Paradise Farms Corp. and Walder Racing's Fast Pass ($15.80) rallied from far back to prevail over heavily favorite Cautious Giant by a length in Sunday's $75,000 Opening Lead Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The deep-closing son of Successful Appeal, who used similar tactics to capture an optional claiming allowance race in his previous start, ran six furlongs in 1:10.02 in the prep for the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3) on the June 29th Summit of Speed program at Gulfstream.
Riding the 6-year-old gelding for the first time, jockey Miguel Vasquez bided his time along the backstretch as Harryhee and War Giant showed the way through fractions of 22.79 and 45.15 seconds for the first half-mile. Cautious Giant made a three-wide sweep around the pacesetters on the turn into the homestretch under Emisael Jaramillo and appeared on his way to a popular score as the 4-5 favorite.
However, after making a wide sweep of his own on the far turn, Fast Pass responded to urging and powered his way to victory on the far outside.
“The jock rode him perfect. He's not the easiest horse to ride. Especially going short, the speed tends to get away from you, but you just have to trust that he's going to make that run,” trainer Peter Walder said. “I told the jock to fall out of there and make that one big run.”
Cautious Giant, who had won back-to-back races heading into the Opening Lead on two weeks rest, held second money, a half-length ahead of late-running Star Juancho.
Walder is undecided about Fast Pass' status for the seven-furlong sprint, which will co-headline the Summit of Speed card with the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2).
“We'll take a look at it,” Walder said. “I wish it was 6 ½ [furlongs], because 6 is really what he seems to like best.”
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