Richard Sherman’s 5-year-old Kentucky homebred Nikki’s Sandcastle showed a second, two thirds and a fourth in as many tries at the Gulfstream Park meet going back to Dec. 4, but finally got his day in the winner‘s circle Friday after posting a hard-fought head decision in the eighth race.

Jockey Joe Bravo had Nikki’s Sandcastle rated in fifth down the backstretch of the 7 ½ furlongs turf test run under starter/allowance conditions, and rallied through the stretch to post his fifth victory in 22 career starts. Andrew Farm’s Chosen Empire finished third, two lengths behind the runner-up in the field of seven as Magdalena Farm’s 6-to-5 favorite Dark Cove finished fourth.

Trained by Dave Kassen, Nikki’s Sandcastle is a son of Castledale and paid $7.80 for $2 to win as the second choice, and was timed the distance in 1:27:63 over ‘firm’ ground.

Quote of the Day: Trainer Dave Kassen after sending out Nikki’s Castle to win Friday’s eighth race: “He’s been very unlucky with some bad trips here. I’m not blaming the jockeys, but you have to have some racing luck and he just hadn’t gotten a break until today. He’s honest and runs his race every time. He might get to run here one more time the last week of the meet before we go back to Chicago (Arlington Park).”

Who’s Hot: Jockey Joe Bravo rode a pair of winners beginning with David Melin and Laurie Plesa’s 3-year-old Singapore Thunder in the sixth race and Nikki’s Sandcastle in the eighth. Singapore Thunder moved trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. one victory closer to the 2,000 career victory milestone at 1,998. Plesa has runners entered in two races here Saturday and three on Sunday.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh also posted a double scoring with Buleria in the seventh and Abdel’s Ghost in the ninth.

The owner-trainer team of Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Mike Maker book-ended the card with 4-year-old Garryowen scoring in the first and 3-year-old Romantic Channel capturing the 10th race.

Work of the Day: Frank Calabrese’s 5-year-old Where’s Sterling worked six furlongs from the gate in 1:14 3/5 Friday morning at Gulfstream Park for trainer Nick Canani in preparation for his role as the possible favorite in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) going 1 3/16 miles on Florida Derby Day, Sat., Mar. 31.

The son of Northern Afleet won the Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G3) at Monmouth Park in August and finished a game second by a half-length in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) in October. In a very good effort last out in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) here on Feb. 11, he finished fourth, beaten only 3 ½ lengths by Hymn Book for it all with traffic trouble in the stretch.

Rainbow 6 Carryover: $328,529.53