Jockey Jose Lezcano was aboard Declan’s Warrior for trainer Nick Zito and leading Gulfstream rider Javier Castellano had the mount on Narvaez for trainer Agustin Bezara in the field of six. Declan’s Warrior first dueled with Klaravich Stable’s and William H. Lawrence’s even-money favorite Acclaim around the turn, putting him away as Narvaez ranged up on the outside before matching strides to the wire.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Zito of Declan’s Warrior. “He probably got the lead a little too soon, but he really dug in and was game. He broke sharp today (after slow start in last). I think he’ll be a good miler and probably go two turns at some point. We’ll look around at the options from here, see how he comes out of this race, maybe the Bay Shore at seven-eighths is one possibility.”
A Kentucky homebred by Majestic Warrior, Declan’s Warrior was making his third career start after a winning debut at Belmont Park in October and a neck loss after getting “off slowly” in an allowance here on Feb. 9 won by Park City, the latter entered to run in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) later Saturday afternoon. The $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3) will be run at Aqueduct on Wood Memorial Day, Sat., Apr. 6.
Narvaez was making his fourth start as the roan/gray son of Holy Bull turned back slightly in distance after a three-month layoff from a fourth-place effort behind Tulira Castle going a mile here on Dec. 8. Declan’s Warrior paid $3 for $2 to win while Narvaez returned $8 for $2, The dead-heat winners were timed in 1:29:74 over the ‘fast’ track. Acclaim checked in third, 4 ¼ lengths behind the winners.
Who’s Hot: Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano had one of his best days of the season riding five winners, climaxed by the victory on Discreet Dancer in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
Castellano came out of the gate fast riding the winners in the first three races on the card, sweeping the Early Double with Conquesta ($4.00) in the first and Sonja's Angel ($3.80) in the second, and kept it going to three in a row with a dead-heat victory in the third aboard Narvaez ($8.00).
Castellano was back in the winners’ circle after the eighth aboard first-time starter Red Rifle ($5.40). Red Rifle and Discreet Dancer are trained by Todd Pletcher, who was at Tampa Bay Downs where he sent out Old Tune to capture the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (G3) and Verrazano to score as the odds-on choice in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3),
The defending Gulfstream meet champion, Castellano extended his lead in the standings over closest rival Joel Rosario to eight (77-69) with almost a month to go in the session that runs through Apr. 5. Rosario was out of town Saturday to ride at Tampa Bay Downs.
Jockey Alan Garcia won three races with favorite War Dancer ($4.40) in the fifth, Taken by the Storm ($13.40) in the seventh and nightcap 11th aboard Merilore ($9.80).
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $489,474.86