Alix M overpowered odds-on choice Bear Fan in upper stretch and drew off to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
A 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by End Sweep-Dice Passer (Affirmed), Alix M was ridden to victory by Cornelio Velsaquez, completing the six-furlong event in 1:10 2/5.
Bear Fan, out of action for more than six months, was sent off at odds of 2-5 in the field of six. She was two lengths in front of Double Scoop after a grueling speed duel. Cyber Slew finished fourth.
Ronald Spatz trains the winner for owner/breeder 7 Oaks Farm.
"I really wanted her to be just off the pace, so I was pleased the way the race set up," Spatz said. "She looked good turning for home and when (Cornelio Velasquez) got to scrubbing on her, I knew we had a good chance to win it."
Alix M stalked the pacesetters Bear Fan and Mooji Moo, who won the race at Santa Anita last year, rallying to challenge in upper stretch after early fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 1/5. She bumped Bear Fan while getting control at the eighth pole, completing five furlongs in :57 3/5.
She paid $11.40, $3 and $2.10 as the second choice.
Bear Fan ($2.20, $2.10) , ridden by John Velazquez, had to overcome an awkward start, rushing up to contest the lead with Mooji Moo, who faltered in the stretch and struggled home fifth. Double Scoop ($2.10), with Jorge Chavez aboard, closed ground while racing along the inside to get third, but did not challenge the first two finishers.
"We just got a good old-fashioned ass whupping," said Wesley Ward, co-owner and trainer of Bear Fan. "She got a little tired. It's hard to come back off a long layoff like that and be totally fit. She lost to a really nice horse."
Really Royal trailed.
Alix M was third in her last start, the Chaposa Springs Handicap (gr. III) at seven furlongs at Calder Dec. 31. She won the Connies Magic at Calder in her previous effort. She has now six of 10 career races and never finished worse than third. The $165,000 winner's share doubled her bankroll to $331,620.