Joseph Witek’s homebred Joes Blazing Aaron, who wired a field of $50,000 claimers on Feb. 17, led from gate-to-wire once again when scoring the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by 1 3/4 lengths March 12 at Gulfstream Park at odds of 11-1.
Joes Blazing Aaron, a 3-year-old son of Graeme Hall trained by Allen Hunter Jr., covered 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf course in 1:47.85 under Orlando Bocachica. Favored Queen'splatekitten was a head in front of third-place finisher Newsdad.
As he did in the Feb. 17 claimer when sent off at 73-1 in his turf debut at Gulfstream, Joes Blazing Aaron went straight to the front and posted easy fractions of :24.06, :49.22, 1:13.48, and 1:36.55 while uncontested on the lead. Ari C and Master Dunker were his closest challengers, but the chestnut gelding still had a 2 1/2-length advantage at the top of the lane. He opened up his lead in the final furlong and was never seriously challenged in his impressive stakes debut.
Bred in Kentucky and out of the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Blaze, Joes Blazing Aaron won for the third time in nine starts. Based at Calder for Hunter, he did not finish his Jan. 12 season debut on the Gulfstream dirt after being bumped hard entering the stretch and having to be eased to the wire.
“We were hoping he wouldn’t get any respect and the plan was to go to the lead," Hunter said. "When no one went with him, I was pretty confident he’d go on just like he did last time.
"The first foal of the dam of this horse I think was stakes-placed in France, so we always planned to give him a chance on turf at some point. There are lots of opportunities for him now and we’ll probably look at the Transylvania (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland next (April 8).”
With the win, Joes Blazing Aaron has now banked $123,864.
The winner paid $25.40, $12.80, and $5.80. The exacta (3-5) returned $149.20 and the trifecta (3-5-6) was worth $351.30 for $1.
Queen'splatekitten had won his last two starts in impressive fashion, but the closer may have been compromised by a slow pace in the Palm Beach.
“I might have been a little closer to the pace than I thought I was going to be," said jockey John Velazquez. "He’s the kind of horse that takes a while to get going and the slow pace hurt him today.”