Splendid Blended, Manol Cruz aboard, takes the Shirley Jones BC 'Cap at Gulfstream Park.

Splendid Blended, Manol Cruz aboard, takes the Shirley Jones BC 'Cap at Gulfstream Park.


Splendid Blended is Old Self in Shirley Jones

Peter Vegso's 4-year-old Florida homebred filly Splendid Blended, twice a grade I winner, was the class of the field in Saturday's $187,000 Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. She did nothing to dispel that notion as she drew clear for a 3 1/4-length victory over Beautiful Bets.

Ridden for the first time by Manoel Cruz, Splendid Blended was away quickly in a duel for the lead early in the seven-furlong test, and edged away as she pleased in the upper stretch as the 3-1 second choice in the field of 10 fillies and mares. The final time was 1:21 3/5, three-fifths of a second off the track record.

"She broke out of the gate really well, and I had a very good feeling about her - she felt confident all the way," Cruz said. "I relaxed her good and, when I asked her to go, she took off again."

Injustice finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up. In the Gold, the 2-1 choice, checked in eighth.

Injustice, pressured from the outset on her outside by Splendid Blended, led through early splits of :22 3/5 and :45, before the winning filly took the lead under urging in the stretch.

Trained this year by Bill Mott, Splendid Blended won the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park July 3 for trainer Neil Drysdale, but her connections considered retiring her. Sent to Mott for a comeback attempt, she finished sixth in the Hurricane Bertie Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Feb. 18 in her first start since the Vanity.

Splendid Blended paid $8, $4.40, and $4. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song has won five of eight starts and earned $639,900.

Beautiful Bets, ridden by Mark Guidry, returned $8.60 and $4.80, and Injustice, with Rene Douglas aboard, paid $4.60 to show.

Givememore finished fourth, followed by So Much More, Pool Land, Toll Taker, In the Gold, Johns Place, and Menifeeque. Malibu Mint scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)