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Doubles Partner Aces Canadian Turf at Gulfstream
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – When favored Little Mike was prompted to set a quick early pace by longshot Trend in Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), it proved to be game, set match for stretch-running Doubles Partner.
The early pressure that turned out to be the undoing of favored Little Mike was a turn of good fortune for Doubles Partner, who was able to reserve his energy with a ground-saving trip under Julien Leparoux before launching an impressive stretch bid in the mile turf event.
“We anticipated Little Mike would go to the lead. There didn’t appear to be much speed, but there was a little more than we anticipated,” said Trainer Todd Pletcher in New York by phone. “But when (Doubles Partner) kicked in and got clear he finished strong.”
Making his first start since finishing a close third in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs last May, Doubles Partner saved ground around the first turn and along the backstretch as Little Mike set fractions of :23.98 and :47:02 for the first half-mile after being challenged by Trend out of the gate for pacesetting honors and stalked by that rival along the backstretch.
Little Mike, who had won five of his last six races in front-running fashion, held the lead into the stretch, but the early pressure began to take its toll on the gritty 5-year-old gelding, who was overtaken approaching mid-stretch by Trend.
“He’s earned everyones respect. The 3/8ths pole came and they all came after him,” said the even-money favorite’s jockey Joe Bravo. “He’s still a great horse in my eyes.”
Trend, a 29-1 longshot making his stakes debut under Paco Lopez, was quickly challenged by Doubles Partner, who was swung out for the stretch drive coming off the final turn. Trend fought on gamely but was unable to hold off the Todd Pletcher-trained 5-year-old by three-quarters of a length.
“It was a perfect trip. We were right in behind the speed. He settled nice and it was a clean trip, which made things pretty easy,” Leparoux said of the 7-2 third betting choice. “I was able to move out whenever I wanted and when I asked him he came running.”
Trend finished another three-quarters of a length ahead of Data Link, who edged Little Mike by a head for third under jockey Alex Solis. Doubles Partner, who earned $90,000 for WinStar Farm, ran the mile in 1:32.56.
“The horse ran super off the layoff. The guys at WinStar did a super job. He really worked well on Monday and came into this race in good shape,” Pletcher said.
Doubles Partner, who has won five of eight starts on turf, is likely to return to action at Keeneland in the Maker’s Mark (G1) on April 13 or the Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 5.