G P Fleet, Jose Martinez Jr. aboard, wins the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap.

G P Fleet, Jose Martinez Jr. aboard, wins the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Lou Hodges, Jr

G P Fleet Stops Honor In War at Fair Grounds

(from Fair Grounds report)
G P Fleet defeated a solid field of turf horses in the $125,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Ridden by Jose Martinez Jr. for trainer Steven Flint, G P Fleet ($11) won for the fourth time in his last five starts, a streak interrupted only by an 11th-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf last month at Santa Anita Park.

G P Fleet was able to dispose of a stubborn Warleigh in midstretch and kicked on strongly along the inside, turning back the hard-charging Honor In War to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:53.79 for the 1 1/8-mile event on the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Rapid Proof finished well to take the show spot, a neck back from Honor In War and 1 3/4 lengths in front of the late-closing America Alive in the field of nine older horses.

With no real speed signed up, G P Fleet joined 5-2 favorite Warleigh on the front end down the backstretch and around the far turn through six furlongs in a very modest 1:17.01. They bunched up as they straightened for home, with Honor In War putting in the boldest move on the outside under jockey James Graham. But they couldn't get to G P Fleet.

"Last time he did not like the turf course in California, but today he was himself," said Martinez of G P Fleet, whose three-race win streak before the Sunshine Millions included a victory in the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) in November at Churchill Downs. "With the slow pace, I made a decision to go, and he allowed himself to dictate the pace because he is so versatile. He is a push-button horse."

The victory gave Flint confidence in his 5-year-old turf star for the Muniz Memorial (gr. IIT), a $500,000 event at the same 1 1/8-mile distance on March 19.

G P Fleet boosted his career earnings to $432,504 for owners Richard Bertram and Elaine Klein, who claimed the Florida-bred son of Northern Afleet for $80,000 at Churchill Downs in the summer of 2003.

(Chart, Equibase)