A change in his usual tactics contributed to a career-best effort for Anstu Stable's Ramazutti, a handy winner of Sunday's $150,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the Gulfstream Park lawn.
Maryland-bred Ramazutti was blanked in 10 starts in 2006 for trainer Anthony Sciametta Jr. , including a 10th-place finish in last year's Mac Diarmida, and hadn't posted a victory since taking a $25,000 optional allowance race at Calder in November 2005. But with John Velazquez in the irons, the 9-1 shot Ramazutti got a perfect spot early while relaxed slightly off the pace and came home best of all to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Dreadnaught in a time of 2:11 4/5, one second off the track mark.
“I definitely didn’t want to be in the lead," Velazquez said. "There was some speed out there and I didn’t want to go head-to-head.”
The 5-year-old Honor Grades gelding settled into third place, three to four lengths off the pacesetter Mending Fences, who took them along at a sensible clip of :23 4/5, :47, 1:11 1/5 and 1:35 1/5 before tiring in the stretch.
Ramazutti took up the chase rounding the final turn and got command over the outsider Gin and Sin approaching the furlong marker. He won under steady handling as the 7-year-old gelding Dreadnaught closed for second by one length under Jean-Luc Samyn.
“Johnny and I talked about it, and we thought that if Mending Fences went, this could be a great chance for him to learn how to sit off the pace," Sciametta said. "When (Gin and Sin) came from the outside, it was ideally the perfect trip. The only question with him was how would he run behind horses, but he did it very impressively."
Also closing well was Interpatation, who nipped Mustanfar by a neck for third.
Bee Charmer, the mild 7-2 choice, faded to finish last.
A confirmed front-runner, Ramazutti stalked the pace under Velazquez in his last start, finishing third as the favorite in the 1 1/2-mile W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. II), which was shifted off the Calder turf course to a sloppy main track Dec. 16. Ramazutti finished a game second in the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Gulfstream turf April 1. He improved his record to 4-4-1 in 19 lifetime races and earnings of $272,744.
William Paca Beatson Jr. bred the chestnut, who is out of the Mining mare Mine Inning.
Ramazutti paid $20.60, $8.60, and $5.60. Dreadnaught, a 7-year-old gelding who lost for the 11th consecutive time, returned $5.40 and $3.80. Interpatation, ridden by Tom Turner, was $5.60 to show.
Mustanfar, making his first start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin since finishing ninth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) in March, ran on well for fourth after an awkward start. Then came Tissy Fit, Mending Fences, Gin and Sin, Spider Power, Request for Parole, Can't Beat It, Devil's Preacher, and Bee Charmer.