Successful Mission parlayed a ground-saving trip into the first grade stakes win of his career, resisting favored Voodoo Swinge in the final strides by a neck in the $125,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) on turf at Calder Race Course April 30 (VIDEO) .
Elvis Trujillo drove the 5-year-old Successful Appeal gelding to victory for Live Oak Plantation and trainer Edward Plesa Jr. Bred in Kentucky by Oakbrook Farm from the Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knowsthecode, Successful Mission registered his second win in three starts this year.
Successful Mission, making his debut on the Calder turf, was timed in 1:35.01 over a turf course rated "good."
Breaking from the rail, Successful Mission was prominent early while racing at the rail just behind the pacesetter Little Nick, who showed the way through fractions of :24.00, :48.49, and 1:11.94 with Orlando Bocachica aboard.
Successful Mission tracked the leader into the lane, angling to Little Nick's outside, and gradually wore his rival down in deep stretch. Voodoo Swinge, the 13-10 favorite in the field of seven, was forced five wide coming off the turn for Joe Bravo and was charging hard, but could not get past Successful Mission close to home.
“My horse was very aggressive early in the race," said Trujillo, who won for the third time in four races aboard Successful Mission. "We wanted to let the speed clear out in front of us and when I took back a little, he got racy. I was able to pick out good spots to get position down the backstretch and he fought hard in the stretch to hold off the favorite.
Little Nick held on well for third, just a half-length behind the runner-up. The late-running Feels All Right took fourth, 1 1/2 lengths farther back.
Mambo Meister, the defending Miami Mile winner and the 118-pound high weight, lacked a closing kick in his first start in nearly five months and finished sixth.
In his most recent start, Successful Mission faded to fifth after chasing the victorious front-runner Little Mike in the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park April 3. The dark bay has won seven of 16 lifetime starts while banking $287,643 with the winning purse of $75,950.
Plesa said Successful Mission, a $360,000 Keeneland September yearing in 2007, came to his barn from Live Oak in Ocala in mid-January.
"This was the third race in a three-race cycle," said Plesa while praising Trujillo for the well-timed win. "His first race was a dynamite race (a one-mile turf allowance win at Gulfstream), but then (he) got caught wide in a tougher race last time (Appleton). Everything went his way today. He’s a nice addition to the stable.
"He’ll go with my division at Monmouth (Park) for the summer. There really isn’t anything on the schedule for awhile.”
Sent off as the third choice, Successful Mission carried 117 pounds and paid $8.80, $4.40, and $3.20. Voodoo Swinge, favored off a fast-closing third in the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 19 for trainer Christophe Clement, returned $2.80 and $2.20 and rounded out a $23.40 exacta. The sprinter Little Nick, who led by 2 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole but could not hold on for trainer Anthony Quartarolo, was $6 to show.
Feels All Right nipped Black Scorpion and Mambo Meister for fourth, with Jackson Bend last in his turf debut. Dream Maestro scratched.