Ebony Breezes in Azalea Breeders' Cup

Edited from a track report

Ebony Breeze, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, collared pacesetter Storm Flag at the eighth pole and coasted home to the 4 1/4-length win in the $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup (gr. III) Saturday at Calder Race Course.

Trained by Bill Mott, who is now 3-for-3 in the Summit of Speed, the daughter of Belong To Me covered the six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 and paid $20.20, $7.20, $5.40. Storm Flag, with Gary Boulanger up, took the early lead before tiring and settled for second and paid $4.00 and $3.40. Crafty Brat, with Manoel Cruz aboard, rallied from 10th on the backside to take the show spot and paid $5.40. Buffythecenterfold, the 9/5 favorite, finished 10th in the field of 12.

"I think my filly was the best filly in the race," said Velasquez. "The last two times she tried the turf she didn't like it. Three-quarters, seven-eighths, six and a half (furlongs) on the dirt, this filly is better. She was perfect. At the half-mile pole I knew she could win easy. I had a lot of horse in the stretch-she was good. The trainer told me to be close to the pace but it was pretty fast. The last 1/16 was easy. I still had a lot of horse."

Owned by the Kinsman Stable of George Steinbrenner, Ebony Breeze earned $180,000 to nearly double her career bankroll to $364,525. The victory was her fifth in 11 career starts and is now 2-for-2 at Calder. Velasquez notched his second Summit of Speed victory in an event-high 13th start.

Storm Flag battled with Fabulous Brush for a quarter-mile in :21 2/5 before the former edged away as Ebony Breeze commenced her rally on the far turn. In the lane, Ebony Breeze drew even with Storm Flag just before the eighth pole and poured it on late for the easy victory.

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