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Miss Blakely Game In South Beach Victory
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A steady early afternoon rainfall forced Gulfstream Park officials to switch seven of the eight turf races scheduled for Saturday’s 12-race program to the main track. Only the featured $60,000 South Beach Stakes was left on the yielding turf course, and trainer Joe Orseno couldn’t have been happier.
Confident in Miss Blakely’s ability on less-than-firm turf, Orseno was rewarded with a trip to the winner’s circle by his 5-year-old mare in the 7 ½-furlong stakes for fillies and mares.
“She loves this turf course and likes the yielding (ground), so I was hoping they would leave it on. It looked like it (course) was fine,” Orseno said. “I would have run if they took it off. She’s so versatile, although she’s never run on a sloppy track.”
Miss Blakely ($8.80) gained an outside stalking position into the first turn and along the backstretch, as Carem Crescent set the pace under Manny Cruz and led the nine-horse field into the stretch. Lopez set Miss Blakely down for the drive at the top of the stretch, but didn’t get an immediate response from the 5-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, as Carem Crescent fought back along the rail and Bet On the Blue edged a nose in front of her on the outside. Miss Blakely responded to vigorous urging from her jockey to fight her way to victory, a head in front of Bet On the Blue, who prevailed over Carem Crescent by a neck for second money.
“We had a good trip. In the stretch we were in tight a little bit but my horse ran hard,” Lopez said. “She was very tough today.”
Miss Blakely ran 7 ½ furlongs in 1:32 to collect her seventh career victory. The Ontario-bred mare had previously finished sixth after attending the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5.
“I had her entered in the one-mile stakes earlier in the meet, but she drew the 13 post and I scratched. I wish I hadn’t because she ran a good race in the Suwannee River going a mile-and-an-eighth and just got a little late,” Orseno said. “She’s by Smart Strike, runs on turf and synthetic tracks, and is Canadian-bred, so there are plenty of options for her as the season goes on.”