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Fighting Force Finally Gets Some Luck in Not Surprising

Jun 26, 2021
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL –Since being purchased privately last winter, Lea Farm LLC’s Fighting Force had been blanked in three starts while racing under less-than-ideal circumstances. The son of Air Force Blue was due for some racing luck Saturday, and, boy, did he get it on his way to capturing the $75,000 Not Surprising at Gulfstream Park.

Fighting Force ($14.60) received a dream trip in the mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, benefiting from an extended speed duel between the favorites before surging to the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing clear by 3 ½ lengths under Samy Camacho.

“It was three races without a good trip. Samy said he was going to be patient and wait, wait, wait. It just worked out perfectly for us. We had a lot of speed in front of us and he got a good trip and the horse kicked on for him,” trainer Jeff Engler said. “It’s nice when you dial it up and it actually happens.”

Fighting Force broke alertly from his No. 1 post to obtain a prime stalking position behind Bright Devil, the Mark Casse-trained 5-2 second choice ridden by Edwin Gonzalez, and King of Dreams, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, as a speed duel quickly developed and continued along the backstretch and into the far turn. After sitting off fractions of 23.28 and 47.50 seconds for the first half mile, Fighting Force was angled off the rail on the turn into the homestretch before making a three-wide sweep around the tiring pacesetters on his way to a dominating victory.

The Engler trainee ran a mile over a ‘good’ turf in 1:38.18. Perfect Silent Cat, the 23-1 longest shot on the board ridden by Wilmer Garcia, rallied from last in the six-horse field to finish second. Bright Devil held third, four lengths behind the runner-up. King of Dreams faded to fifth.

Fighting Force, formerly trained by Todd Pletcher, broke his maiden in December at Gulfstream, finished second in the Dania Beach and checked in a close fourth in the Palm Beach for the principals of Coolmore before being privately purchased by Lea Farm. The Kentucky-bred colt finished off the board in the Cutler Bay after bumping at the start in his first race for his new connections. He went on to finish fourth following an extremely wide trip in the English Channel prior to finishing fourth in an optional claiming allowance, in which he sat off a slow pace and was unable to show the kick that powered him to victory Saturday.

“He’s a nice horse. He does everything right. He trains good and eats good. He likes what he does,” Engler said. “Honestly, those last three races, if you go back and watch them, were just awful trips. He got stuck on the rail or just got behind horses and couldn’t go anywhere. We always knew it was there. He just needed a trip and luckily we got it.”

Fighting Force may make his next start at Del Mar, where Engler is planning to send eight horses for the upcoming meet.

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