Edited Gulfstream Release – O’Connor, a Group 1-winning multiple-stakes winner in Chile, made an impressive U.S. debut at Gulfstream Park Sunday, scoring a six-length victory in a strong 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance.
Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., the 5-year-old Chilean-bred lagged off a sharp early pace before sweeping to the lead on the turn into the homestretch and drawing clear under Edgard Zayas. O’Connor had been racing at the distances of 1 ¼ miles and 1 3/8 miles in Chile, where he had won the Gran Premio Latino American (G1) and finished second in the Gran Premio Hipodromo Chile (G1) in April in his two most recent starts.
“It took him a little while to acclimatize when he first came over here, but his last couple works were as good as a horse can work. The horse has unlimited talent,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “I was a little bit concerned this race might be a little short for him, but he got the pace to run into.”
O’Connor, who gave Zayas his fourth winner of the afternoon, had won nine of his 18 starts in Chile with five runner-up finishes. Joseph expressed high expectations for the son of the Kingmambo stallion Boboman.
“He’s a very nice horse. I would say we would like to go to the Harlan’s Holiday and give him a shot in the Pegasus,” Joseph said. “Obviously, the Harlan’s Holiday is a big steppingstone, but we think he’s that kind of horse. With a lot of the big guns retiring, it makes sense.”
The $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) is one of five graded stakes on the Dec. 31 program at Gulfstream Park, where the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) will be run Jan. 28.
Fernando Vine Ode’s O’Connor ran 1 1/16 miles Sunday in 1:42.38 as the 9-5 second betting choice in the Race 7 co-feature. Multiple-stakes winner Octane, the 3-2 favorite who closely attended the hot pace by Chilean import Vivir Cn Alegria, held on to finish second, a head in front of graded-stakes winner Sole Volante.
In Race 10, the $55,000 Opa-Locka Handicap, Rodney Lundock’s Maryquitecontrary captured her fourth victory in five career starts with a thoroughly professional off-the-pace victory.
The long-striding daughter of First Dude, the only 3-year-old in the field of seven fillies and mares assembled for the seven-furlong overnight handicap, settled off a comfortable early pace set by Quinoa Tifah before launching a four-wide sweep leaving the backstretch, taking the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing clear by two lengths.
Joe Catanese-trained Maryquitecontrary, the even-money favorite, ran seven furlongs in 1:23 .20 under Luca Panici, who was aboard for Poseidon’s Passion’s victory in Saturday’s featured Miami Gardens Handicap. Quinoa Tifah finished second, a neck ahead of third-place finisher Restofthestory.
Maryquitecontrary won at first asking in a June 11maiden optional claiming race before finishing second in the Azalea Stakes a month later. She came right back to win an Aug. 19 optional claiming allowance to set up her first stakes victory in the Sheer Drama Sept. 10