You could take nothing away from the top three finishers in the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), but Turtle Bird Stable’s Sir Whimsey got the job done and drew away in the final furlongs to win by a half-length.
Coming off a Jan. 16 allowance victory at Gulfstream for trainer Jimmy Toner, the 4-year-old son of Jump Start got an easy pace to run at as Kevin Attard trainee Leonnatus Anteas moved Amy Tarrant’s Kiss the Kid through mild early fractions of :24.91 for the quarter, and :50.50 for the half.
Jockey Edgar Prado kept Sir Whimsey just off those two on the outside, while 6-5 favorite Fairbanks hugged the rail in fourth and Wood Be Willing trailed the field through three-quarters in 1:14.46.
Sir Whimsey took the lead when they hit the top of the stretch, and jockey John Velazquez set Fairbanks down to a determined drive on the inside through a mile in 1:38.06. In tight quarters with the tiring Kiss the Kid, Fairbanks fought on gamely, but was outbid for the wire as Sir Whimsey came home in a final time of 1:56.96 for the 1 3/16-mile race.
“I was concerned about the other horse coming back (Fairbanks),” Prado said. “I didn’t know who it was, but I thought it was him. He kicked in strong coming down the stretch. The slow pace helped my horse’s running style. When I rode him last out in the allowance race I didn’t even have to hit him; it was like an afternoon workout, so I was very confident coming in today.”
Bred in Virginia by Chance Farm out of the Star de Naskra mare Apogee, Sir Whimsey carried the high weight of 117 in the field of five and got his first graded victory. He now has a 4-3-1 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $356,043.
“I got him last spring (after finishing fifth in the Peter Pan Stakes),” said Toner. “He had run pretty hard last winter and into the spring, so we turned him out in Camden (South Carolina) for three months and he’s gotten better with each start since coming back. He obviously likes the track here. He’s two-for-two. There are several options to consider now.”
Sent off at odds of 7-2, Sir Whimsey returned $9, $4.60, and $2.80. Fairbanks paid $3 and $2.20, while Kiss the Kid and jockey Eddie Castro brought $2.40 to show. Leonnatus Anteas and Wood Be Willing completed the order of finish.