Trainer Linda Rice may have a budding turf star in fast-improving Lucifer's Stone, who hit the starting gate and was steadied on the far turn but managed to win the $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Lucifer's Stone, ridden by Jose Santos, squeezed through an opening along the inside to tally by a half-length over favorite Dynamia, with Jerry Bailey aboard. Honey Ryder was third in the field of 12, another three-quarters of a length behind.
"When Jose (jockey Santos) got off this horse he said, 'this filly is so brave she went through half a hole.' She's not a timid filly," Rice said. "She wasn't going to be intimidated by being down on the inside. She's run some pretty incredible races. One of her first wins at Saratoga she got the last eighth in 11 4/5 and blasted through a hole a lot like in this race. She's got a lot of courage."
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile event over a firm course was 1:52 3/5. Lucifer's Stone was making her first start in graded stakes competition.
Breaking from the inside post, the bay filly by South African champion Horse Chestnut
hit the gate coming away and found herself buried on the inside behind most of the field while racing at the hedge. On the home turn, she was forced to steady while waiting for room.
But in the stretch, she was able to squeeze through on the inside of fading pacesetter Chelsea's Pearl to gain a slim advantage in the final sixteenth. She was fully extended to edge Dynamia as the pair battled to the wire. Honey Ryder, with Edgar Prado aboard, angled out for the drive to get third, 1 1/4 length in front of Vous.
"I hit the gate at the start. Then I had a choice," Santos related, "to go through half a hole or go around everyone. I didn't want to go 10-wide, so I took my chances and it worked out. Then she ran very strong once she was clear."
Chelsea's Pearl set moderate fractions of :24 2/5, :50 and 1:15 3/5 before fading to finish last.
Lucifer's Stone, who is from the dam Ladue (by Demons Begone, was bred in Kentucky by Mega Stable. She was purchased for $150,000 at Fasig-Tipton in February 2003.
Rice said she wasn't sure where she would point Lucifer's Stone next. "I just want to give her some time," she said.
The victory, her third in six starts, was worth $60,000 for Team Solaris Stable, nearly doubling her lifetime purse total to $129,244. She was coming off of a one-length non-winners of one allowance win at 1 1/16 mile on the Gulfstream grass Jan. 14.
The second choice paid $9.40, $4.40 and $3.40. Dynamia, who was favored off a 4 1/2-length maiden score at Fair Grounds Jan. 3, returned $4.40 and $3.80. Honey Ryder's show was $6.60. The $2 exacta was worth $48.40.