By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Don Cavallo held gamely through the homestretch to capture the featured eighth race Wednesday at Gulfstream Park, but the winning move actually came in the front-stretch.
In a nine-horse field that appeared to lack early speed, jockey Javier Castellano sent Don Cavallo to the lead at the start of the $57,000 turf allowance. Able to relax on an uncontested lead, the 4-year-old son of El Prado had plenty of energy in reserve when challenged by 9-5 favorite Guys Reward leaving the turn into the homestretch. When set down for the drive, the Stronach Stables’ colt gamely continued to show the way to the finish line.
Don Cavallo ($13.20) finished three-quarters of a length ahead of late-charging Doubles Partner and jockey Julien Leparoux while completing 1-1/16 miles in 1:40 2/5. Guys Reward, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, finished third, a neck behind Doubles Partner and a nose in front of Mystic.
Don Cavallo, who went winless in four starts on conventional dirt tracks to start off his career, has captured four of his last five starts, all coming on either synthetic or turf courses. The Kentucky-bred colt earned $27,000 for his winning 2011 debut.
Jockeying for Position
Julien Leparoux rode two winners on Wednesday’s card – Torcello ($4.20) in the third and By Spot ($7.60) in the seventh – to close within five victories of leading rider Paco Lopez, who has scored aboard 24 mounts.
Veteran Alex Solis also rode two winners – Blue Sky Girl ($6.20) in the fifth and Dracup ($49.40) in the ninth – to enter into a three-way tie for third in the standings (14 wins) with Rajiv Maragh and Castellano, each of whom had a win Wednesday .
Victor Lebron, who entered the day just five victories short of 1000 trips to the winner’s circle, inched closer to his career milestone with a front-running score aboard Peach Bottom ($11.80) in the second race. It was Lebron’s first winner of the meeting, coming on his 32nd mount.