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Reveron Takes Inaugural Gulfstream Park Derby
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Agustin Bezara capped off a career afternoon on the New Year’s Day program when he saddled Reveron for a half-length victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.
Reveron, the first stakes success and third winner of the day for his trainer, pressed the early pace before taking and desperately holding on to a narrow lead to the finish of the country’s first derby of the New Year.
“We think this he is the best 3-year-old in Florida right now,” said Bezara through a translator. “This is my first stakes win in the U.S. and the biggest day I’ve had since I came here two years ago.”
Bezara, a former training champion in his native Venezuela, currently trains five horses at nearby Calder, and three of them won Sunday, including third-race winner Mommy’s Image ($14.40) and Sweetlandofliberty ($9.40).
Reveron, who had won his two most recent starts at Calder, closely attended the pace set by 29-1 outsider Nachas and Joy on the first turn and along the backstretch in the first running of the stakes that attracted 11 newly turned 3-year-olds. Jockey Fernando Jara sent the son of Songandaprayer to the lead on the far turn and was quickly challenged by Casual Trick, who had been stalking the pace on the outside under jockey John Velazquez.
Sent to post at 8.50-1, Reveron was under pressure from the Nick Zito-trained rival through the stretch run to narrowly prevail at the wire, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.74.
“I had to ask him a little bit in the first part of the race because the first turn comes up so fast,” Jara said. “After that we were in good position and my horse really performed well. He dug in and wouldn’t let the other horse by.”
Casual Trick, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his second career and most recent start, finished 5 ½ lengths clear of King Kid, who raced along the inside behind the pacesetter into the stretch under Corey Lanerie.
“He ran very hard but he was fighting me a little bit to pass that horse in the stretch. The winner was more experienced than mine and my horse was still a little green today. He just broke his maiden and was going two turns for the first time,” said Velazquez of Casual Trick’s runner-up finish. “I think he’s still learning. He actually handled the two turns really well. If he continues to mature and get better, I think he’s going to be very good.”
Nachas and Joy and jockey Rajiv Maragh faded to fourth, another 3-1/2 lengths back. Ancient Rome, a lukewarm 3-1 favorite, was never a factor during a 10th-place finish.
Reveron, who was purchased for $20,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Sale, earned $60,000 for his third victory in five starts for owner Walter Stipa, who was in Venezuela on Sunday.
Bezara said plans for his Gulfstream Park Derby winner are indefinite.
“We’ll see how he comes out of it. He goes the (two-turn) distance,” Bezara said.. “We’ll consider the options.”
Next on Gulfstream Park’s stakes program for 3-year-olds is the $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) on Jan. 29.