Sent to the lead from the inside post by apprentice Tyler Gaffalione, Southern Barbecue dueled with St. George Stable’s Divine Energy in the early stages of the race, setting fractions of 23.55 seconds for the first quarter and 46.86 seconds for a half-mile. After three-quarters of a mile, Divine Energy retreated, but Southern Barbecue went on, while Carson Spring Farm’s Heart Stopper also joined the fray. While it appeared Heart Stopper might take over the lead, Southern Barbecue had something left, and the colt surged ahead of his rival, striding out in the stretch to a 1 ¼-length victory. The final time was 1:36.05.
Winning trainer Stanley Gold was admittedly surprised at the colt’s strong performance when returning from his extended vacation.
“Coming into the stretch, he was doing everything right. I was just afraid he was going to weaken and get tired,” Gold said. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I was able to do enough with him [coming into the race]. He’s kind of a lazy horse in the morning, and he doesn’t want to train a lot, and he does what you want him to do with resentment. He’s just not really aggressive, so I figured he’d start to get a little tired and say, ‘Well, maybe next time.’ I was waiting for Edgar Prado’s horse (post-time favorite Abounding Legacy, who finished third) to just blow by, but he wanted to win.”
A 3-year-old son of Hear No Evil and the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings, Southern Barbecue had not run since finishing 11th in the Florida Sire Stakes In Reality division last October as a 2-year-old, the colt’s stakes debut. He registered his maiden-breaking victory in his previous race, scoring by a neck in a 6-furlong maiden special weight on August 31 in his fourth career start.
Following a five-race freshman campaign, trainer Stanley Gold sent the chestnut to be turned out in Ocala.
“We gave all the 2-year-olds off after the season was over,” Gold said. “It was just time to give them all a break, see who grows up, see who matures. With this one, it might have worked.”
“He showed last year that he just didn’t really want to be rushed,” he added. “He didn’t want to run too short, and the mile wasn’t the problem. It’s just off a long layoff, running a mile, I wasn’t sure, but he pleasantly surprised me, and he should run better next time.”
Although Southern Barbecue and Jackson Bend share the same parents, Gold said there are few similarities between the two siblings outside of lineage. Jackson Bend earned his two Grade 1 victories in the Forego and Carter stakes, both one-turn 7-furlong contests, but Gold thinks Southern Barbecue will be better going longer.
“I think he would rather go long, and two turns would be it,” Gold said. “Jackson Bend ran well in the Preakness (He finished third in the 1 3/16 mile classic in 2010), but he made his reputation running one turn and finishing strong, so they’re kind of different like that. There are a lot of differences, but hopefully he’s got Jackson’s heart, he’s matured upstairs, and there are good things to come.”
Gold said he has not mapped out a schedule for Southern Barbecue, but if he continues to do well, the colt will likely be pointed toward the Florida Sire Stakes 3-year-old series in Hallandale this summer.
“I haven’t really thought about, but certainly we’re going to run as many as we can to support the program if they show that they belong in there,” Gold said. “They’re all eligible for it, and that’s where they should go if they’re good enough.”
Southern Barbecue, sent off at odds of 17-1, returned $36.00 to win, while Heart Stopper paid $13.60 to place, and Abounding Legacy’s show paid $2.10. Party Crasher, Wild Force, Divine Energy, and Rome Burned completed the order of finish.