A finicky young filly who prefers to be left alone got her wish Saturday, breaking on top in the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes and pulling away for a convincing victory at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The winning performance by Two Sixty was a far cry from her previous race when she acted up soon after the start and dumped her jockey.
“We didn't really know what happened,” said Nick Tomlinson, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, of the 2-year-old filly's adventurous race in the middle leg of the series for 2-year-old fillies registered to the Florida Sire Stakes program. “We just kind of took a step back, went back to the drawing board with her, and tired to figure out what was bothering her.”
What they discovered was that Two Sixty didn't like to be near other horses.
“We found that when she was surrounded by other horses, she didn't like it,” Tomlinson said.
That's why Tomlinson's pre-race instructions to jockey Edgard Zayas were to “just try to keep her in the clear.”
Zayas did exactly that, sending Two Sixty to the front in the 1 1/16-mile stakes and remaining there throughout. Two Sixty pulled away in the stretch for a 6 1/4-length victory over Filly Jean King.
“It's a very gratifying win for us,” Tomlinson said.
Two Sixty, who was purchased in March by Gary Barber for $260,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales, nearly made up for her purchase price with Saturday's win.
“(Casse) trained the sire (Uncaptured), so for him to be able to do this is great,” Tomlinson said.
Two Sixty showed early promise when she won her debut race by four lengths at Gulfstream on July 6. Zayas was so impressed that he predicted big things for her.
“A lot of the credit goes to Edgard because he told me after her first win that this filly will win a (Sire) Stakes race,” Tomlinson said. “I'm glad he was right and I'm glad it was this one.”
Said Zayas: “I really had big expectations of this filly from the beginning. She's just had a couple bad trips, but finally she had a great trip and got the work done.”
Two Sixty's attempts in the first two legs of the series didn't turn out well.
She finished a distant third in the opening leg, the Desert Vixen Division, after being bumped at the start and showing a disdain for the sloppy surface that day.
Next came the Susan's Girl Division on Aug. 31.
She ducked out shortly after the start, throwing Zayas. That's when Tomlinson and his crew went to work, trying to find a solution.
“We put her behind horses when we worked her, and she worked great,” Tomlinson said.
But Zayas made certain Two Sixty would not be distracted by other horses when he sent her straight to the lead on Saturday. That strategy came as a bit of a surprise to Tomlinson.
“When she broke from the gate and went for the lead, honestly, I was a little surprised because she's never really shown that (early speed),” Tomlinson said. “But I'm glad it worked out today.”
None of Two Sixty's eleven rivals were any match for her, completing the trip in 1:44.41 after being sent off as the third wagering choice at odds of 5-1.
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