The 9-year-old gelding captured his 18th career victory Friday, fighting back in the final yards under jockey Joe Bravo to capture the fifth race by a head at Gulfstream Park. Returning from a 10-week layoff, the New Jersey-bred campaigner ($11) had relinquished the lead to 8-5 favorite Safe Trip in mid-stretch.
Making his 43rd start and, somewhat surprisingly, his first ever start at Gulfstream, the Ben Perkins Jr.-trained Joey P. was accompanied to the winner’s circle by Bravo for the 13th time.
“He’s always been a special horse. He’s really big, long and lanky. You look at him and you’re like, ‘He’ll never have any speed…the gates open and he’s gone,’” Bravo said. “The first time I rode him was in a workout and I said, ‘Who is this? And what is this?’”
Although Joey P. and Bravo have shared many winning moments, the New Jersey native picked out a losing effort as his best performance.
“It was in the (2007) Fall Highweight when he got beat. He ran second. He stumbled out of the gate; got checked on the backside; and came back flying past horses,” said Bravo, recalling the race in which Joey P. swept around horses after the early trouble to take the lead in the stretch, only to be caught late by Grand Champion.
Joey P., who raced for a claiming price of $62,500 in the optional claiming allowance, won first-money of $25,800 to boost his career bankroll to 1, 063,217 for owner/breeder John Petrini.
Carryovers Saturday for Rainbow-6 and Pick-5
Gulfstream bettors will be treated Saturday to carryovers for both the 10-cent Rainbow-6 and the 50-cent Pick-5. The Rainbow-6 will have $50,726 carried over, while the Pick-5 will boast a carryover of $53,650.
In the featured eighth race, an optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares, Catch a Thief ($7) posted a one-length victory with a front-running effort under Rajiv Maragh. Prepping for the Sabin Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream on Feb. 19, the Tim Hills-trained 4-year-old ran a mile in 1:37 3/5 for her fifth victory in eight starts.
Doc Green, a 70-1 outsider ridden by Jeffery Sanchez, lit up the toteboard following the sixth race. Making his first start for trainer Edwin Vasquez, the 4-year-old gelding closed from off the pace to win by a half-length over In Speight of It, a 35-1 longshot ridden by Raymundo Fuentes.
Doc Green paid $143.40 for a $2 win ticket and keyed a $2 exacta payoff of $1,167. The $1 superfecta (1-6-2-3) paid $42,141.70.