HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – No match for Ballet Diva last time out, It’s High Time took it to the odds-on favorite at Gulfstream Park Saturday and came away with a 3 ¼-length upset victory in the $200,000 Desert Vixen to kick off the 2015 Florida Sire Stakes season.
The 2-year-old daughter of Gone Astray chased a pacesetting Ballet Diva in vein before finishing eight lengths back in a third-place finish in the 5 ½-furlong Cassidy Stakes on July 5. In the six-furlong Desert Vixen, Tracy Pinchin’s homebred filly got the jump on Ballet Diva, who had won her only two career starts by open lengths under hand rides, and battled her way to victory in the race for 2-year-old fillies sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.
“She ran a good race last time. I thought she should have been second. I guess the six furlongs were better for her,” said Jose Pinchin, who trains It’s High Time for his wife. “She’s a hell of a nice filly. She’s small, but her heart is in the right place. We had good luck in the [Florida Sire Stakes] last year, and when they’re all homebreds, it makes it that much better.”
The Pinchins, who were visiting Georgia Saturday, captured two legs of the 2014 Florida Sire Stakes with Holywell, who captured the Susan’s Girl and the My Dear Girl after finishing sixth in the Desert Vixen.”
It’s High Time ($23.20) and Ballet Diva were out-broken from the gate by Silent Prayer, the 16-1 stablemate of the 1-5 favorite who set the pace along the backstretch. It’s High Time pressed the pace two-wide with Ballet Diva to her outside leaving the backstretch. It’s High Time grabbed a narrow lead under jockey Harry Hernandez on the turn, quickly joined by Ballet Diva and jockey Eddie Castro as Silent Prayer dropped back to third.
Ballet Diva pulled alongside It’s High Time leaving the turn into the homestretch but was unable to keep up with the eventual winner in the stretch. It’s High Time went on to win a clear victory, while Ballet Diva had to settle for third money behind Silent Prayer who fought back to finish second by three-quarters of a length.
It’s High Time, who debuted on May 21 with a 7 ¼-length score, ran six furlongs in 1:12.59.
“It was amazing, I wanted to ride from behind but I stayed forward, as soon as I pulled back she just took off, I just let her because that’s what makes her comfortable. Then I looked back and saw the favorite behind me, kept riding her and thank God it was to victory,” Hernandez said.
Ballet Diva finished three-quarters of a length ahead of fourth-place finisher High End Queen.
"I'm disappointed but these are babies. It happens," trainer Stanley Gold said. "I'm happy we finished second and third. Congratulations to the Pinchins. We will regroup."
“I really don’t have any excuses. She never really kicked in,” said Castro, who replaced regular jockey Jose Caraballo, who is out of action with a foot injury.
It’s High Time earned $120,000 for her second victory in three career starts and first stakes success.
“If everything goes well, we’ll bring her back in the next leg,” Pinchin said.
The second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes for fillies will be held at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 6.