HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Falling Sky set the pace in a recent mile allowance race at Gulfstream before tiring and giving way late to Revolutionary, a prominent contender for Sunday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1). To trainer George Weaver, the next step to take with the 4-year-old speedster was quite simple.
Falling Sky soared to victory in Saturday’s 36th running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), rocketing to a stakes-record clocking of 1:20.65 for seven furlongs, eclipsing the 1:21 winning time registered by Tour of the Cat in 2003. The 4-year-old son of Lion Heart came up just shy of the track record of 1:20.65 set by Hilda’s Passion on March 19, 2011.
Falling Sky, who finished just a half-length behind Revolutionary on Jan. 11, was hustled to the early lead by jockey Luis Saez and was closely stalked by Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) winner Singanothersong through a swift half-mile fraction of :44.37. After straightening out into the homestretch, just when the 14-1 long shot might be expected to tire, Falling Sky opened up, leaving a tiring Singanothersong in his dust, before drawing off to a 5 ½-length victory.
“We knew he would be on the engine. I was hoping to cut out a :45-and-change half and that would give us the best chance to win. When he went :44-and-change, I was a little bit concerned, but by the 3/16ths he was starting to draw off and he had plenty left,” Weaver said.
Narvaez, the longest-priced horse in the 11-horse field at 139-1, closed from last to finish second, a half-length ahead of Brujo de Olleros. Catron, the 2-1 favorite making only his third lifetime start for trainer Todd Pletcher, finished another head back in fourth.
Falling Sky, who captured a 6 ½-furlong sprint at Gulfstream last year before being stretched out and running in the Kentucky Derby (19th-place finish), captured his fourth race in 10 starts for Newtown Anner Stud and Joseph Bulger.
“My horse ran really well; he felt very comfortable. I knew I had a lot of horse left when I asked him in the stretch,” Saez said.”He felt good the whole way. Last time, I think he just needed the race, so I knew he would be tough today.”
Weaver said that sprinting would be the focus for Falling Sky with the ultimate goal being the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in November.
“I think to go that fast over this track, it was such a performance, it lets us think we can do some big things this year if we can keep him at that level,” Weaver said. “This horse has always trained good since I’ve had him. He’s an easy horse to train and he’s athletic and quick and an impressive horse to watch breeze.”
After watching Falling Sky just getting caught by Revolutionary at a mile in 1:35.07, a bit faster than Lea’s 1:35.30 Hal’s Hope clocking, Weaver had a good feeling about his colt’s chances in the Gulfstream Sprint.
“His last race was very good here. We didn’t want to run a mile, but that’s the only race they had and we hooked Revolutionary. We thought cutting back to seven-eighth today that he would run a big race,” Weaver said. “I couldn’t have told you he’d run 1:07-and-change and 1:20-and-change it was an awesome race.”