Leonard Green's A Thread of Blue, narrowly favored over 10 rivals in his sophomore debut, jumped out to the lead and never looked back to register his first career stakes victory in Sunday's $100,000 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park.
The 11th running of the Dania Beach was the first of two one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds on a 12-race program, followed by the 23rd renewal of the $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) for fillies.
It was the second straight front-running victory over the Gulfstream turf for A Thread of Blue ($6.20), who completed the distance in 1:34.96 over a firm course. It was 3 ½ lengths back to stakes winner Louder Than Bombs, who rallied on the inside and outlasted a late bid from 2018 Bourbon (G3) winner Current by a half-length for second.
Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez was aboard for both wins. Their first time together, they went gate-to-wire to win a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer by 2 ¾ lengths Dec. 22 in his 2-year-old finale.
“The last time he was sharp and he broke. Today, it didn't look like there was anyone to bother him, but maybe [Ole Mole]. It worked out for us,” winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “When you talk about route races and turf, a lot of them are lacking pace, and we are the pace.”
A Thread of Blue, sent off at 2-1, broke sharply from Post 6 and was quickly in front, going the opening quarter-mile in 23.36 seconds with 70-1 long shot Ole Mole on the outside and Stirling Drive, at 50-1, on the inside battling for second.
Saez and A Thread of Blue remained in command after a half in 47.66 as Stirling Drive took up the stalking spot and was switched outside to challenge as they left the backstretch. Stirling Drive was unable to make up any ground and they straightened for home with A Thread of Blue still in front, opening up on the field through the stretch.
“He's very fast. He put me in that position,” Saez said. “I was there pretty easy and, man, when he came to the stretch he just took off. He did everything right.”
Purchased for $430,000 as a 2-year-old in training last March, A Thread of Blue debuted on the dirt last summer at Saratoga, finishing sixth. He broke his maiden in an off-the-turf sprint in October at Belmont Park and was third in the one-mile Awad Stakes on the grass there in November before his pre-Christmas Gulfstream score.
The $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the grass for 3-year-olds, one of nine graded-stakes worth $1.65 million in purses on Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) Day March 2, is the likely next spot for A Thread of Blue.
“He's a really nice horse who trains great. I was worried about [Ole Mole] having speed, but we broke well and they left us alone. It was just very impressive,” McLaughlin said. “We've always liked him. He's obviously liking Gulfstream, so we'll probably stay on this turf and run back in a month.”
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