Courtlandt Farms' Strike Power made a triumphant return from an eight-month layoff Thursday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., while scoring a dominating five-length victory in the Race 9 feature, a 6 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance.
The Mark Hennig-trained 4-year-old son of Speightstown set sharp fractions of 22.37 and 44.51 seconds for the first half-mile on his way to a six-furlong clocking of 1:08.55 and a final time of 1:15.07 under Emisael Jaramillo.
Strike Power, who went to the sidelines in August 2018 after a series of subpar efforts, underwent arthroscopic throat surgery to correct a breathing problem that had compromised his form after a promising start to his racing career that included a victory in the Swale (G3) and a second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2).
“I haven't been that nervous before a race in a long time. We did a throat surgery on him and you never know until you get in a race situation how it's going to pan out,” Hennig said. “I'm just excited for the horse. I was so sad for him last year that he wasn't able to show his true quality in those few races. Hopefully, we repaired that issue and we'll go on from here.”
Strike Power launched his career at Gulfstream in spectacular fashion, earning a rare 100-plus debut Beyer Speed Figure while capturing a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race in a brilliant 1:02.67. He came right back to capture the Swale by 2 3/4 lengths before finishing second behind Promises Fulfilled in the Fountain of Youth while checking in 2 1/4 lengths clear of champion Good Magic. Strike Power's form declined in subsequent starts, finishing off the board in the Florida Derby (G1), Woody Stephens (G2), Amsterdam (G3) and Better Talk Now before heading to the sidelines.
Strike Power's triumph Thursday was very reminiscent of his debut victory at Gulfstream.
“We'll take him to New York this weekend, but he sure loves Gulfstream, so he might be back here before you know it,” Hennig said.
The $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3) on the June 29 Summit of Speed program at Gulfstream will be under consideration, Hennig said.
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