Leading from the start, Sand Springs was all out to hold off Potra Fabulous by a nose in Sunday's $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park.
The 5-year-old Sand Springs, who is owned by Swettenham Stud and trained by Bill Mott, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:38.41. Shaconage was two lengths behind Potra Fabulous in third.
Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Sand Springs built an open lead on the backstretch and was most closely pursued by favored River Belle through lively fractions of :22 4/5, :45 1/4 and 1:08 1/5. River Belle gave up the chase after Sand Springs led the field around the final bend but Potra Fabulous came on powerfully to make it extremely tight at the wire with Javier Castellano, who won five races Saturday.
"She's pretty much the kind of filly you just have to put your fingers in her mane and let her do what she wants," Bailey said. "If you try to do too much with her she gets out. I just let her do what she wanted today and said 'Hurry up wire.'"
The daughter of Dynaformer
, a multiple graded stakes winner, returned $12.20, $7 and $5.60 as the third choice in the 11-horse field.
Sand Springs gave trainer Bill Mott his second stakes win of the day. His Old Forester had won the Canadian Turf Handicap earlier on the card. Mott's assistant Ken McCarthy saddled both horses.
It was the mare's second start for Mott, who took over training her this year. She was disappointing in her previous attempt, which followed a 4 1/2-month layoff, when she broke badly and came home sixth as the 7-10 favorite in a classified allowance race at Gulfstream Feb. 11.
Her career mark improved to 7-3-2 in 21 career starts with earnings of $724,118.
The Argentine-bred Potra Fabulous, who had to steady on the first turn, just missed winning her first North American race for trainer Bobby Frankel. She returned $10.20 and $7.
"It was a perfect trip, exactly the way we wanted it," Castellano said. "Getting beat was just bad luck."
Graded stakes winner Shaconage, who closed from far back with jockey Manuel Cruz to get third while drifting out in the stretch, was $6 to show.
Pretty Jane, River Belle, Silver Lace, Marwood, Cloakof Vagueness, Mymich, Where We Left Off and Changing World completed the order.
Also Sunday, Old Forester won the $100,000 Canadian Turf Handicap, clocking 1:38.20 for the 1 1/16-mile event, which was a track record for the grass course.
The Mott-trained Old Forester, a 4-year-old Forestry
colt owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, defeated Gulch Approval by 1 1/4 lengths. Muqbil missed the place spot by a head, with Big Booster a neck back in fourth.
A $310,000 yearling purchase, Old Forester has a 4-4-2 record from nine starts for earnings of $183,730. He paid $24, $10.40 and $5.60.
Gulch Approval returned $7.40 and $4.80. Muqbil was $3.60 to show.