Jambalaya angled to the outside in the stretch and then won a mad dash to the wire by a neck over favored Honey Ryder and Einstein, attaining grade I glory for his Canadian connections in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf at 1 3/8 miles Saturday in south Florida.
The 5-year-old Langfuhr gelding enjoyed a ground-saving trip with Javier Castellano aboard, but needed room after being blocked on the final turn when pacesetter Fri Guy tired and the pack tightened. Castellano angled the 7-1 hope outward in upper stretch.
Jambalaya was able to regain his momentum in time to edge past an unlucky Einstein inside the sixteenth pole. The mare Honey Ryder, able to exploit an opening between horses for John Velazquez, got the lead briefly but could not quite resist the relentless winner in a terrific finish.
The first nine horses at the wire in the field of 11 were separated by only three lengths.
“I had a beautiful trip, swung around at the top of the stretch, and he had a good kick from there,” said a happy Castellano.
Owned by Kingfield Racing Stable and trained by Catherine Day Phillips, Jambalaya has amassed a solid record against the best turf competitors in Canada. The dark bay won the Breeders Stakes at Woodbine, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown in August 2005, following that with his only prior graded stakes victory in the Saranac (gr. III) at Saratoga one month later.
Though he won just once in nine starts after that prior to Saturday, Jambalya was stakes-placed in three Woodbine graded turf events. In his last start, the 1 1/16-mile Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Gulfstream grass Feb. 3 following an absence of more than three months, Jambalaya was a gaining third, beaten by three-quarters of a length.
”He’ll run on just about any kind of ground, but not real soggy turf like it can get in the fall at Woodbine," Day Phillips said. "Otherwise, he runs his race. He’s won some tight finishes and lost some. He won at Saratoga by a nose (Saranac in 2005) and that was a thrill, but this is probably the biggest for me. I had a nice horse last year in A Bit o’ Gold, who won a couple of grade twos, but this is really special. We’ll taking him back to Ocala, but bring him back for the Pan American (Mar. 31).”
The winning time was 2:12 1/5 on firm going.
The 74-1 shot Fri Guy gained the early advantage over Go Between through realistic fractions of :24, :48 1/5 and 1:13 2/5. Go Between led with three furlongs to go after a mile was run in 1:37 2/5, but Einstein, five wide on the final turn for Rafael Bejarano, took over inside the eighth pole. Einstein, the winner of this race last year, was quickly collared by the 2-1 choice Honey Ryder, who had to wait for room between rivals. Meanwhile, Jambalaya was gathering steam on the far outside.
Jambalaya gained the advantage in the final couple of strides over Honey Ryder, who finished a half-length in front of Einstein.
Ridden for the first time by Castellano, Jambalaya improved to 6-1-5 in 17 starts while pushing his earnings to $799,793. He paid $16.20, $7.40, and $5.20.
Out of the Vice Regent mare Muskrat Suzie, Jambalaya was bred by Gustav Schickedanz.
Honey Ryder, who won the Flower Bowl (gr. IT) in October before finishing third -- 2 1/2 lengths behind champion Ouija Board -- in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in her last start Nov. 4, returned $4 and $3.
Einstein, wide throughout in his fourth start since winning the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf last year, was $3.40 to show.
Go Between held fourth, followed by Revved Up, Embossed, Dynantonia, Mustanfar, Interpatation, Fri Guy, and Ramazutti.