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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL–The rule of thumb for the FTBOA Florida Sires Series at Gulfstream Park has several profiles. Extremely short-price favorites will appear and, like Forrest’s famous box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

The choices are either extremely formful results or winners who one can’t have confidence in even after the race. Saturday’s Gulf card had a little of each.

Actually, both heavy odds-on choices were beaten, although one was somewhat predictable; Liam’s Lucky Charm’s victory over Chance It in the finale, the Affirmed Stakes.

Two factors played into the defeat of the 1-5 Chance It in the Dr. Fager. While the favorite defeated the second favorite decisively in last, the difference maker yesterday was the longer trip and the ability of the upsetter to change leads.

[Liam’s Lucky Charm] had a little switching-leads problems last time,” said jockey Reylu Gutierrez. Mr. Nicks’ team does such a splendid job.”

Mr. Nicks, of course, is Ralph Nicks, noted with his work with two-year-olds. In fact, yesterday’s upset was Nicks’ third straight victory in the seven furlong Affirmed.

“I think he’s a little slow coming around,” said of his latest Florida-bred stakes winner. ”I think he’s going to get better as matures and gets older,” he said. “I think two turns is well within his grasp.”

That would be Sept. 28 and the $400,000 In Reality at 1 1/16 miles.

Ceci Valentina’s Susan’s Girl story is quite different. This Florida homebred did not have the stakes credentials as she only broke maiden in her second start one month ago.

Lenzi’s Lucky Lady, 3-for-3 and the 3-5 Susan’s Girl favorite–even if two of her three wins were most impressive on sloppy tracks, was deserving; a stalker from close range with a favorable outside draw given the dynamics.

But she appeared a little flat leaving the barrier and continued that way through, pushed hard throughout to assume a commanding position. That never happened.

Meanwhile, Ceci’s Valentine, was also expected to race close-up, but didn’t. “Where is she? Where is she?” trainer Angel Rodriguez kept asking himself.

Instead, she saved her best for last, coming from behind and grinding past tiring frontrunners for the upset. “It was a hard race,” jockey Marcos Meneses said. “But in the stretch she really gave me a good run. Today it worked out.”

“She was so far back,” said her trainer. “Marcos said she was in a little trouble. They were pinching her. They had nowhere to go. And then she got to the outside and came on very strong at the end.”

Rodriguez is looking forward to the My Dear Girl division at 1 1/16 miles, also on Sept. 28. “She’s really a nice filly,” said Rodriguez, who’s been training horses for 10 years.

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