Ridden by Chuck Lopez, the 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Put It Back disposed of pacesetting Famous Patriot mid-stetch and gradually drew away from Dream Maestro to win his first graded race. The $90,000 winning purse gives Hey Byrn $140,000 in graded earnings, keeping alive the possibility that Hey Byrn could qualify for a berth in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Trainer Edward Plesa said that Hey Byrn's owner would like to run if they qualify.
"He did what he had to do today, winning a graded stakes, but now it’s out of our hands,” Plesa said of making the Derby field.
At 1 3/16 miles, Hey Byrn won the longest Derby prep of the spring in the Holy Bull. The bay colt was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby (gr. I) two weeks ago, 15 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Big Brown, the likely Derby favorite.
Even-money pick Hey Byrn broke well in the seven-horse Holy Bull and Lopez took hold as they tracked a dawdling pace established by Famous Patriot, who milked a :25.37 opening quarter-mile, :50.38 for the half, and 1:14.99 for three-quarters. Hey Byrn increased the pressure coming into the stretch and eventually took over as Dream Maestro went for an outside run to challenge. Hey Byrn led by a length at the eighth pole and edged away from that point under some pressure. The final time was 1:58.14 on a fast track.
"I hadn’t planned on being so close so early, but they were walking," Lopez said. "I asked my mount to move near the turn where I knew I had (Famous Patriot) measured, but that horse on the outside (Dream Maestro) surprised me. Once I put the first one away, here came another. But I had good position and, although it got a little sticky in the lane, with a little persuasion, we got through.”
Hey Byrn won for the third time at the current Gulfstream meeting. His prior two wins, over allowance foes, were by a combined margin of more than 20 lengths. His fourth victory in eight lifetime starts with two seconds pushed his earnings to $266,000.
The late Arthur I. Appleton bred Hey Byrn, who is out of the Skip Trial mare Restraining Order. He sold for $160,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
The winner paid $4, $3, and $2.20. Dream Maestro, a maiden winner at 1 1/8 miles in his last start for trainer William Kaplan, returned $4.80 and $2.80. Famous Patriot, also an impressive maiden winner at nine furlongs last time out, held on for third, three parts of a length behind the runner-up, and paid $2.20. The $2 exacta was worth $16.
It was a neck to Web Gem in fourth. Chief Bear, Nathan Ridge and Bipolar Express followed.