By Jerry Bossert
Lubash became a millionaire after taking the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) from Gulfstream Park West by a half-length over Reporting Star on turf rated good Nov. 22 (VIDEO).
Racing in fifth after three-quarters went in 1:14.74, Lubash, the 17-10 favorite, was angled off the rail by jockey Brice Blanc turning for home, taking command in deep stretch to give the 7-year-old his 12th win from 39 starts, all for trainer Christophe Clement. The New York-bred son of Freud surpassed the milestone in earnings for owner/breeder Aliyuee Ben J Stables.
"I had the perfect post (2)," Blanc said. "The two speed horses were inside and outside of me at the break. Actually, he broke really sharp and kind of put me in a really good spot. Then, like Christophe said, I just kind of bide my time and see how soft the ground will be. He told me to just be patient because he's got a great turn of foot, so just try to follow a good path. Pretty much, that's how it came up.
"I got around the turn and I was riding between horses," Blanc added. "I followed a couple of the horses in front of me and eased out, and when I straightened away he just kicked for me right away."
Reporting Star set the pace from the start, opening up a six-length after an opening quarter mile of :24.24, putting away a challenge from Grand Tito, before lasting to be second best in the nine-horse field. Grand Tito finished third and was followed by Lochte, Edge of Reality, Karibu Gardens, Dreams Cut Short, Rapscallion, and Unbridled Command.
The Tropical Turf Handicap was just the second graded stakes score for Lubash, along with a victory in the 2013 Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park.
It was the first time that Lubash raced at Gulfstream Park West, the former Calder Race Course, and just the fourth time he raced outside the New York Racing Association circuit. He won for the first time away from the three NYRA tracks—Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont, and Saratoga Race Course.
The $59,520 winner's share up Lubash's career earnings to $1,010,599. It capped a strong year for Lubash, who won four of seven starts in 2014 and finished second in his three losses.
"His last race was so good (when second in the Oct. 18 Mohawk), I decided to come here for the stake before he is turned out," Clement said. "He's a fun horse because he really, really wants to win. He always runs a good race and makes me look good. I like that."
Besides the Tropical Turf, Lubash also took the $122,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds Sept. 14.
Lubash, out of the Cure the Blues mare Nasty Cure, returned $5.40 to win while covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.72. He returned $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show. Reporting Star paid $6.20 to place and $4.40 to show, while Grand Tito returned $7.20 to show.
Aliyuee Ben J Stable plans to run Lubash next year at the age of 8.
"But he's a young 8," Clement said. "I trained a horse for Mrs. (Charlotte) Weber named Revved Up who was a stakes winner at 10. I think the way we campaign, we look after them, and obviously he's very sound. It's fine."
By Jerry Bossert