Mr. Amore Stable's Ribo Bobo continued his winning ways Jan. 18 in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park, while Ullapool went wire-to-wire against fillies and mares in the counterpart.
Fresh off a dominant Dec. 7 victory in the Claiming Crown Express, the 6-year-old Louis Quatorze gelding made short work of eight other Florida-bred contenders in the six-furlong sprint after stalking the pace under Paco Lopez as Star Harbour showed the way.
After a quarter in :22.39, Star Harbour found Ribo Bobo breathing down his neck for a :44.93 half. The Jason Servis trainee pulled on even terms outside, then went five eighths in :56.61 while increasing his advantage to 1 3/4 lengths while finishing on the fast track in 1:09.16 (VIDEO).
"Paco wanted to take him off the pace today," Servis said. "Honestly, I'd rather see that, but he always breaks so good. This way he can conserve some energy. We're going to have some fun this year."
According to Ron Lombardi, owner of Mr. Amore Stable, Ribo Bobo could take a big step up next time out.
"We did nominate him to Dubai along with Tightend Touchdown," the owner said. "We'll see. We'll evaluate him after this race and get together. That's my dream."
Ribo Bobo returned $4.40, $3.40, and $2.60 while favored at 6-5, followed by Happy My Way at $5.20 and $3.80. Star Harbour held on to show with a $3.20 payoff, as Bear Tough Tiger, Grande Shores, Black Diamond Cat, Close It Out, Fort Loudon, and Apriority completed the order of finish.
Bred by Rapputi Stables in Florida out of the Private Terms mare Private Prom Party, Ribo Bobo was claimed for $6,250 out of a Gulfstream victory by Servis and Mr. Amore Stable last March. He won 10 times in 11 starts last year, a winning streak that includes the Icecapade Stakes at Monmouth Park in September and the Maryland Million Sprint Oct. 19 at Laurel Park. His career record stands at 16-5-3 from 49 starts, with earnings of $659,655.
The $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint was virtually decided one jump out of the starting gate. When usually speedy R Free Roll broke awkwardly and last, Ullapool and jockey Jose Lezcano had their own way on an unpressured lead and were never seriously threatened thereafter (VIDEO).
Ullapool set all the fractions in the six-furlong event for Florida-bred fillies and mares before pulling away to a 1 1/4-length victory, the 5-year-old mare's third straight frontrunning score since coming off a year layoff.
"We expected a big effort. She's good right now," trainer Eddie Kenneally said. "We really thought she'd run a big race. We were happy with the way she came into the race."
R Free Roll, who was expected to be a serious pace factor, raced far back as Ullapool posted fractions of :22.48, :45.45 and :57.37 into the stretch. My Pal Chrisy, the 7-5 favorite ridden by Paco Lopez, made a bid in the stretch but was no match for the free-running pacesetter. Salamera finished third another 2 1/2 lengths back.
R Free Roll made a wide run under Kendrick Carmouche but finished a distant fourth. Classic Point and Ladyfromhavana completed the order of finish. Sweet N Discreet scratched to run in—and win—the Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff.
Ullapool, owned by Kenneally and Marc Detampel, ran six furlongs in 1:10.41 on a fast track in her first start since winning the Dec. 7 Garland of Roses Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack. She returned $6.40, $3.20, and $2.60 while My Pal Chrisy paid $2.80 and $2.20 with Salamera bringing $2.80.
"She broke good and it helped me a little bit when (R Free Roll) didn't break so good. That way it was a little better pace, instead of having to go (the first quarter) in 21 (seconds) or something like that," Lezcano said. "When I really asked her, she gave me a good run. She's a very nice filly. She does whatever it takes to win. When I look around and saw in the corner of my eye the other horse (My Pal Chrisy) coming, she picked it up again."
Kenneally claimed Ullapool for $25,000 back on May 24, 2012.
"She had run against some class horses and ran OK against some class horses. We felt there was an avenue for the filly to hopefully be an allowance filly at the time, and as it turned out, she was," Kenneally said. "As she's continued to mature, develop and improve. She's certainly a quality filly to have."
The daughter of Langfuhr had won twice in four starts for her new connections before being sidelined.
"She had a lung issue and she had a little pneumonia, but she's come back good from that," said Kenneally, whose filly has won back-to-back stakes since her return. "We had to give her a year off; well, she was on the shelf for eight months."
Kenneally said he had no set schedule for Ullapool.
"We'll look at all the options across the country," he said. "We're in no rush."