Gemswick Park, sandwiched between two undefeated fillies as they lurched toward the wire, got her nose in front at the line to win an exciting renewal of the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 4.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Gemswick Park had an experience edge over the 11-10 favorite Elusive Heat as well as Frolic's Dream. That, along with an advantageous post, may have been the difference in the Old Hat, a six-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies.
Breaking from the far outside in the field of seven, Gemswick Park had the speedy Elusive Heat and Edgar Prado on her inside down the backside as Frolic's Dream, who hit the gate, hurried along from the inside for Jermaine Bridgmohan to put pressure on the pacesetter.
Elusive Heat, who had the lead from the start, clicked off an opening quarter mile in :22.17 with Frolic's Dream at her flanks while racing along the inside. Gemswick Park, moving easily on the outside, took over the pace pressing duties approaching the turn as Frolic's Dream dropped back a couple of lengths after a half-mile in :44.92. Elusive Heat, headed on the turn, fought back to get a narrow lead in the homestretch as Frolic's Dream, two lengths behind, angled out to challenge. Elusive Heat and Gemswick Park were head-and-head approaching mid-stretch and they were soon joined on the outside by Frolic's Dream for a rollicking run to the wire.
“From the three-sixteenths pole on down it was a smooth one," said Velazquez, who has ridden Gemswick Park in all but one of her starts. "I couldn’t ask for more. I felt a little pressure but, like I said, she responded at the three-sixteenths and we were able to finish. Once we got going I didn’t have any problems. This horse has a bright future ahead.“
Gemswick Park, a Melnyk Racing Stables Kentucky homebred, prevailed in a desperate finish, with Elusive Heat winning the photo for second by a nose over Frolic's Dream. The final time was 1:09.77 on a fast track.
A daughter of Eugene Melnyk’s Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown , Gemswick Park broke her maiden in her second start Sept. 14 at Belmont Park, winning by 6 1/2 lengths last September. Trainer Thomas Albertrani jumped Gemswick Park all the way into grade I company for the one-mile Frizette in her next start Oct. 4, and she responded with a third-place finish, 4 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Sky Diva. In her most recent try, the Tempted (gr. III) at Aqueduct Nov. 2, Gemswick Park was out-finished by Livin Lovin and finished second as the 8-5 choice.
“We tried to stretch her speed out a little farther than she probably really wants to go in the Frizette and Tempted," Albertrani said. "I’m not sure what’s next. I think I’d rather run her five furlongs than seven, but we’ll see. I do think she’ll handle any surface though, including turf.”
With her Old Hat win, the chestnut improved her career mark to 2-2-1 in five starts with earnings of $171,400.
Gemswick Park, who is out of the Relaunch mare Queen's Park, paid $11, $4.20 and $2.80 as the fourth choice. Elusive Heat, who was favored off a smashing 5 1/2-length debut win at Belmont Park Oct. 12, returned $3.20 and $2.20, capping a $2 exacta worth $30.60. Frolic's Dream, previously undefeated in three starts including a couple of stakes win at Calder last fall, was $2.60 to show.
Casanova Move, Honchis'n Ponchis, Sweet Repent and Redreamit chased the first three all the way.