Bloom Racing Stable's Henley's Joy rebounded from an off-the-board finish in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) this Saturday, scoring a dominating 4 ½-length victory in the $75,000 Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The Pulpit, a mile turf event for 2-year-olds, was one of six stakes for juveniles that preceded the $600,000 Clasico Internacional del Caribe on an all-stakes 11-race program.
Sent to post as the 6-5 favorite in a field of nine, Henley's Joy scored his second stakes victory in four career starts for trainer Michael Maker. The son of Kitten's Joy saved ground under Tyler Gaffalione as Life Mission showed the way around the first turn and along the backstretch, setting fractions of 23.69 and 46.63 seconds for the first half-mile. Life Mission, a maiden who finished second behind Henley's Joy in the $390,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile in September, continued to show the way into the stretch before Henley's Joy shot past him at the top of the stretch and drew off to score an easy victory.
Henley's Joy, who finished 13th over a yielding turf course at Churchill Downs in the Breeders' Cup, ran a mile over firm turf in 1:34.34 seconds.
“His last race in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf, he didn't care for the soft going at all at Churchill Downs, so we figured we'd give him a confidence builder here,” Maker said. “The day after that race, he acted as if he hadn't run at all, so instead of giving him rest, we decided to give him some confidence and run him here.”
Life Mission finished second to collect his third stakes placing, a neck ahead of a late-running Louder Than Bombs.
Jacks or Better Farm's Garter and Tie, making his first start since producing three strong performances in the Florida Sire Stakes, parlayed a perfect trip under Tyler Gaffalione into a narrow victory in Saturday's $75,000 Smooth Air at Gulfstream.
The Ralph Nicks-trained colt rated off the pace set by Souper Jackpot and Maddy's Last Dance, who dueled into the stretch after fractions of 23.73 and 46.58 seconds for the first half-mile of the mile stakes for 2-year-olds. After reaching striking position behind the dueling pacesetters on the turn into the homestretch, the 4-5 favorite made a sweeping move entering the homestretch and wore down a very game Souper Jackpot by a neck. Union's Destiny closed to finish third, another 2 ¾ lengths back.
Garter and Tie, who finishing the in the Dr. Fager, won the Affirmed and finished second in the In Reality during the FSS series, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:38.44.
“He had to work today, he's a grinder and a hard trying horse. There were a little issues in the gate today. He made a few mistakes, as he's kind of got that in him, but at the end of the day he tries every time,” Nicks said. “He'll settle as we go along, but he's fresh in between races and tough. He works well on the track, the main thing is that the track stays safe and consistent and that's all that matters to me. From here we'll see how long we need to rest in between and continue to move forward. When he's ready we'll pick out a race for him.”
Pichi Investments' Zenden won the second straight race of his career with a hard-fought triumph in the $75,000 Buffalo Man, a six-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds Saturday at Gulfstream.
The 7-5 favorite, who debuted with a 1 ¾-length victory at Gulfstream Park West, pressed the pace set by Jackson past fractions of 22.41 and 45.78 seconds for the first half-mile before clawing his way to a two-length triumph. Jackson, the 5-2 third choice ridden by Luis Saez, held second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of 2-1 second choice Combination.
The Victor Barboza Jr.-trained Zenden, a Kentucky-bred son of Fed Biz, ran six furlongs in 1:12.32 under Emisael Jaramillo.
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