Ultra-consistent Best of the Rest, ridden by Eibar Coa, defeated pace-making Booklet and a late-charging Grey Memo by 1 1/2 length Saturday in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
The 8-year-old roan was able to settle off lively fractions of :22.58, :45.90 and 1:10.58 set by Island Skipper and Booklet, who broke from the outside of the 12-horse field to help set the early pace.
In the stretch, Best of the Rest wore down the determined Booklet and Pat Day late while Grey Memo, with Jose Santos aboard, came flying on the extreme outside. Best of the Rest prevailed in a final time of 1:49.44 for the 1 1/8 mile.
Edward Plesa Jr. trains Best of the Rest for Beatrice Oxenberg, who bred the son of Skip Trial.
"He's a remarkable horse," said Plesa. "We saw two horses, a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old, and they just duked it out. The horse has a race as big as this racetrack.
"I compare him to the boxer George Foreman," Plesa Jr. said. "He just doesn't stop. The injuries he's had to overcome during his career, it was a fantastic race he ran. He's had four knee injuries, and if he hadn't had the surgeries he wouldn't be racing today. He would be standing at stud."
It was the veteran's third win in eight career tries at Gulfstream. Overall, Best of the Rest has won 14 of 27 starts, with six seconds and a pair of thirds. The $600,000 first-place purse pushed his career bankroll well over the million-dollar mark to $1,254,296.
"I always want to cry when he wins," Oxenberg said. "If you had to overcome all the adversity this horse has, then you would know."
Continental Red, considered the best of the California-bred horses in the Classic, was a disappointing eighth.
Sent off at 7-2 in the field of 12, Best of the Rest paid $9.40, $4.80 and $3.80. Booklet, who hung on for second in a close photo finish, returned $7.60 and $5.80. Grey Memo's show price was $6.80. The $2 exacta was $88.60.