Making his second start in the U.S. and stretching out to 1 1/8 miles after missing by a neck in his last outing, Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Sporting Art was sitting on a win. Sent off as a lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the $100,000 Bulleit Bourbon Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO), the Christophe Clement trainee proved the bettors right at Gulfstream Park March 29.
According to Clement, the win may have earned Sporting Art a trip to the April 19 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland.
"He’s a nice horse and he’s trained like a nice horse," Clement said. "I will try him on the Polytrack next time. He came to the (United) States in early December... The final time is remarkable. These are 3-year-olds.”
Clement’s runners finished one-two in the 3-year-old turf event, part of Gulfstream’s Florida Derby (gr. I) day undercard. His other starter was Flying Dismount, a Proud Citizencolt coming off a 4 ½-length win in a Tampa Bay turf allowance.
Under Javier Castellano, who scored earlier on the card with Sugar Swirl in the $200,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II), Sporting Art raced mid-pack as longshots Wise Answer and Victory Café pressed through hot opening fractions of :22.82 and :45.91. The son of Doneraile Court tracked that quick pace up the backside, running three-quarters in 1:09.45. Moving into the turn, he angled four wide while the Barclay Tagg-trained Moral Compass found the lead and led a cavalry charge down to the wire through a mile in 1:09.45.
It looked as if Moral Compass would hang on, but in the end Sporting Art and Flying Dismount closed to pass the colt by respective margins of a neck and three-quarters of a length. The final time was 1:45.98. Titan of Industry, Prime Realestate, Run Sully Run, Celestial Comet, Cherokee Focus, Dynamalt, Wise Answer, and Victory Cafe completed the order of finish.
“I rode him in his first start here in this country," Castellano said. "Today he broke very sharp. He was supposed to come from behind, but he was a little closer to the pace. Christophe (Clement) told me not to hesitate on him and to ride him with confidence. He said he if he was close not to worry. I knew he had the race won because at the three-eighths pole I had a lot of horse. When I asked him, he took off.”
Sporting Art returned $8.20, $4.60, and $2.80. Flying Dismount and jockey Rene Douglas paid $10.60 and $6.60, while Moral Compass and Eibar Coa brought $4.
Bred in Kentucky by Frank and John Penn out of the Run Softly mare Playful Run, Sporting Art now has three wins and a second from five career starts. He won two of four starts in England last year, then ran in a Gulfstream allowance for the first time since last September, resulting in the runner-up effort.