Trinity Farm's Red Knight made a five-wide swoop to the lead entering the homestretch and held off favorite Soglio by a head in Saturday's $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream Park.
The two-mile stakes honoring the memory of the legendary Hall of Fame trainer headlined six turf stakes on Saturday's 11-race program.
Trained by fellow Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Red Knight was eased off a quick early pace and settled near the back of the 13-horse field as Ekhtibaar opened up a big lead while setting quick fractions of 24.22 and 48.40 seconds for the first half mile. Red Knight raced in ninth under Luis Saez after a mile in 1:39.05 and maintained that position on the final run along the backstretch before launching an impressive five-wide outside run on the far turn. The New York-bred son of Pure Prize swooped past the tiring pace-involved runners to take the lead and was all out to hold off the late surge by 6-5 favorite Soglio.
“It was a long race and they went pretty fast at first. I just tried to hold my horse, because he wanted to run off also in the first turn,” Saez said. “I just tried to stay patient all the way and in the last turn at the five eighths pole I came out and let him pick it up a little. When we came to the three eighths pole, he was ready to take off.”
Red Knight ran two miles over a firm course in 3:21.56 to win the first stakes and sixth race of his 11-race career.
“Luis made a tactical move leaving the backstretch. He got the jump on the favorite, who looked like he had a little trouble. It worked out well for our horse,” said Ken McCarthy, Mott's longtime assistant.
Soglio, who was ridden by Jose Ortiz, finished 6 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Nessy and jockey Julien Leparoux.
Takaya Shimakawa's Si Que Es Buena visited the winner's circle for the first time in the U.S. Saturday after scoring a victory in the $75,000 Via Borghese for fillies and mares on turf.
The 5-year-old Argentina-bred mare, a graded-stakes winner in Peru, had previously finished a close fourth in her U.S. debut in the Nov. 24 Long Island (G3) at Aqueduct. The daughter of Equal Stripes was the beneficiary of a perfect trip under Chris Landeros while prevailing over 6-5 favorite Holy Helena in the 1 3/16-mile stakes by a head.
Si Que Es Buena ($13) was rated in fourth around the first turn and along the backstretch as Top Cats set slow fractions of 25.91 and 57.62 seconds for the first half mile, stalked by Majestic Angel on the outside and Holy Helena, who saved ground under Tyler Gaffalione. Leaving the turn into the homestretch, Landeros swung his mount around the tiring pacesetters, getting the jump on Holy Helena, who lacked running room until mid-stretch. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained multiple-stakes winner made a late rush, but it was too late to overtake the Motion trainee. Peru closed under Jose Ortiz to finish third, another 1 ¾ lengths back.
Si Que Es Buena ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:46.75.
“In her last race she came from a long way out of it on a softer turf course going one mile and a half, so we thought today she'd probably have to be a bit handier. They went pretty slow, so Chris had her in a great spot, she's a pro this filly. I think she needed that first race to kind of get used to the American style and she really has figured it out,” Motion said. “She's worked really well in the morning at Palm Meadows. I think since she's been here, she's gradually improved every month, even in her works at Fair Hill and then since her last race, she's really stepped it up. I was looking for her to run well today, you never necessarily think you're going to win, but I thought she'd be very competitive.”
Motion said Si Que Es Buena is likely to start next in the $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3) on the Jan. 26 Pegasus World Cup undercard.
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