Joseph Fields Jr.’s homebred Any Limit turned the tables on her rival Game Face and won the Hurricane Bertie (gr. III) for the second time in three years, taking a short field of fillies and mares gate-to-wire in the $122,500 event Feb. 15 at Gulfstream Park.
It was sweet revenge for the 6-year-old Limit Out mare, who was beaten three parts of a length by Game Face less than a month ago in the First Lady Stakes (gr. III) in Florida. Any Limit, trained by Allen Jerkens, earned the fifth graded stakes of her career. She won the Hurricane Bertie back in 2007.
Under the handling of Cornelio Velasquez, Any Limit broke sharply from post three and went straight to the front. She was pressed by Lovely Isle through opening fractions of :22.79 and :45.39 in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint while racing along the inside.
When she hit the top of the lane, it was Game Face who presented the biggest threat. The 4-year-old Menifee filly came onto nearly even terms with the pacesetter under John Velazquez. But Any Limit dug in for the drive and inched clear until hitting the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front. The final time on the ‘fast’ main track was 1:15.95.
“My filly last time, she didn’t run her race," Velasquez said. "I knew Johnny’s (Velazquez) filly (Game Face) was better from the outside and this time he had to take the inside. I don’t think that helped them any. She (Any Limit) made a nice charge at the turn and I think that made a big difference. She took it to the next level.”
Game Face, who had won three of her last four starts for Todd Pletcher entering the Hurricane Bertie, settled for a clear second, 6 1/4 lengths better than Lovely Isle and Edgar Prado. Saratoga Tango and Orinoquia completed the order of finish in the field of five.
Any Limit, bred in Kentucky and out of the Forty Niner mare Clandestinely, won for the first time since taking the Honorable Miss (gr. II) and First Flight handicaps (gr. II) consecutively last summer. She has now won nine of 25 starts in her career with earnings of $619,138.
The 3-1 third choice, Any Limit paid $9.60, $3.20 and $2.20. The exacta (3-2) returned $17.20, while the trifecta (3-2-4) netted $31.
“I think not having to run a wicked first quarter helped her today," Jerkens said. "She trained a little better for this one than last time. Maybe the rail wasn’t as good today (Game Face made her challenge along rail). Turnabout is fair play.
"She missed this meet last year. She had a cut that just wouldn’t heal properly, but she’s doing good now, and as long she’s okay, she’ll go on to the seven-eighths race next (Inside Information Stakes on March 15).”