Main Event Front-Running Winner of $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2)
Edges Kingmax in Local Prep for $1M Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1)
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Harrell Ventures’ Grade 3 winner Main Event, back in stakes company for the first time since the summer, got out to a comfortable lead under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano and had something left to hold off a late run from Kingmax to win Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) by a nose at Gulfstream Park.
The 66th running of 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale for 3-year-olds and up, local prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), anchored an 11-race program featuring five stakes, three graded, worth $725,000 in purses.
It was the first Fort Lauderdale win for trainer George Weaver and fourth for Castellano following Union Place (2005), Silver Medallion (2012) and Mshawish (2015). Main Event ($25) now owns three wins and a second from four tries on the Gulfstream turf, including his first of now three career stakes victories in the 2022 Cutler Bay.
“He is very talented. We’ve always been looking forward to getting back here. He does love this turf course,” Weaver said. “He’s a graded-stakes winner and he’s had plenty of experience.
“His last race at Aqueduct was a big move up speed figure-wise. He’d been running good, just not good enough,” he added. “Last race was kind of a breakthrough and then to get back here on this turf course. We’re glad to be here and glad he ran as well as he did.”
Breaking from Post 4 in a field reduced to nine with the early scratch of Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy, Main Event was hustled to the front by Castellano past Jerry the Nipper to his inside. The first quarter-mile went in 23.84 seconds as 6-5 favorite Running Bee settled in third in the clear three wide and stablemate Stone Age raced between the two in fourth.
“I told Javier to warm him up and put him on the lead,” Weaver said. “I told him he won’t break and put you there, you need to ride him there. He followed instructions and luckily it worked out.”
Main Event went a half-mile in 47.88 seconds as Running Bee took up the chase in second and Stone Age moved up to third as Jerry the Nipper dropped back. Castellano was still in command turning for home when Kingmax began to roll from mid-pack under British jockey David Egan, making his Gulfstream debut.
The two front-runners hooked up in mid-stretch and battled side-by-side to the wire with Main Event winning the head bob after going 1:46.47 over a turf course rated good. Jerry the Nipper finished third, with stablemate Grand Sonata fourth and Stone Age fifth.
“It was pretty straightforward. [Weaver] told me before the race he wanted the horse to be in a forward position if he can; if not, then be close to the pace,” Castellano said. “He broke a step slow but the horse inside me was backing up so I dictate the pace myself. He has a brilliant stride. I like the way he did it.
“I believed I could win by the half-mile pole because he was so relaxed, so comfortable, and when I asked him he just took off,” he added. “When he took off, he was waiting on horses and when he saw the horse on the outside he broke again and got it done.”
Winner of the 2022 Kent (G3) at Delaware Park, Main Event was off for nearly a year before coming back in July at Saratoga. He ran fifth in three straight optional claiming allowances in New York before a head victory in the same condition going 1 1/16 miles Nov. 3.
Weaver, who captured the Queen Mary (G2) this summer at Royal Ascot with Gulfstream stakes winner Crimson Advocate, said Main Event would be pointed to the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus Turf, part of a blockbuster Jan. 27 program that includes the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) on dirt and $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G2).
“I would try it, why not? He loves this turf course,” Weaver said. “What else are you going to do. He’s out of conditions. You have to try stuff, you know?”