HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Crossed Sabres Farm’s Valid gamely put away an onslaught of closers to win the $75,000 Groomstick Stakes Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s a warrior,” winning trainer Marcus Vitali said. “He’s been really good for me and Crossed Sabres, and I’m grateful to Crossed Sabres to be able to train these kind of horses.”
In crossing the wire a neck in front of Falling Sky while covering seven furlongs in 1:22.87, the 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro notched his second straight victory and second overall at Gulfstream Park, having captured the Philip Iselin (G3) at Monmouth Park in his last start and the Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) in February.
Vitali, who contemplated sending Valid to the 2014 Breeders’ Cup after the gelding won the Eight Miles West Stakes last October at Gulfstream Park West, says he is considering racing’s Championship Weekend again for his charge. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile remains a possibility.
“We’re talking about it,” Vitali said.“It’s a conversation that Ms. (Carolyn) Vogel (of Crossed Sabres Farm) and I will have. We’ll see how he comes out of this and put him back in training, and we’ll make a decision.”
The dark bay was allowed to settle into stride and wasn’t hustled out of the gate by jockey Matthew Rispoli. But after Julian De Mora’s Ledokol went to the front and took the field through a 22.76-second first quarter, Rispoli guided Valid through an opening along the rail and seized the lead from that rival. After the half went in 45.18 seconds, Valid appeared to be going comfortably, and as the field turned for home, the gelding was in command, but others were beginning to launch their own bids. Jacks or Better Farm’s Grande Shores made up ground along the rail before angling out for a run, Falling Sky came relentlessly from second, and Ledokol re-rallied on the outside. But Valid would never relinquish his top position.
The win marked back-to-back victories for the team of Vitali and Rispoli, as the duo also took the ninth race with the front-running Palace Gate ($16.20). Rispoli also won the eighth on the Tamara Levy-trained Mito Y Leyendas ($5.20).
“He’s a big strong horse,” Rispoli said of Valid. “I could just have easily been on the lead, but I took a hold of him. I knew I had to move around the turn or I’d get shut off. Once he makes the lead, he gives you all he has. This horse is all heart. He gives you all he’s got.”
“I told Matt to just let him run his own race today,” Vitali said. “It’s a different style going seven-eights of a mile and I didn’t want him to gun to the lead, but if he wanted to take you to the lead, so it’d be. That’s what he seemed to do. He fought off everybody coming after him, and he’s a warrior.”
Valid returned $3.60 for his victory, while Falling Sky paid $3.40 to place, and Grande Shores paid $2.60 to show. Ledokol, Casiguapo, Rough Passage and Bluegrass Luck completed the order of finish.