Ralph C. Sessa's Blazing Rate nailed a resolute In Summation in the final stride to win the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, spoiling the previously undefeated colt's bid to sweep the series on Saturday during Calder's $1.6 million Festival of the Sun card.
Ridden by Cecilio Penalba, who scored his first FSS victory, the son of Exchange Rate
covered the 1 1/16 miles over "good" going in 1:47.45. Richard Root, who picked up his fifth FSS win, trains Blazing Rate.
"They fought hard all the way down to the wire, and he got the nod," Root said. "I had no idea whether he had won it.
"Ralph (Sessa) bought him privately after he didn't sell at the February sales here, but I didn't see him until he came to me in mid-April. He was a good-looking colt, but you never know what you've got until they run. This was the goal. I haven't thought about what might be next."
Saturday's victory was the second straight two-turn stakes score for Blazing Rate after the chestnut colt captured the $126,000 Foolish Pleasure Breeders' Cup Stakes at Calder last month. In his only prior FSS start, he ran second to In Summation in the Affirmed Division on Sept. 3. Saturday's win, his third in four trips to the post, was worth $240,000 and pushed his bankroll to $351,300.
"I am so happy right now," Penalba said. "This is the biggest win of my life. When he's running, he gives you the feeling that he can be a quality stakes horse going forward."
The second-place finish by In Summation snapped his perfect record after five victories.
"Galloping out, I really thought we won the race. I think Cecilio thought so also. We got a lot of pressure from Bailey's horse (Cab), but In Summation showed today even in defeat that he is going to be a very good horse and will handle the distance."
"He ran a great race and kept fighting back," said trainer Frank Gomez. "You win some, and you lose some."
It was 3 ¼ lengths back to Lucky Chief, who finished third in the 11-horse field. Lucky Chief lodged a claim of foul against In Summation alleging interference in the stretch. but track stewards overruled the objection.
Blazing Rate, sent off at odds of 7-2, paid $9.40, $3.80, and $3.