Front-running Eurosilver recorded his first graded stakes win in 18 months when he held off 21-1 outsider Twilight Road by a half-length in the $100,000 Skip Away Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Eurosilver, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song
, won for the first time in four starts for trainer Carl Nafzger. The Buckram Oak Farm homebred previously ran for Nick Zito when he became a Triple Crown contender last year after his win in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland in October 2003.
The threat ended, however, with a second-place finish in the Swale (gr. III) at Gulfstream more than a year ago. He did not race again until the fall.
"I think we've turned the corner with him now," Nafzger said.
Eurosilver, racing with blinkers for the first time and carrying 113 pounds, won the 1 1/18-mile Artax in a time of 1:49 1/5 on a fast track.
"With the blinkers on, he's a completely different horse," Castellano said.
Eurosilver broke in third place, but soon took the lead when he was in the clear while the fast breaking Biblical Scholar, The Lady's Groom and a couple of others tangled on the clubhouse turn. Eurosilver led the field of 10 through fractions of :23 3/5, :47 1/5, 1:10 4/5 and 1:36 1/5 with 8-5 favorite Zakocity tracking him all the way.
Zakocity, the high weight at 117, couldn't go the final eighth, however, as he settled for third place with Jerry Bailey aboard. Twilight Road, an 8-year-old gelding with lifetime earnings of $671,157 coming in, came from well back for Phil Teator with a bold bid, but he could not get by the determined Eurosilver. Twilight Road finished three-quarters of a length in front of Zakocity.
"When we came up on Eurosilver I thought we had it, but Eurosilver dug in," Teator said.
Biblical Scholar finished fourth, followed by Tap Day, Spite the Devil, Unigold, Ole Faunty, The Lady's Groom and Sir Oscar.
Eurosilver won for the fourth time in nine career tries while banking $436,710.
The Nijinksy II mare Russian Tango produced the winner, who paid $10, $6.40 and $3.60 as the second favorite. Twilight Road returned $14.40 and $6.60 and was part of a $181.60 exacta. Zakocity, who was coming off a third-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), was $2.80 to show.