrilled for the horse. He’s a wonderful horse. He’s 9 years old. He overcame me for many years, which is great,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “I don’t like to win a race that way, but we’ll take it.”

Lubash, the 9-2 fourth betting choice, settled in seventh under jockey Joe Bravo as Rose Brier stalked pacesetter Applicator around the first turn and along the backstretch. Rose Brier, the 5-2 favorite ridden by Trevor McCarthy, moved alongside the tiring pacesetter leaving the turn into the homestretch while Lubash was making a five-wide move.

Midway through the stretch, Rose Brier came out into the path of the oncoming Lubash, whom Bravo had to check to avoid clipping heels with the favorite. The Jane Cibelli-trained Rose Brier drew away in deep stretch, while Lubash held on to finish second, a length ahead of Coalport and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Lubash, who captured the 2014 Tropical Turf, was subsequently awarded his 18th victory after the stewards reviewed the stretch incident that occurred as the field passed the hedge at the end of the turf-course chute.

“What a pretty classy old horse. You’ve got to love this guy. I don’t know if Trevor’s horse spooked from the inside or what, but he came out a long way and we were impeded,” Bravo said. “I’m glad everything worked out today. Lubash is a classy old warrior. He’s a New York-bred, but he wins anywhere.”

It had been a great day for the Maryland-based McCarthy, who rode two winners, including Rainbow Heir in the $75,000 Gin Rummy Champ.

“He was running for me and he just leaned in a little bit. I saw the chute coming and I said, ‘OK, let me hit him left-handed just so he knows.’ I hit him once and I hit him twice, and he just ducked. It just seemed like something spooked him and caught him off guard and he just ducked out,” McCarthy said. “He was probably much the best today, and it’s a shame that it really cost him.”

Rose Brier completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.47 while finishing first, although Lubash picked up the $60,140 winner’s share of the purse to push his earnings within $12,000 of the $1.5 million mark. It’s hasn’t been determined if he will be given an opportunity to surpass that milestone.

“I’m not sure (what’s next). The idea was to retire him, but it’s hard to retire a horse that just won a grade III,” Clement said. “It will be up to the owner.”