Master Dunker Put Up in Hallandale Rodeo Run

Master Dunker Put Up in Hallandale Rodeo Run
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Master Dunker in the Hallandale Beach Stakes.

Master Dunker was awarded victory in the $100,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes when favored King Congie was disqualified for drifting out badly through the stretch on the turf course at Gulfstream Park Feb. 6 (VIDEO).

Master Dunker was hardly blameless in a stretch run that looked more like a cavalry charge than a horse race, as he, too, veered out sharply under left-handed urging by jockey Luis Saez. But stewards found that King Congie's actions under Javier Castellano were the more egregious while forcing out Brilliant Speed   from the center of the course. They placed the 5-2 choice third.

“Turning for home King Congie kept coming out and took Brilliant Speed out three, four paths," explained steward Don Brumfield. "There’s no way Brilliant Speed could have got by King Congie the way he was carrying him out.”

That made Master Dunker the winner of the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds at odds of 12-1 with second choice Brilliant Speed, ridden by John Velazquez, moved up to second.

King Congie was first under the wire by a head over Master Dunker, with Brilliant Speed a neck farther back. The race was timed in 1:41.30.

The stewards' decision made Master Dunker, a son of Imperialism  --Finding Bucks, by Buckfinder, a winner for trainer David Fawkes and owner Get Away Farm Racing Stable. Master Dunker was third in Gulfstream's one-mile Dania Beach Stakes in his last start Jan. 16, a race the unfortunate Brilliant Speed lost by a nose to Adirondack Summer. King Congie was slightly favored in the Hallandale Beach off his half-length win in the Tropical Park Derby at Calder Jan. 1.

“He’s definitely a lot better on turf," Fawkes said of Master Dunker, indicating he would probably run in Gulfstream's Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 12.

Stormy Going led the first six furlongs of the Hallandale Beach, cutting fractions of :23.33, :48.35, and 1:12.09 before fading.

King Congie, well off the pace early, advanced into contention while three wide off the final turn and got the lead while drifting wide through the lane. Brilliant Speed, on the far outside, was forced out even further by King Congie, causing him to lose momentum. Meantime, the stalking Master Dunker reached even terms with King Congie to his outside leaving the eighth pole before veering out as well but not seriously bothering any of his rivals.

"Whenever I’ve ridden him in the past we’ve been on the outside of horses," Saez said. "Today we were on the inside just waiting and waiting. I never had the opportunity to get him outside. Luckily, the race came to a good end.”

Liberty Cap, who was fractious going to the gate and dumped jockey Alan Garcia, finished fourth. He was followed by East of Danzig, Cozy Kitten, Private Prize, Stormy Going, and Megalith. Winchill   was a veterinarian's scratch at the gate.

Master Dunker, who paid $26.80, $11.20, and $6.40 as the 120-pound high weight, improved his career record to 3-0-3 in seven starts and has now banked $109,323. Live Oak Plantation's homebred Brilliant Speed returned $5 and $3.80 and capped a $90.80 exacta. West Point Thoroughbred's King Congie was $3.60 to show.

Stanley S. Moles bred the winning gray/roan colt in Florida. He sold for $39,000 at Ocala Breeders' Sale Company in April.

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