HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens came to Gulfstream Park both to ride Mucho Macho Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic and to attend the Eclipse Awards dinner, and wound up completing his Florida excursion by riding favored Gala Award to victory in Monday’s eighth race.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Gala Award was a close second in his debut at Gulfstream on December 7. The $1.55-million yearling purchase was sent off as the even-money choice by the holiday crowd. He was fractious in the gate and raced in second in the early stages. The big bay colt was headed by Loves Last Chance and Dylan Ward in the stretch, but dug in on the rail and hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front of Dylan Ward.
“We weren’t sure how long we’d be staying in town, but Todd got in touch with my agent (Craig O’Bryan) and asked if I’d ride this colt,” Stevens explained. “It looked like he’d be forwardly placed like he was first time out. He got mad, though, going into the gate and didn’t want to load. They had to get after him a bit and he rebelled, like most good kids do.”
Stevens admitted to being a bit nervous in the final furlong.
“I knew I had more horse, but he wasn’t giving it to me, and that’s kind of what he did the first time that he ran,” Stevens said. “I watched that replay and it looked like he didn’t really want to go by that horse in the lane. I put Corey (Lanerie, on Boss Man Mike) away on the turn and came into the lane on a nice lead. I asked him and again he kind of rebelled, but when Joel (Rosario, on Dylan Ward) ran past me, he figured it out and went on about his business.”
Gala Award is owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier. His siblings include Grade 1 winner Stormello and Grade 2 winner My Best Brother.
Jockeys Escape Serious Injury
In the ninth race, Raised for Speed fell suddenly while clear of the field and threw rider Abdiel Jaen. Vero’s Hero was unable to avoid him and lost rider Edgard Zayas. Both Jaen and Zayas walked back to the jockeys’ room. Vero’s Hero did not appear to sustain any injuries, while Raised for Speed was vanned back to the barn area for further evaluation.
Riders Joel Rosario and Luis Saez escaped serious injury in a spill in the 10th race, while jockey Matthew Rispoli was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. Rispoli’s mount Suzzona clipped heels and fell on the turn, causing Cameo Lady and Saez to fall as well. Rosario was aboard Unseen Visitor. Unseen Visitor and Suzzona were both on their feet after the incident. Cameo Lola was vanned back to the barn area.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $130,629.48
Super Hi 5 Carryover: $3,245.03