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Summer Front Overtakes Rivals in Dania Beach Stakes
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ramon Dominguez was obviously confident in Summer Front’s ability when the Eclipse Award-winning rider decided to make the New York-to-California-to-South Florida weekend journey to ride the 2-year-old colt the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes.
Dominguez left Gulfstream Park Sunday even more impressed with the Christophe Clement-trained colt after scoring a 1 ½ -length victory under less-than-ideal conditions. Despite stumbling at the start and forced to race wide in traffic into the stretch, Summer Front kicked in strongly in the stretch to motor past 8-5 favorite Finale and post his third victory without a loss in the mile turf event.
“He stumbled pretty badly coming out of the gate, and from there I just wanted to make sure I got him to settle in behind horses,” said Dominguez, who currently leads all jockeys with $19.8 million in purses won this year. “The plan was to follow Finale around there, thinking me and him were the two best horses in the race. I was able to get him into the clear around the far turn and from there he kicked it in really well. He’s just a nice horse.”
Summer Front, who broke his maiden at Belmont in September and won a minor stakes at Aqueduct last month, recovered quickly from the early stumble, only to be fanned wide between horses on the first turn. As Csaba set the pace, stalked by 5-2 second choice and Finale to his far outside, Summer Front was never too far back but lacked room between horses along the backstretch and on the far turn. Dominguez found room leaving the turn into the stretch, and the son of War Front responded with a strong run to out-kick Finale to the wire.
Summer Front, the 4-1 third choice owned by Thomas Moore, ran a mile in 1:35.57. Finale, who was forced to race wide throughout under jockey John Velazquez, held second, a neck in front of Excaper and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson.
“It’s not easy to win a mile race here (on turf) with a wide trip. Now he’s three-for-three,” Clement said. “We’ve had success for Mr. Moore before with In Summation and we look forward to next year with this one.”
Clement is leaving his options open for the $475,000 purchase at Keeneland’s 2-year-olds-in-training sale last April.
“We didn’t try him on dirt this year, but maybe next year,” Clement said.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Finale had previously suffered his first loss in four starts on turf in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after enduring a disastrous trip.
“He ran a great race today; he was just beat by a better horse,” Velazquez said. “We were three-wide today but it was not that bad. It was nothing like in the Breeders’ Cup. That was wide.”