Tracking from third early for Luis Saez, odds-on favorite Salto swiftly advanced around the far turn and dispatched pacesetter Mellow Fellow
to lead off the home turn by two lengths. He was not strong enough to hold his advantage, however, as Guys Reward burst from the pack with a powerful outside rally and overhauled him in deep stretch for a 1 1/2-length triumph.
With Abdiel Jaen in the irons, Guys Reward covered 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:43.44 to win at 14-1 odds. He tracked at the back of the nine-horse field early and advanced into contention on the inside past the quarter pole. Angling off the rail for a clear run from fourth in early stretch, he willingly lengthened stride to wear down the runner-up.
The 7-year-old son of Grand Reward posted his first win in 19 months since taking the Firecracker Handicap (gr. II) July 2012 at Churchill Downs
to cap a three-race victory skein. Trained by Dale Romans, the veteran turf performer improved his overall record to 8-5-10 from 41 career starts while posting his third stakes win and second in graded company. Dismissed in the wagering after a 10th-place on yielding turf in the El Prado Stakes Dec. 28 at Gulfstream Park
, he was much the best in the Tampa Bay Stakes.
Guys Reward returned $31.50, $7.80 and $5.20 while Salto returned $2.80 and $2.20. The 1-6 exacta was worth $57.60. Golden Sabre paid $3.
Guys Reward was bred in Kentucky by Haymarket Farm out of the Mr. Greeley mare Beach View. He has placed in five graded stakes, including a third to the eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the 2012 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) on the Polytrack at Keeneland