Sent off at odds of 5-2, Mike Tarp’s American County went wire-to-wire to win the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26.
Stepping back into stakes contention after an interlude in the allowance ranks, the Gibson County filly now has a well-rounded 3-3-3 record from 10 career starts and got her first stakes victory for trainer Dale Romans. In previous stakes attempts, the grade III Sorrento and Debutant Stakes at Del Mar and Churchill Downs, she finished a respective fourth and third.
Fourth at the start under Edgar Prado, American County went quickly to the lead while Validan pressed through a quarter in :21.81 and a half in :44.62. Lovehi was third briefly, but faded to fourth by the head of the stretch as 30-1 shot Robbie’s Gal made a move three wide and passed Validan. Sticking close to the rail, American County drew off to win by 1 ½-lengths after going five-eighths in :57.06. The final time for six furlongs was 1:10.38.
“She was strong the whole way," reported Prado. "She went easy on the backside and really picked it up coming for home."
"It was easy," Romans said. "She went so fast early, and everybody was trying to keep up. She just put them away. She trained well, and we were always pointing for this race."
Yogi’ssplashofgold, Lovehi, Sindy Jacobson, Cape Cod Lady, Banga Ridge, Blitzing, and Phantom Income completed the order of finish.
American County came into the Sunshine Millions Oaks off a 5 ½-length victory in a $50,000 allowance event at Churchill Nov. 24. It was her only win aside from a maiden victory scored at Fair Grounds May 13 last year. Bred in Florida by North Star Equine, she is out of the Pentelicus mare Young American and was a $65,000 purchase at the OBS California select 2-year-old sale in 2007. She now has earnings of $241,299.
American County and Edgar Prado returned $7.60, $5.20, and $4.20 to win, while Robbie’s Gal and jockey Jorge Chavez brought $19.20 and $9.40 to place, and Validan brought $7 under Kent Desormeaux.