Little Jewel Sparkles in $100,000 Captiva Island
Mott-Trained Empirestrikesfast Wins Debut at 23-1
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $200,000
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Michael Vaccarezza’s Little Jewel, a 5-year-old little sister to multi-millionaire Little Mike, added to the family’s legacy by finding an opening along the rail in mid-stretch and surging to her first stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Captiva Island at Gulfstream Park.
The Captiva Island, a five-furlong turf sprint for older fillies, was the second of two stakes on the 12-race program, following Frank’s Rockette’s popular triumph in the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3).
Charlie T, exiting seconds in back-to-back stakes, including the Feb. 11 Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream, broke sharply and took the early initiative, going the opening quarter of a mile in 22.04 seconds, pressed by 7-5 favorite Train to Artemus, a winner of three straight seeking her second stakes victory in a row.
Jockey Jose Morelos was content to settle Little Jewel in sixth, waited patiently for a spot through a half-mile in 44.83, found it after rounding the far turn and zipped past Charlie T once straightened for home, outrunning Train to Artemus to the wire by 1 ¼ lengths. Charlie T held on for third, with Mamba Wamba fourth and 70-1 long shot Jumeirah fifth.
“She’s a special filly,” said Reynaldo Abreu, assistant to trainer Carlo Vaccarezza. “It took her time to run, but it paid off. She’s a very nice filly.”
By Liam’s Map out of the Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude, Little Jewel made her debut in June 2020 at Churchill Downs, running third to subsequent multiple-stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Toby’s Heart in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight on the grass.
Little Jewel didn’t run again for more than 2 ½ years, returning to be second behind next out winner Frozen Solid going five furlongs Jan. 6. She tuned up for her stakes debut with a 4 ½-length maiden victory Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, where Little Mike won six of nine career starts, five of them in stakes, including the 2011 Fort Lauderdale (G3), Canadian Turf (G3) and Appleton (G3).
Little Mike would go on to win 14 races and $3,543,392 in purses from 30 starts topped by the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and Arlington Million (G1) in 2012.
“She’s very gutsy little girl,” Abreu said. “She has a lot of heart, just like her brother.”
Mott-Trained Empirestrikesfast Wins Debut at 23-1
Pin Oak Stud LLC’s Empirestrikesfast fought back in the stretch to prevail over heavily favored Dreamlike, graduating at first asking Saturday at Gulfstream Park for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who would saddle Frank’s Rockette for an easy triumph in the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3) later in the day.
The 3-year-old son of Empire Maker stalked the pace before taking over the lead on the turn into the homestretch, only to be headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained favorite turning for home. Under strong urging from jockey Miguel Vasquez, Empirestrikesfast re-rallied along the rail to register a game victory by three-quarters of a mile while negotiating two turns in the Race 5 maiden special weight race.
Sent to post at 23-1, Empirestrikesfast surprised a lot of bettors while providing a pleasant surprise for Mott.
“You never know how they’re going to run first time. Some of his last works have been pretty good. He’s shown a little grit,” Mott said. “But that is a big price. He’s bred for stamina being by Empire Maker.”
Empirestrikesfast ($49.80) made his debut as a gelding.
“We had some bad habits to straighten out,” Mott said. “He took a lot longer to get ready.”
Michael Ryan’s Violet Gibson ($12.40) also graduated at first asking with a late surge nearing the wire under Leonel Reyes in Race 7, a 7 ½-furlong maiden special weight event on turf in Race 7. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Irish-bred filly by Expert Eye caught Christophe Clement-trained Le Beau by a head.
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $200,000
Gulfstream Park’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved Saturday for fourth racing day following last Sunday’s mandatory payout, which yielded multiple payoffs of $40, 357 from a total pool of $6 million-plus.
The popular multi-race wager’s gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $200,000 for Sunday’s program.
A high-quality Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 5-10, featuring two maiden special weight races and four optional claiming allowances.
The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
Who’s Hot: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott saddled a pair of winners, Empirestrikesfast ($49.80) in Race 5 and Frank’s Rockette ($2.80) in Race 8, the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3).
Junior Alvarado Frank’s Rockette to victory after scoring aboard Kingfish Stevens ($13) in Race 1.
Miguel Vasquez doubled aboard Empirestrikesfast before winning aboard Starship Enterprise ($7.20) in Race 10.
Jose Ortiz tripled, scoring aboard Canadiansweetheart ($3.80) in Race 2, Heals the Soul ($7.20) in Race 6, and Far Bridge ($3) in Race 9.