MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Crossed Sabres Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner Lochte took the lead approaching the top of the stretch and drew off to an easy 3 ¾-length victory in the $75,000 Spider John Sunday at Gulfstream Park West.
It was the second consecutive stakes victory under jockey Matt Rispoli for the 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding, upset winner of the 2014 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) who was favored at 3-5 in the field of six.
“It was exceptional. He’s a good horse,” winning trainer Marcus Vitali said. “With this class of horses he’s supposed to be right up in there and run really well. Today it just seemed like he took hold of the wet turf really well. He accelerated when Matt asked him to and he did everything as expected.”
Breaking from the outside, Lochte ($3.20) settled in third as Slim Shadey, racing on the inside, took the field through slow early fractions of 25.92 seconds for a quarter-mile and 52.00 for the half. Racing three wide, Lochte began to move up rounding the far turn and met little resistance in assuming the lead as Slim Shadey began to drop back. Lochte separated from the field down the stretch under a hand ride from Rispoli.
“I told him, ‘Don’t rush him; let him settle in.’ He settled in stride and I told him when he wants to move on his own, then you can encourage him a little bit but don’t encourage him too much,” Vitali said. “[Rispoli] said he was just dragging him there so he kind of moved up a little earlier than I would have liked to see it, but the outcome was a good one. Every win’s a good win.”
The final time for 1 1/8 miles over the turf course was 1:51.74. Morning Calm came on to be second, followed by Hempstead Heath, Good and Proper, Slim Shadey and Zane.
Winner of the Mr. Steele Stakes Sept. 26 at Gulfstream Park in his previous start, Lochte now has eight victories and $695,212 in purse earnings from 31 lifetime starts. He is the second straight Grade 1 winner to take a stakes at Gulfstream Park West, following Kitten’s Dumplings in Saturday’s $75,000 Little Miss Magic.
Vitali hopes Lochte’s victory is a good omen as he heads to Kentucky to saddle Valid in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Oct. 30 at Keeneland Race Course.
“It’s exciting. I’m really excited and looking forward to it,” Vitali said. “Valid is up there and he’s doing excellent. Dr. Cheney went over him today and his groom told me everything is fine. We’re on target. I’ll be flying out Tuesday and let’s hope for the best.”