A nostril separated the top two finishers in Saturday's $259,500 Susan's Girl Stakes (VIDEO), the second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series' filly division at Gulfstream Park, and it was a 41-1 long shot that got the nod.
The shocking win by Holywell in the Susan's Girl came a race after Twotwentyfive A knocked off his stablemate, 2-5 favorite Sing Praises, by a neck in the $252,000 Affirmed Stakes (VIDEO) male division of the FSS.
Tracy Pinchin's homebred Holywell made up for a poor showing in the series first leg, the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes Aug. 9. Trainer Jose Pinchin had expected his filly to put in a strong performance that day, but those hopes were squashed when Holywell encountered traffic trouble at the race's start.
She was bumped and shuffled back immediately after breaking from the gate, and she was never able to make up the lost ground. She finished sixth, 17 lengths behind that day's winner, Leap Year Luck.
"She ran really good (today)," Jose Pinchin said. "Her last race, I expected her to run good, but she was interfered with. When she came out of the gate, she was turned (sideways). She got wiped out—almost got turned around."
On Saturday, Holywell turned the tables on Leap Year Luck, the 5-2 favorite who had to settle for third, three-quarters of a length behind the winner and runner-up Moment of Delight. The latter filly impressed in her second career start and stakes debut, closing from almost six lengths off the pace to miss by a whisker.
"I wasn't sure (if Holywell had won the photo)," Pinchin said. "I've won two close races recently; last week I won one by a big lip and now this one by a small lip. That's just how it goes sometimes."
In contrast to her previous effort, Holywell broke well for jockey Orlando Bocachica and settled behind early pacesetter I'm a Good Looker. She took the lead at the quarter pole and carried it into the stretch, separating herself from the field by two lengths. When Moment of Delight closed in, she gamely held on. The winning time was 1:28.62 on a fast track.
The next objective will be the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Stakes, worth $350,000, on Oct. 4. The race is the final leg of the 2014 Florida Sire Stakes series.
Holywell paid a healthy $85.60, $35, and $12.20 across the board, with Moment of Delight returning $7.80 and $4.60 to place, and Leap Year Luck paying $3.20 to show.
In the Affirmed Stakes, Twotwentyfive A produced a late surge to overtake stablemate Sing Praises by a neck, giving breeder/owner Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold their respective 15th Florida Sire Stakes successes.
"You can't ask for a better picture than that--it's all polka dots," said Jacks or Better Farm's Fred Brei, whose purple and gold dots silks were worn by both winning jockey Abdiel Jaen and runner-up Ramsey Zimmerman. Twotwentyfive A scored at odds of 9-2.
Twotwentyfive A's late-charging victory in the seven-furlong Affirmed, accomplished in 1:26.69, propelled Gold out of a tie with the late and legendary Frank Gomez to become the winningest FSS trainer.
"It's nice. It's notable, and we beat a good man, may he rest in peace," Gold said. "Someone will come and get me, but I hope I'm not done yet."
The Affirmed provided the third straight one-two finish in the FSS this season for Jacks or Better and Gold, who teamed to sweep the exacta in both the $100,000 Dr. Fager and $100,000 Desert Vixen Aug. 9.
Pacesetting Sing Praises, who won the Dr. Fager, looked well on his way to capturing his second straight FSS event Saturday, leading by three lengths in the stretch. Twotwentyfive A, who sat out the series' first leg, suddenly loomed as a most dangerous threat nearing the finish line.
With one late surge, Twotwentyfive A snatched victory away from the tiring Sing Praises by a neck. Sing Praises finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of Jaiden's Best and jockey Eduardo Nunez in third.
Twotwentyfive A, who was sent to the starting gate as the third betting choice, brought little experience into the Affirmed, having captured an Aug. 3 maiden race in his debut by 3 3/4 lengths going away.
"I liked the way he ran in his debut, and he has been working really good. I had a lot of faith in him," Jaen said. "The last hundred meters, I saw the other horse (Sing Praises), and it looked like he was getting tired. That's when I thought I'd get there."
Gold watched the final yards with somewhat mixed emotions.
"You just watch. I cheer for both of them. A dead-heat would have been nice," said Gold, who also saddled Dr. Fager runner-up Of Course for a fifth-place finish in the Affirmed. "You just watch and you're happy and sad at the same time."
Gold said both Twotwentyfive A and Sing Praises were likely to return in the Florida Sire Stakes final, the $350,000 In Reality, at Gulfstream Oct.4.