Pay Any Price ($5.60), who set a track record for five-furlongs on turf nearly three years ago, returned from an 8 ½-month layoff to capture his 10-year-old debut in Sunday's featured Race 7 at Gulfstream Park.
The multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter collected his 15th victory from 21 career starts at Gulfstream with a front-running triumph in the five-furlong optional claiming allowance under Emisael Jaramillo.
“I'm very emotional,” trainer Georgina Baxter said. “He was in a little bit tough today. I was a little bit worried.”
Pay Any Price broke alertly to take the lead, pressed by 9-5 favorite Fig Jelly into the stretch. The Florida-bred gelding shook off the challenge at the top of the stretch and held on gamely to prevail over late-closing Mai Ty One On by a neck.
The son of Wildcat Heir, who ran five furlongs in 53.61 seconds while winning the 2017 Silk Run, set swift fractions of 20.95 and 43.22 for the first half-mile on his way to a final clocking of 55.09. Fig Jelly finished third, another half-length behind Mai Ty One On.
Scratched out of the off-the-turf Janus Stakes Dec. 28, Pay Any Price was entered for a $62,500 claiming tag in the optional claiming race.
“No one took him,” Baxter said. “I'm relieved.”
The $150,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series Jan. 25 is the next goal for Pay Any Price, who pushed his career bankroll over $665,000 with the $31,900 winner's share of the purse. .
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