Glencrest Farm LLC's Honey Ryder saved her best running for the final furlong of Sunday's 1 3/8-mile The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT), running down Briviesca in the final strides for a neck victory on the grass at Gulfstream Park.
John Velazquez rode the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old daughter of Lasting Approval to perfection in the $100,000 stakes, completing the 11 furlongs in 2:11 3/5 on a firm course. Honey Ryder prevailed over Briviesca, who had disposed of the pacesetters Galloping Gal and Binya near the sixteenth pole and seemed destined for victory for jockey Jerry Bailey.
"It got a little tight on us there for a while and Johnny said she got a little intimidated, but when the opportunity came at the top of the stretch he took her outside and she was able to get the job done," Pletcher said.
Vous, with Joe Bravo aboard, came on late for the show spot.
The second choice in the field of 10, Honey Ryder paid $9.60, $4.80 and $3.80. The English-bred Briviesca returned $5.40 and $4.80. Vous was $5.80.
The Kentucky-bred gray/roan Honey Ryder was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Feb. 12, just behind third-place High Court, who was sent off as the narrow 3-1 favorite Sunday but was not a factor under Javier Castellano. Next-to-last at the furlong pole, High Court rallied to finish fourth.
In a stalking position from the outset while saving ground, Honey Ryder angled out for the drive and finished powerfully to just get up. Briviesca, far back early, made a bold move while three wide on the final turn to challenge the leaders, edging away from Galloping Gal. But Honey Ryder continued to progress through the stretch and reeled in Briviesca just in time.
"The only time she ever wanted to back out of there was leaving the half-mile, but she hung tough and I asked her to squeeze through coming around for home and it worked out perfectly," Velazquez said.
Galloping Gal changed tactics Sunday and set the pace to the eighth pole while shaking three lengths clear in the first half of the race. She posted solid fractions of :24 1/5, :47 3/5, 1:12 2/5, 1:36 1/5 and 1:59 4/5 before giving way and finishing fifth.
Wimborne Farm bred Honey Ryder, who is from the Affirmed mare Cuando Quiere. She is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Cuando Puede.
Honey Ryder won her second race from four starts at Gulfstream. Last year, she was third in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. III).
Following High Court and Galloping Gal were Savedbythelight, Royal Sweetpea, Binya, Noble Stella and Skip Command. Krasnaya, Coquinerie and Old Fashion Girl scratched.