The Lead: Trainer Shug McGaughey's decision to run Abaco in an optional claimer Sunday rather than the $100,000 South Beach paid off when the 4-year-old filly won her fourth consecutive start. The daughter of Giant's Causeway won the sixth race over a mile turf course by 1 1/4 lengths.

“She was in the stake and I took her out of the stake when this three-other-than (allowance) went,” said McGaughey. “The stakes is a pretty solid stakes. I’m satisfied with my decision. The goal this winter is the Suwannee River (G3, Feb. 9), going a mile-and-an-eighth. She’ll get a little break now.

“I was a little surprised when she broke that she acted a little sulky. John said he wanted to leave her alone anyway. It was probably good for her to be able to make a long sustained run like that. I’m pleased with her. I think we’re on the right track."

Jockey John Velazquez aboard Abaco for her fourth straight win, added; “She gets better with every race and has gotten so much better. She ran at Gulfstream in March and ran a good third and barely got tired. After that race she continued to improve and do better each race.

“I was a little scared today because she broke out of the gate and didn’t go anywhere for the first eighth of a mile, and it looked like she wasn’t going to go anywhere. By the backstretch I said to her we have to get serious. As soon as I got her into a good momentum she was perfect and picked it up really easy.”


Who’s Hot: Wesley Ward won two races on the card, which gave him the lead in the trainer standings with six wins for the meet. In the third race Emotional Kitten won and paid $6.80 while Apollo Sky took the fifth and returned $3.

Peter Walder also had two winners on the card, winning the second with Megalith ($4) and the seventh with Evil Powder ($8.80).

Jockey Francisco Torres was two-for-two on the day, including a win in the South Beach on Romacaca.

Rainbow 6 carryover: $30,652.04.