Duke of Homberg shook free in the homestretch under jockey Alan Garcia to capture the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf for his first American win in four starts Feb. 14.
Trained by Tom Albertrani for Padua Stables, the Great Britain-bred son of Dynaformer defeated Lime Rickey by 1 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds. Duke of Homberg was timed in 1:41.30 on firm going.
Forwardly placed by Garcia after breaking on top from the rail, Duke of Homberg tracked pacesetter Tamborim through soft fractions of :24.48, :48.32, and 1:11.78 before getting the lead along the inside on the final turn. He put away his tiring rival in the lane and opened up a two-length lead in the final furlong, holding on smartly under steady handling over the rallying Lime Rickey and Julien Leparoux. Favored Into My Soul (5-2), ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
“We didn’t plan for him to be in front, but, just wherever he was, he was relaxed and comfortable," Albertrani said. "He’s got natural speed and had post one. The fractions were moderate, so it worked out.
"He trains like a turf horse, but that’s not to say that somewhere down the line we might not try him in a race that comes off turf. He might get a little time now. It’s a long season ahead.”
Duke of Homberg began his career in France last year, winning an allowance at Maisons-Laffitte in his second start in July before his transfer to the U.S. by new owner Satish Sanan, who purchased him privately. The bay colt ran creditably in two stakes starts on yielding turf at Belmont Park last fall, including a fourth-place finish in the Pilgrim (gr. IIIT) before Albertrani called it a season. Duke of Homberg returned to action at Gulfstream Jan. 17 with a fifth-pace showing in the one-mile Dania Beach Stakes on firm ground.
“The horse broke really well this time and was great all the way through," said Garcia, who rode Duke of Homberg in his 2009 bow. "Last time, I couldn’t get him to do anything. We were in there the whole way. I knew (Edgar) Prado (on Tamborim) would make a push, so I was trying to stay with him. The trainer had told me earlier that if we got out front to just let him run his race. We were in there the whole time. Thank God, we had a little more at the end.”
The winning purse of $75,000 increased Duke of Homberg's career earnings to $116,778. He has won two of six starts.
Aston Mullins Stud and Knockainey Stud bred Duke of Homberg, who is out of the Woodman mare Woodlass.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $8, $4.20, and $2.60. Lime Rickey, also second in the Dania Beach for trainer Frank Alexander, returned $4.80 and $3. while completing a $2 exacta worth $46.60. The Rick Dutrow-trained Into My Soul, in his first start since scoring a convincing allowance win on the Aqueduct lawn Nov. 20, was $2.80 to show.
Beacon Hill, Tamborim, Adari, Sweetlandofliberty, and Grace's Spirit completed the order. Jack Spratt, entered for the main track only, and Swinging Bernie scratched.