Navarro gets another with Flowers for Lisa’s Claiming Crown Jewel win

NavarroFlowers for Lisa finished off a banner day for trainer Jorge Navarro Saturday, registering a front-running triumph in the $200,000 Jewel, the grand finale of the $1 million Claiming Crown and an 11-race program on the first day of Gulfstream Park’s 2017-2018 Championship Meet.

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About an hour after Navarro saddled 2017 Gulfstream Park Handicap winner Sharp Azteca for a Grade 1 victory in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, Flowers for Lisa pulled off a 16-1 upset with his 1 ½-length triumph in the Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for horses that started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2016.

Claimed for $20,000 by the Flying P Stable at Monmouth Park in July, Flowers for Lisa gave jockey Paco Lopez his third Claiming Crown win on Saturday’s card. The past Championship Meet titlist also scored aboard Blue Bahia in the $110,000 Distaff Dash and the Martini Glass in the $125,000 Tiara.

“I had a little bit of a bad post position, and Navarro told me to do whatever I want. I know we have a bad position, but I know the horse is ready for this race,” Lopez said. “I rushed a little out of the gate, but my horse was very responsive and we won in hand.”

Flowers for Lisa, who finished second in a $32,000 claiming race at Belmont last time out and who has won one of three starts for his new connections, was hustled out of the far-outside post position by Lopez and responded to open a clear lead into the first turn. Flashy Jewel, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, pressed the pace along the backstretch without avail, settling for second at the finish, a head in front of ground-saving Diamond Bachelor.

The winning 4-year-old gelding ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.76 after setting fractions of 23.06 (seconds), 47.06, 1:11.28 and 1:35.67 through the first mile.

“Jorge told me the day he claimed him that this was our Claiming Crown horse. This is a dream for me. The phone hasn’t stopped. I got in this game a long time ago. My father was a jockey years ago, he rode down at Bowie, Timonium, Pimlico, Marlboro, tracks that don’t even exist anymore, some of them,” owner Jason Provenzano said. “I fell in love with horses at a young age but I never thought I’d have the money to own them. I got in a good position in my life and we started claiming horses.”

Gigantic Breeze, the 2-1 favorite who won the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes over Woodbine’s Polytrack surface in his most recent race, was never a factor in his first career start on dirt.