Florida Sunshine Millions recap on Distaff, Turf and Filly & Mare Turf
‘Song’ Makes Successful Exit in Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff
Successful Song captured the largest purse of her very productive 27-race career Saturday at Gulfstream Park, winning the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff by 3 ¼ lengths. The 6-year-old mare’s biggest payday most likely came in her final race.
“She did what she needed to do. She’s getting good, and I guess she’s getting ready to start her new career,” said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. noting that the daughter of Successful Appeal is scheduled to be taken out of training and be bred by Live Oak Plantation. “This easily could have been (her last start), that was the plan unless they change their minds. We’ll see what happens.”
Successful Song, who won the $100,000 Ocala Stakes at Gulfstream in her previous start, saved ground under jockey Joel Rosario throughout the running of the 1 1/8-mile stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares. After tracking Delray Lady around the first turn and along the backstretch, Rosario slipped the 6-5 favorite inside the longshot pacesetter to grab the lead entering the far turn. The multiple stakes-winning mare opened up a clear lead on the turn into the homestretch and was never seriously challenged to the finish line.
“With Joel, he’s as good as there is. You have to have full confidence in him. That’s a big plus,” Plesa said. “I liked where he was sitting and everything he did.”
Successful Song ($4.40), who boosted her career earnings to $597,538 with the $180,000 winner’s share of the purse, ran 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy track in 1:52.28.
“She broke well and there wasn't much speed early on in the race, where my horse likes to run close to the pace,” Rosario said. “I made a move at the 1/2 mile pole because they weren't going too quick in front. She was the best today, I'm glad we won."
Speak Easy Gal, who is scheduled to be sold at auction next month and also likely raced for the last time, finished second under jockey Luis Saez. My Pal Chrisy, who was ridden by Luca Panici, finished third.
Whether her connections change their minds about retiring her, Successful Song will be turned out.
“Every year that we’ve had her since she was 2, we’ve sent her to the farm. Under normal circumstances, she’d be at the farm right now, resting for about 45 days,” Plesa said. “Again, the plans are to breed her, but no matter what, she’d be leaving after this race to go to the farm for one reason or another.”
Teaks North Back in Gulfstream Winner’s Circle
Resolute Group Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Teaks North scored the first major victory of his career in the 2011 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) with a 25-to-1 upset and was back in the Gulfstream winner’s circle Saturday after posting a wire-to-wire upset at 9-to-1 in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf.
The victory was an emotional one for the connections as trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr. began serving his highly-publicized suspension this week and his longtime top assistant Michelle Nevin took over as trainer of the division of Dutrow’s horses currently campaigning at Gulfstream.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s been a tough week,” said Nevin. “I’m very happy for this horse. It’s been a long road back (layoff). When they get older they usually need a race to shake the cobwebs off and he did (10th in El Prado on Dec. 22).”
Jockey John Velazquez let Teaks North take command and appeared plenty relaxed on the lead early in the 1 1/8 miles turf test and able to set rather slow fractions with three-quarters in 1:16:76, He coasted to the finish in the clear by 2 ½ lengths over WinStar Farms’ 1-to-2 favorite Double Partner. Shivmangal Racing Stable’s Shkspeare Shalaiyah finished another 2 ¼ lengths back in third in the field of eight Florida-breds.
"We wanted to be close to the lead and everyone began slowing down in front,” said Velazquez. “It was perfect. I couldn't ask for a better trip. They let me go slow and I took it."
Jockey Javier Catellano aboard Doubles Partner said, "We had bad luck out of the gate. Usually he breaks great, although today he hesitated after we broke and wasn't as sharp. Unfortunately the pace was slow, we ended up too far back and it was too hard to catch up. Teaks North and John Velazquez went to the lead wire to wire and we lost the race out of the gate."
Teaks North is a son of Northern Afleet that was purchased by his current connections privately after beginning his career at Calder. He was trained by Justin Sallusto when he won the Gulfstream Turf Handicap and the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park that summer. He continued to race for Sallusto through an eighth-place finish in Sunshine Millions Turf here last winter.
Teaks North was later transferred to Dutrow for whom he ran in the El Prado. He paid $$19.80 For $2 to win and was timed the nine furlongs on ‘yielding’ ground in 1:52:89 The victory was his eighth from 23 career start but first since the United Nations on July 2, 2011 and extended his bankroll to nearly $1.1 million.
Regalo Mia Rallies to Filly & Mare Turf Victory
Steven Ciccarone’s 4-year-old filly Regalo Mia rated comfortably off the pace down the backstretch under jockey Luis Saez in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park, circled the leaders nearing the stretch and drove to a three-quarters of a length victory over Mark Hoffman and partners’ Hooh Why.
Frank Calabrese’s 7-year-old Romacaca was sent off the 4-to-5 favorite in the field of six Florida-bred fillies and mares and took command early in the 1 1/8 miles turf test run on ‘yielding’ ground. Romacaca set the pace to the upper stretch when joined by Hooh Why and the winner, but had to settle for third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up.
Trained by Michelle Nihei, Regalo Mia was making her first start since a dull ninth-place finish in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17, the first time she missed the board in eight career starts. The daughter of Sligo Bay lost several tough decisions last year when second to Dayatthespa in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) here and the Sands Point Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.
“There was never any question that we had a good filly since she came to us as a 2-year-old,” said Nihei. “In her only bad race in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill it just wasn’t her day. The race was at night in the freezing cold, raining and the ground was slippery on top. Other than that she has run her race every time.
“We do have to allow for her size (small) in her training, but she more than makes up for it. I’ve always thought she would like a distance and a three-turn race is the obvious next step.”
Regalo Mia paid $7.20 for $2 to win as the second choice and was timed the distance in 1:52:39 with only her second win with three seconds and three thirds in nine career starts.