Spook Express Upsets Gaviola in Suwannee River Handicap

Spook Express Upsets Gaviola in Suwannee River Handicap
Photo: Associated Press/ Equi Photo/ Bill Denver
Spook Express (5), with Mike Smith riding, edges out favorite Gaviola (1) and Jerry Bailey to win the $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. Sunday, Feb. 18, 2001.
Spook Express rallied from last place to overtake pacesetter Gaviola in the deep stretch, winning the $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a half-length Sunday at Gulfstream Park. The win was the second straight graded stakes win for the 1998 South African champion.

Odds-on favorite Gaviola opened a two-length lead over Megans Bluff on the backstretch and continued on the lead into the stretch while chased by Solvig and Windsong. Spook Express moved up to fourth in mid-stretch before making up nearly four lengths in the final furlong. Gaviola finished second, a neck ahead of Windsong. Solvig came home fourth, followed by Lady Dora, Tippity Witch, Orange Sunset, and Megans Bluff.

Spook Express, guided by Mike Smith, completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.28 on firm turf. Earlier in the Gulfstream meet, Spook Express earned a similar half-length win in the Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT). Spook Express was South Africa's champion 3-year-old filly of 1998. As a 3-year-old, Spook Express won eight of nine races in South Africa, finishing second in her lone defeat. Spook Express (Comic Blush--Park Walk, by Green Dancer) was bred in South Africa by Jack Syndicate.

Spook Express earned $60,000 for the win, her 12th in 16 career races. She is trained by Thomas J. Skiffington for Kinloch Entrprises.

Sent off as the third choice in the wagering at 7-1, Spook Express returned $15.60, $5.40, and $4.60. Gaviola paid $3 and $2.80. Windsong was worth $6 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $44.40. (Chart, Equibase)

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