The 8-year-old gelded son of Military, who was claimed out of his last start by trainer Jorge Navarro, was sent straight to a clear lead in the mile allowance by jockey Jose Caraballo, and he never looked back, rolling home unchallenged to a 4 ½-length victory over Rontos Racing Stable’s 1-5 favorite.
Jose Lezcano was aboard for Social Inclusion’s comeback race, and he settled the colt in second in the early stages, just clear of the remaining four runners, all tightly grouped, while four lengths behind Big Looie. The bay began to make up ground rounding the far turn and loomed large at the top of the stretch, but the bold move that appeared imminent never materialized. He finished a clear-cut second, 7 ½ lengths ahead of Decisive Moment.
“He felt good. The only thing I think was that the heat maybe got to him a little bit,” Lezcano said. “Other than that he did everything right.”
When it became clear that Social Inclusion would not catch the leader, Lezcano did not push him approaching the wire.
“He just went the same pace. He never really accelerated,” he said. “I just let him finish the race.”
Social Inclusion, who recorded graded-stakes placings in last year’s Wood Memorial (G1) and Woody Stephens (G2) in addition to his third-place Preakness finish, was returning from a nine-month layoff, having not run since last July’s Haskell Invitational, where he placed seventh, the first off-the-board finish of his career. The colt was found to have suffered a tendon injury after the race, which caused him to miss the rest of his sophomore season. Formerly in the care of trainer Manny Azpurua, the son of Pioneerof the Nile was also transferred to the Chad Brown barn.
Social Inclusion was making his first start at Gulfstream since drawing off to an emphatic 10-length victory over the highly regarded Grade 2 winner Honor Code in his second career start last March. The Kentucky-bred also broke his maiden at Gulfstream, doing so by more than 7 lengths in his career debut in February of his 3-year-old season.
Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing Stable, on hand at Gulfstream for his horse’s return, said although he was disappointed with the result, he was happy with how his horse looked and with how he has come back from his injury.
“I was not expecting to lose, but it was his first race,” he said.“He had a 9-month layoff. I’m just happy that he looks wonderful, and Chad Brown did a wonderful job. The most important thing is he’s back and he’s healthy.”
Big Looie paid $17.40 to win; his final time for the mile was 1:35.89. Social Inclusion returned $2.10 to place, while Decisive Moment’s show paid $3.80.