Mordi's Miracle posted an upset in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream Park Nov. 9, but his three-length triumph could hardly be termed a miracle (VIDEO).
But if a phenomenon had occurred in the 1 1/16-mile feature of Saturday's eight-race $1 million Sunshine Millions Preview event, it would have been that a Todd Pletcher-trained horse was sent to post by the bettors at odds of 10-1.
Zayat Stables' homebred 4-year-old colt, whose trainer is the defending 10-time champion at Gulfstream, might have seemed overmatched in a quest for his initial stakes victory while competing against a field with multiple stakes winners Jackson Bend, Sr. Quisqueyano, and Cash Rules. However, the son of Lawyer Ron did have the benefit of Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado.
"We thought there'd be a couple of horses on the lead. We went really well up the backstretch," said Prado, the winner of 6,674 races. "When we turned for home he just kicked into gear and moved on. It was a good trip."
Souper Speedy , winner of three of his last four starts in New York at sprint distances, was sent to the lead around the first turn and along the backstretch, stalked by Sr. Quisqueyano, a two-time stakes winner at Gulfstream during the current meeting, Mordi's Miracle was positioned just behind the pacesetters while racing three-wide along the backstretch. Sr. Quisqueyano, ridden by Carlos Olivero, moved briefly to the lead leaving the backstretch but was quickly challenged by Mordi's Miracle.
Mordi's Miracle moved to the lead into the homestretch and drew off under confident handling by Prado. Souper Speedy, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Jose Lezcano, came back to finish second, a neck ahead of Sr. Quisqueyano. Cash Rules finished fourth, followed by Jackson Bend, Joshua's Comprise, and Red Hills.
Mordi's Miracle, who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.92, had finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Oct. 5 after breaking from the rail post position.
"Edgar gave him a perfect trip. We told him to warm him up good and to sit off the two speeds outside. I think this horse likes to be outside better," said Anthony Sciametta, assistant to Pletcher. "It was perfect. You couldn't ask for anything better. He improved off his last race. If he has his own way he runs. He got a perfect trip. It worked out."
Mordi's Miracle won for the third time in 13 starts.
The $150,000 Distaff Preview kicked off the $1 million event in Saturday's second race. My Pal Chrisy captured her third straight stakes since being privately purchased by Miller Racing, holding off a resurgent pacesetter Awesome Belle by three-quarters of a length. The Marty Wolfson-trained 1-5 favorite, who was stretching out around two turns after winning a pair of sprints, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.13 under Jonathan Gonzales.
"I still think she's better going short," Wolfson said. "She'll go in the (Sunshine Millions Jan. 18), the short race (Filly & Mare Sprint). She probably won't race until then. She's run three times so I'm going to give her a little time off. She's showing more speed. She used to come from way back going long. She laid close today, showing more speed."
Awesome Belle, the 2-1 second choice ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, finished 7 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Putyourdreamsaway and jockey Paco Lopez.
In the $125,000 Turf Preview, Bad Debt dominated six rivals to score by 6 1/2 lengths under jockey Joel Rosario. The Michael Trombetta-trained 6-year-old gelding stalked the early pace before easily moving to the lead on the far turn and drawing off to a convincing victory.
"I thought there would be two or three speed horses in the race. I sat behind them," Rosario said. "They looked like they were going a little fast, so I made my move and it was fun after that."
The 4-5 favorite ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:45.06 to win his 14th race in 46 lifetime starts. Blameshifter, the 2-1 second choice ridden by Jose Alvarez, closed from off the pace to finish second, a neck ahead of 46-1 outsider Triple Cross.
In the $125,000 Filly & Mare Turf Preview, Lone Stable's Parranda followed up her first career stakes victory last time out with a professional 1 3/4-length triumph under Jose Lezcano. The late-developing 4-year-old filly saved ground while tracking the pace along the rail before splitting horses at the top of the stretch and drawing away for another stakes score.
"She's come around in her last few races. I think the trip to Monmouth (over the summer) did her good. She came back and that last race was awesome and now she's repeated it," trainer Rodolfo Garcia said. "I'm surprised the last two races she's been much closer to the pace. Usually she's dead last and makes a move."
The 3-1 second betting choice, winner of the Our Dear Peggy Stakes at Gulfstream Sept. 28, ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:46.33. Pletcher-trained Silsita, the even-money favorite ridden by Rosario, finished second, a neck ahead of third-place finisher Millennia.
The $125,000 Juvenile Sprint went to Bolita Boyz for trainer Bill White following the disqualification of Wildcat Red in the 6 1/2-furlong test.
Unbeknownst to White, he needed a rider for Bolita Boyz after his scheduled jockey, Jeffrey Sanchez became ill following the prior race.
"What a carousel ride that was," White noted. "When they said, ‘Riders Up,’ that was the first time I knew I needed a rider. The field was already mounted. I had to unsaddle my horse and figure out who I wanted to ride my horse," White said. "And then to win the race on a disqualification. I’ve won a lot of races, but I haven’t been on a roller coaster like this one.”
White got Lopez to ride Bolita Boyz, the 6-1 fourth betting choice who closed from far back after encountering traffic on the turn, as well as having to alter course in mid-stretch when Wildcat Red drifted outside. Following an inquiry, the stewards determined that the actions of Wildcat Red were sufficient to require a disqualification of the 3-5 favorite, who had prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths.
Wildcat Red, ridden by Edgard Zayas, was placed second ahead of third-place finisher Pachanga Party.
Lopez, who went on to ride three winners Saturday, was the fortunate recipient of a winning mount in the Juvenile Sprint.
"I feel sorry for Jeffrey Sanchez. I picked up the mount in the jock’s room," Lopez said. "Mr. White told me there was a lot of speed in the race and to take him back and make one run. Down the stretch (Wildcat Red) went out and I tried to go inside."
The victory was the third straight for Bolita Boyz, a son of Act of Duty owned by GZS Stables.
In the $125,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint, Puddifoot surged in the stretch to draw away to victory by a commanding six lengths, giving Lopez his second win of the Sunshine Millions Preview program.
Trained by Eddie Plesa, the 3-2 favorite in a field of 14 2-year-old fillies had previously captured her debut by nearly five lengths at Monmouth Park Sept. 28.
Owned by Trilogy Stable, EICO Stable and Laurie Plesa, the daughter of Red Giant ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.45. Sunset Silhouette, a 54-1 shot ridden by Manoel Cruz, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of pacesetter Secret Kitten, the 8-5 second choice.
The Sunshine Millions Preview card for Florida-breds replaced the Florida Million program, previously held at Calder Casino & Race Course, this year,