Over a speed-favoring course turf course, fan-favorite The Pizza Man was unable to make up ground late on Saturday, allowing the Josie Carroll-trained Lukes Alley to nose out Shining Copper for the victory at odds of 5-1. The 6-year-old son of Flower Alley won the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in a final time of 1:48.20 for the 1 1/8 miles.
Shining Copper went out to the lead as expected, skipping out to a nearly three-length lead on the backstretch while setting fractions of :24.54, :49.12, and 1:13.63. While jockey Joel Rosario did an admirable job of slowing down the horse that Ken and Sarah Ramsey have used as a “rabbit” for Big Blue Kitten in the past year, he was just overcome in the final strides by Lukes Alley and Paco Lopez, closing from fourth to win by a neck. All Included hung around to be third, and Takeover Target was fourth. The Pizza Man was making strides late, but ended up finishing fifth.
“It was close,” said Carroll. “This is a gutsy horse. I knew he'd go down fighting if he lost. This is a horse that always shows up. I was confident he'd run his race and we were lucky enough to win it.”
Bred in Ontario by his owner Eugene Melnyk, Lukes Alley won his first grade 1 and improved his record to 8-4 from 14 starts. Lukes Alley was the Sovereign Award Champion Older Horse in 2014.
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