Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Shining Copper fought back in the shadow of the finish line to capture Saturday's $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed 8-year-old gelding was headed by 30-1 longshot One Go All Go in deep stretch, only to fight back to prevail in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes by a head.
“You don't get that old without having a heart and trying hard,” trainer Mike Maker said. “He's just a tough old dude. He loves to run. He's an unbelievably smart horse.”
Shining Copper ($12.40) and jockey Jose Ortiz found themselves on an unexpected, uncontested lead after Heart to Heart, the 3-5 favorite in a field of eight, got off to a poor start under Irad Ortiz Jr. The old gelding was allowed to set comfortable fractions of 24.43 seconds, 48.52 and 1:12.33 for six furlongs over a turf course rated ‘good.' After repelling a bid by Team Colors on the far turn, Shining Copy took a clear lead into the stretch, only to be engaged by One Go All Go, who had enjoyed a ground-saving trip under Chris Landeros. The Scooter Dickey-trained challenger put his nose in front but was unable to withstand the resurgent pacesetter. All Included finished third, another two lengths back. Heart to Heart was rated off the pace after his poor start, made a brief run entering the far turn before stalling.
Shining Copper ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.44 to win his third straight stakes victory and second straight graded stakes in front-running fashion.
Ortiz, who won the Lure Stakes at Saratoga last summer in his only other ride aboard Shining Copper, was somewhat surprised not to be challenged for the early lead by Heart to Heart. He wasn't surprised when the son of Aragorn fought back to win.
“My horse always fights hard. When I won on him in Saratoga he fought really hard, too, so I knew he would when [One Go All Go] came to me. But I think that horse hung a little bit when he made the lead, too,” Ortiz said. “I was going easy enough early on that it didn't surprise me at all that somebody was going to push me a little bit. I managed to go a decent half for him and I'm glad he came back and had the victory for the Ramseys.”
Maker had high praise for Ortiz's efforts aboard Shining Copper.
“He [Jose Ortiz] isn't an Eclipse Award finalist for nothing,” Maker said.
Shining Copper is expected to make his next start in the Sandy Lane Gold Cup March 3 in Barbados, where the Ramseys and Maker have enjoyed success in recent years.
“We have two win and two seconds the last four years,” Maker said. “He'll be pretty tough to handle. They have very tight turns and you need to be forwardly placed and he fits the bill.”
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