Trained by Eduardo Caramori and ridden by Leandro Goncalves at 118 pounds, Berlino Di Tiger scored his first win in three tries in the United States. Bred in Brazil, the 5-year-old horse by Tiger Heart out of the Torrential mare Rainha Da Bateria had won seven races in his native country before joining the Caramori barn earlier this year.
Berlino Di Tiger was timed in :57.01 for five furlongs over a turf course rated "good" under a steady rainfall at Churchill Downs.
Goncalves gunned Berlino Di Tiger to the front from post 7, but the winner had to fight it out early with Southern Dude through fractions of :21.85 for the opening quarter-mile and :44.55 for the half-mile. The top two had roughly eight lengths on Regally Ready in third and 2009 winner Chamberlain Bridge in fourth.
Berlino Di Tiger took a short lead from Southern Dude in mid-stretch. But the only horse making up any ground at that point was 9-year-old Chamberlain Bridge, who surged late to just fall short in the 50th start of his career. Favored Icon Ike never threatened and checked in seventh of eight in the Turf Sprint.
"He was a champion in Brazil, and we were real disappointed in his first couple of races (in the U.S.)," said Caramori, who is based at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington. "The thing is, he was running straight in Brazil, never turning. We knew we were going to have a problem; in his first race he wasn't ready for the turn and didn't negotiate it very well.
"The second time we tried to rate him and it was even worse; he displaced (his palate). Today we took the tongue tie off. Sometimes horses just need a few races to adapt to the races in America."
Goncalves said Caramori told him to ride Berlino Di Tiger like he had been ridden in Brazil: "Just see it, let him get comfortable, don't fight him. And it worked out pretty good."
Miguel Mena, who rode the game Chamberlain Bridge, said he just ran out of room. "One more jump," Mena said. "He ran great; he had a nice trip. He just didn't get there."
Berlino Di Tiger, bred by Haras Curitibano, was a group I winner in Brazil and is a five-furlong grass specialist. He paid $24.40, $12.80, and $6.80. Chamberlain Bridge paid $9 and $5, while Southern Dude, a length behind the second-place finisher, paid $3.80. Regally Ready finished fourth, followed by Havelock, Cactus Son, Icon Ike, and Ghost is Clear.
The winner earned $83,144 to boost his career earnings to $212,212 on a record of eight wins and two thirds in 12 starts. He finished sixth in the Gulfstream Turf Sprint in February in his first U.S. start, and then finished next to last in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland before the Turf Sprint.
Caramori said Berlino Di Tiger could race next in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico Race Course May 17.