Star Harbour Claims Victory in Sunday's Sunshine State
By Star Harbour Claims Victory in Sunday's Sunshine State
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – One day after a banner renewal of Saturday’s $1 million Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park, Star Harbour generated yet another claiming success story while capturing the $100,000 Sunshine State Stakes.
Claimed for $35,000 by trainer Bobby Dibona at Saratoga on Aug. 29, Star Harbour made a huge return on Marco Thoroughbred Corp.’s investment Sunday after posting a half-length victory in the seven-furlong sprint for Florida-bred horses.
“It’s very exciting to claim a horse and to be able to run at this kind of level. You can pay a million dollars and not get a horse like this,” said Dibona of the 5-year-old son of Indian Charlie, who earned a $60,000 winner’s purse. “He’s happy; he likes it here; he’s fast; they’re going to have to deal with him.”
Star Harbour shook off an early challenge for pacesetting honors to open a clear lead under Paco Lopez leaving the backstretch and around the turn. The 8-5 favorite had opened up a two-length lead in mid-stretch when multiple Grade 1 stakes-winning Jackson Bend loomed on the outside under urging from Javier Castellano. The Stanley Gold-trained millionaire steadily cut into the lead but was unable to catch Star Harbor.
Jackson Bend, the 3-1 third choice, finished second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Bahamian Squall, the 2-1 second choice who raced evenly under Joe Bravo. Bahamian Squall was the defending champion in the Sunshine State, in which Star Harbour, then trained by Bill Mott, finished a troubled fifth last year.
Star Harbour ran seven furlongs Sunday in 1:21.55 on swift fractions of :22.36, :44.76 and 1:08.60.
“My horse felt good. The first quarter went in 22 (seconds) and the second was a little fast I know, but my horse was going easy. I was looking for (Bahamian Squall) but when I turned for home there wasn’t anybody there,” Lopez said. “They were coming a little bit late, but it’s OK.”
Star Harbour, who finished third in the $100,000 Duck Dance Stakes at Belmont in his first start for his new connections, prepped for the Sunshine State with a bullet five-furlong workout in 58 1/5 seconds on Nov. 30.
“He’s flourished here. Sometimes, he had a quiet, lackluster attitude, but when he got here, he picked his head up and showed it in his workout,” Dibona said.
Star Harbour will be pointed to the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18.