The 7-year-old veteran, who has now finished first or second in 15 straight starts for trainer Stanley Gold, reversed tactics in the 6 ½-furlong Parrot Key. After racing up on the pace in his previous three starts, Grande Shores, piloted for the first time by Eddie Castro, was content to sit in mid-pack early as Acclaimed Racing Stables’ Trev ran off to an uncontested lead, setting fractions of 21.86 seconds for the first quarter and 44.20 seconds for the half.
Turning for home, Trev still maintained the advantage, but Grande Shores and second-choice City of Weston, who out-nodded Grande Shores in the Blue Heron on April 23, were making up ground. Castro angled Grande Shores in to save ground along the rail, and the tenacious Florida-bred ran down Trev in the final strides to score by ¾-length. The final time was 1:16.41.
“He had a lot of ground to make up, but he’s just relentless,” Gold said. “I wasn’t sure, because he was so far back early, because he broke and took himself back. When they turned for home, I knew he had a chance, because I saw him coming up. I said, ‘Well, if he can collar him, he’s relentless.’ And he did.”
“He wore him down,” he added. “Even when you thought, ‘No, he can’t. He just can’t. He’s not going to get through there,’ he just grinds and grinds and grinds, and he got it.”
Grande Shores’ victory returned $3.60 as the 4-5 post-time favorite, while Trev returned $4.60 to place. City of Weston ($2.10) finished another 1 ½ length back in third.
R Free Roll Captures Turf Debut in Tiger Lily Handicap
The 5-year-old R Free Roll had won eight races and bankrolled more than $550,000 heading into Saturday’s $60,000 Tiger Lily Handicap, but she had never before run on grass. The speedy mare proved the surface switch was no problem when she unleashed her trademark speed and scored a wire-to-wire victory over turf sprint specialist Fascinante.
The victory was a special one for jockey Edgard Zayas, as it was the journeyman’s first since returning to the saddle after suffering a broken hand in a spill on April 22. Saturday was his first day riding races in more than six weeks.
“It feels great, really. I feel so excited right now,” Zayas said post-race. “To be back in the saddle, and to win in a stake with this filly that I love so much, it’s just great. Even [trainer Kirk Ziadie] told me before the race, ‘This is going to be your first win!’”
R Free Roll covered the five furlongs of the Tiger Lily in 54.80 seconds and returned $5.00 to win. Fascinante paid $4.40 to place, while the 3-year-old Katie’s Kiss picked up third and paid $5.00 to show.
Huasca Earns First Stakes Score in Tangelo Handicap
In the third of three overnight handicaps on Saturday’s card at Gulfstream, St. George Stable’s Huasca ran down a game Dogwood Trail in deep stretch to earn the first stakes victory of her nine-race career in the $60,000 Tangelo Handicap, a 7-furlong contest for sophomore fillies.
While Fond of Sarah and Dogwood Trail raced in lockstep in the early going, setting fractions of 22.33 seconds for a quarter and 44.84 seconds for a half, Huasca sat off the pace in third. At the top of the stretch, Fond of Sarah gave way as Huasca loomed large, but Dogwood Trail fought on and hooked up in a second duel with the eventual winner, tiring in the final stages. Huasca’s margin of victory was a length; her final time was 1.23:99.
Trained by Efren Loza, Jr., Huasca has never finished off the board when racing at 7 furlongs; her record now stands at 5-2-2-1 at the distance. The filly, who last time out finished second in her graded stakes debut in the Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) on May 15, returned $6.80 to win. Dogwood Trail paid $4.60 to place, while Fond of Sarah held on for the show, returning $3.60.