Tracy Farmer's homebred Sir Shackleton wore down the surprise pacesetter Clock Stopper in the final sixteenth of a mile after a long drive and drew clear to win the $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) in track record time at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Javier Castellano, who won his fifth race of the day, Sir Shackleton, carried 116 pounds and finished 1 1/2 lengths over the slightly favored Lion Tamer (119), who came on late to edge Clock Stopper by a neck for second. The time was 1:21 3/5, which took two-fifths off the previous seven-furlong mark set recently by Madcap Escapade.
"Early on he was between horses and I thought he didn't want to pass," Castellano said. "I thought of trying to swing wide but then he went. I had to hit him a couple of times."
Clock Stopper eschewed his usual come-from-behind sprint style, rushed through a hole that appeared on the backstretch and took over pacesetting duties from Sir Oscar, who led the opening quarter mile in :22 3/5. Sir Shackleton and Lion Tamer were in close pursuit.
Clock Stopper ran on well after a :44 2/5 half mile and six furlongs in a rapid 1:08 3/5, but Sir Shackleton was too much to handle, overtaking the leader inside the sixteenth pole.
Sir Shackleton, a 4-year-old son of Miswaki who won his 2005 debut at Gulfstream Feb. 3 in a one-mile optional allowance event following a four-month break, paid $5.40, $3 and $2.20. Lion Tamer, making his first start since winning the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Nov. 27, returned $2.80 and $2.20. Both Sir Shackleton and Lion Tamer went off at 17-10 odds, with slightly more wagered on Lion Tamer.
"I told Javy (jockey Castellano) 'You've really got to persevere in these seven-furlong races' and he did," Zito said. "Javy was in a zone today – he won five races – but he kept his position throughout and did a great job with this horse. The horse did a great job, too."
"It was just his first race of the year," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Lion Tamer. "He was pretty wide on the turn and lost a lot of ground on a track that's probably not easy to make any up over. I thought he ran a solid race. We were spotting some weight to the winner. I thought he ran well."
Clock Stopper was $2.20 to show. Silver Wagon was fourth, followed by Sir Oscar and Built Up.
Sir Shackleton won for the sixth time in 11 starts, increasing his earnings to $713,705. He has won three times in four starts at Gulfstream.
"We might have gone one race too many last year, so we gave him a rest," said a beaming Farmer afterward. "He's come back just so strong. You saw him. A track record. You can't beat that."
Value Plus and Mister Motis scratched.