HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Following the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes, the first of three races in the filly division of the $1.4 million Florida Sire Stakes (FSS), trainer Stanley Gold expressed mixed emotions.
His filly Standard Deal faded in the final stages of the six-furlong race to be second, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, after getting into a speed duel with Stonestreet Stables’ Katie’s Kiss in the early going. However, his other filly, Leap Year Luck, was the one that ran by her to cross the wire first in the first Florida Sire Stakes race held at Gulfstream Park.
“I thought she’d finish a little bit stronger than she did,” Gold said of Standard Deal. “But I was first and second, and I would have been second and first. I’m not going to complain about that.”
Ridden by Jesus Rios, Leap Year Luck, considered the “other Gold horse” and an outsider in the betting, outran both her odds and her stablemate in the Desert Vixen, which was her first career victory. The 2-year-old daughter of Hear No Evil and Lucky of Course, by Awesome of Course, had yet to break her maiden before making her stakes debut. She finished fifth, beaten 22 lengths, in her first race on May 16 before being beaten by a neck in her second start on July 19.
“Her last race, she showed that she might belong,” Gold said. “She moved up big when we increased the distance and put blinkers on, and she ran consistent. She didn’t disappoint us.”
A quick pace set Leap Year Luck for victory after the filly was 6 ½ lengths back in the race’s early stages. Standard Deal and Katie’s Kiss set fractions of :22.09 for the first quarter and ran the first half-mile in :45.15 seconds, a pace neither filly could sustain. As the two leaders faded in the stretch, it opened the door for Leap Year Luck to close from five-wide and run unchallenged to the finish in the final sixteenth. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:11.74.
“I thought [Standard Deal] was going to maintain it, but she probably weakened a bit going with the other horse (Katie’s Kiss), and that’s why the other horse wasn’t there either,” Gold said. “They were cutting it out together and didn’t get a breather. I was afraid the winner was too far back if the other one got tired battling with the other horse. As it turned out, [Leap Year Luck] wasn’t too far back, and [Standard Deal] hung on (for second).”
“She was going easy, and at the three-eighths pole, she really kicked in,” Rios added. “The pace set up really good for her.”
One can never overlook Gold and breeder/owner Jacks or Better Farm. The Desert Vixen was the team’s 13th Florida Sire Stakes victory, a total unmatched by any other owner/trainer combination. Gold is also one-win shy of Frank Gomez’s all-time FSS record for wins as a trainer (14).
“Frank Gomez was a great trainer, and he’s on top,” Gold said. “Chasing him and getting close is nice.”
Leap Year Luck paid $28.80 to win. Standard Deal’s payout to place was $5.40, while a show bet on Katie’s Kiss paid $3.40. Miss Amalita, the post-time favorite, didn’t fire and finished fifth.