A Bit Special notched her third straight stakes triumph and first graded-stakes success with a dominating performance in Sunday's $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The Sweetest Chant, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, co-headlined Sunday's 12-race program with the $100,000 Dania Beach, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds won by A Thread of Blue.
Trained by Patrick Biancone for owners Linda Shanahan, Mrs. M. V. Magnier and J. P. Magner, A Bit Special ran a mile over a firm turf course in 1:35.62 to prevail by 2 ½ lengths under Julien Leparoux.
The Great Britain-bred daughter of Mukhadram's fourth win in five career starts was somewhat bittersweet for her connections, however. In her first four races, She was ridden by apprentice Romero Maragh in her first four races, in which she had won three and lost a photo finish in the other. Maragh broke two vertebrae in a racing spill last week and underwent successful surgery.
“The only thing sad is Romero is in the hospital. This makes me sad. They ask me why I'm not smiling and it's because the kid is injured. It's tough,” Biancone said. “Except that, she's very special. She's kind of a machine.”
Away from the starting gate alertly, A Bit Special gained stalking position outside pacesetter Eyeinthesky, who set fractions of 23.92 and 48.36 seconds for the first half mile while showing the way around the first turn and along the backstretch under John Velazquez. On the far turn. Regal Glory and jockey Jose Ortiz applied pressure while racing three-wide, prompting Leparoux to ask the 2-1 favorite for some run. She responded to take the lead on the turn into the homestretch, turn back the challenge of Regal Glory and draw off to win comfortably.
“She had a good trip. She broke good. She went easy all the way. She's a nice filly. She has goods tactical speed and a good finish – that's what you need with those big horses,” Leparoux said.
“I just have to mention about Romero. I feel bad for him. He's a young kid who will come back stronger, but we all think about him,” he added. “The surgery went good, so that's the most important thing.”
Chad Brown-trained Regal Glory held second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of late-closing stablemate La Feve.
A Bit Special's five victories have all come over the Gulfstream Park turf course.
“I noticed today the first two races on the inside track the front-runner won. I told Julien to get her out of there and hopefully somebody covers you. She had no cover, but it didn't bother her much. She kicked home like when she comes from behind,” Biancone said. “She's very, very special.”
Biancone has no immediate target for A Bit Special.
“I am going to let her cool down and see. We space her races [every] two months. We're not in a rush. She could be anything. She should be unbeaten. The race when she got beat she lost 10 lengths at the start and she only got beat a nose,” Biancone said. “She's special and she's a lovely animal to be around. When they're good like that, it's fantastic for the team.”
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