HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The only uneasy moment Edgard Zayas had aboard Mr. Baker Saturday was before the $75,000 Housebuster Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Aware that speed horses hadn’t fared all that well in the previous nine races, the 21-year-old rising riding star was a bit concerned that his fleet-footed mount in the 6 ½-furlong stakes might be at a disadvantage, especially while breaking from the rail post position.
Zayas needn’t have worried.
Mr. Baker quickly assumed an early lead as expected, but when he might have been expected by some handicappers to shorten stride, the 6-5 favorite sprinted clear of his opposition to post a dominating 3 ¼-length victory.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that easy,” said Zayas, admitting to pre-race concern about the fate of frontrunners earlier in the program.
The Kirk Ziadie-trained 5-year-old ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.63. Grande Shores closed along the rail to finish second under Abdiel Jaen, a length ahead of Bahamian Squall, the second betting choice who had chased the winner during the early stages of the race under Ramsey Zimmerman.
Mr. Baker’s triumph was his fourth straight success since being claimed for $16,000 by the Acclaimed Racing Stable at Gulfstream on Feb. 23. After breaking the Calder track record for 5 ½ furlongs (1:04) on April 4, The son of Imperialism won a seven-furlong starter allowance at Gulfstream on May 3 and the six-furlong Ponche Stakes at Calder on May 31.
“When he broke the track record at Calder, I know it was against a different kind of horse, not the same kind as these, but when he gets to the lead, his heart gets bigger,” Zayas said.