HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Kathy Machesky’s Dream of Me made the jump from maiden winner to stakes winner Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the son of High Cotton staged an inside stretch rally to capture the $200,000 Dr. Fager by 2 ¼ lengths.
The Dr. Fager and the $200,000 Desert Vixen kicked off the 2015 Florida Sire Stakes season on a 12-race program that included five other stakes races.
Trained by Anna Varsi, Dream of Me was making his stakes debut and his first start on a fast track in the six-furlong event for 2-year-old colts and geldings sired by stallions standing in Florida. The gray colt came into the Dr. Fager off a pair of outings over sloppy tracks, including a fourth-place finish in his debut and a front-running maiden victory over a sloppy track last time out.
Dream of Me ($16.60) broke alertly again under Eduardo Nunez to press the pace set by Mr. Kisses, a 35-1 long shot ridden by Manoel Cruz, along the backstretch and around the turn. Leaving the turn into the homestretch, Mr. Kisses maintained a short lead, as Li’l Meatball made a three-wide move to challenge. Dream of Me dropped back briefly before being steered to the inside by jockey Eduardo Nunez. The Florida-bred colt kicked in with a strong rally to claim the $120,000 winner’s share of the purse.
“He's classy. When they have that kind of class, they'll just keep going at it. There's no telling how far he can go,” Varsi said. “We're going to try and sweep [the series].”The Dr. Fager is the first of three Florida Sire Stakes races for 2-year-old males, followed by the $300,000 Affirmed at seven furlongs on Sept. 5 and the $500,000 In Reality at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 3.
Dream of Me ran six furlongs in 1:12.11.
“I had a good trip. My horse had good speed. I let him run the way he likes to run and then I let him go,” said Nunez.
Mr. Kisses held gamely to finish second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of a late-charging Brighton Lane and jockey Eddie Castro. Li’l Meatball, the 9-5 favorite who took a brief lead at the top of the stretch under Miguel Vasquez, finished fourth, another three-quarters of a length back.
The racing surface was fast but Varsi wasn’t upset when a brief shower came through Gulfstream in mid-afternoon.
“I was really happy that there was a little bit of moisture in the surface. That was important to us,” Varsi said. “It's not sloppy, but at least there was enough moisture to help us out, not that I think the horse couldn't do anything. He's classy.”