Favored at 6-5 for his first start since Nov. 29, Waterford Stable's Summer Front ran down pacesetter Tetradrachm in the final sixteenth to win the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
The 5-year-old son of War Front stalked a leisurely tempo set by Tetradrachm, who showed the way unchallenged in the 1 1/16-mile turf event through a quarter in :25.19 and a half in :49 flat followed by Howe Great and Hierro. The leader continued through three-quarters in 1:12.32, while jockey Joe Bravo had Summer Front covered up in fourth on the rail.
That position required running room as the field turned for home, and a confident Bravo found it in the two path. He set Summer Front down for the drive and the Christophe Clement trainee responded with a good kick, closing the gap from a mile in 1:36.15 to catch Tetradrachm by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:44.24 on a course labeled firm. Nikki's Sandcastle completed the tri.
"Turning for home, we were looking for place to turn him loose," Bravo said. "When we found a seam, he just exploded. There wasn't a lot of pace in the race, but the thing about Summer Front is that he needs to turn off behind horses. When he sees daylight, he is just a monster when he turns for home. Look what he did today, that was a really special move to overcome such a slow pace. It isn't really about the horses he was in against. It was the pace. Any horse that goes that slow is going to be hard to catch."
"If you look at his races, he gets in trouble," Clement remarked. "You have to ride him that way, covered up, wait and make one run. He's got a great turn of foot, as you can see. Billy Mott's horse (Tetradrachm) ran a great race, and he really opened up at the quarter pole. I knew it would take a really good horse to get him, and he's a really good horse."
The victory was the first for Summer Front since he took the Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park last August, that race won off the layup after an April 20 victory in the Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course. He followed the Cliff Hanger with a seventh in the off-turf edition of the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) run on Polytrack at Keeneland in October, and came back Nov. 29 to finish a game second by a nose to Silentio in the Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park.
The Fort Lauderdale was the first grade II win for Summer Front, who was bred in Kentucky by Graceville Breeding out of the El Prado mare Rose of Summer. In 2012 he won the Duluth Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park; he also took the Dania Beach at Gulfstream in 2011 after winning the King Cugat at Aqueduct Racetrack off his maiden score.
Clement said the Feb. 8 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. IIT) or the Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita on March 8 could be a target for Summer Front, a $475,000 purchase from Niall Brennan's consignment at the 2011 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training. Selected by bloodstock agent Steven Young, he currently has an 8-2-3 record from 16 starts with earnings of $704,140.
"I like the Gulfstream race because he trains very well at Payson and it's easy for me to come here," Clement said. "I also like the Kilroe Mile because at a mile you usually get a really strong pace, and when you've got a good turn of foot it's nice."
Summer Front returned $4.40, $2.80, and $2.40 while Tetradrachm paid $4.60 and $3.20. Nikki's Sandcastle brought $4.40 as Slumber, Utley, Hierro, Howe Great, and 2013 Fort Lauderdale upsetter Mucho Mas Macho completed the order of finish. Csaba and Suns Out Guns Out, both entered for the main track only, scratched.