Say Florida Sandy, ridden by Joe Bravo, captures the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct Saturday.

Say Florida Sandy, ridden by Joe Bravo, captures the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct Saturday.

Associated Press / NYRA / Adam Coglianese

Say Florida Sandy Becomes Two-Time Gravesend Winner

Say Florida Sandy rallied from off the pace on the inner dirt track at Aqueduct and held late-closers Liberty Gold and Lake Pontchartrain at bay to win Saturday's $85,750 Gravesend Handicap (gr. III) for the second time in his career. Say Florida Sandy won the 1998 Gravesend by a neck over Esteemed Friend. The 6-year-old earned $51,450 for his 22nd career win from 64 starts.

Under jockey Joe Bravo, Say Florida Sandy sat just off a six-horse duel for the early lead, racing in seventh place after an opening quarter-mile run in :22.78. Opening Story gained a head advantage over Balancethebudget as those two edged away from the the other early speed, racing the half in :45.85. At that point Say Florida Sandy had moved ahead of Mister Tricky and Brutally Frank but remained about three lengths behind the leaders. Say Florida Sandy made up those three lengths while six-wide during the next furlong, which was run in :11.85 seconds, and led by 2 1/2 lengths over Liberty Gold with a furlong to run. Liberty Gold edged into Say Florida Sandy's lead approaching the finish line but was never a threat. Say Florida Sandy completed the six furlongs in 1:09.80 on a fast track and won by 1 3/4 lengths at the wire. Lake Pontchartrain finished third, followed by Exciting Story, Kashatreya, Jab, Balancethebudget, Unreal Madness, Brutally Frank, Appealing Danger, and Mister Tricky.

Say Florida Sandy (Personal Flag--Lolli Lucka Lolli, by Sweet Candy) was bred in New York by Sanford Bacon and is trained by Juan Serey for owner John Rotella. The win is the fifth on the year for the 6-year-old from 15 starts. Say Florida Sandy has won 13 stakes races -- seven in open company -- during his five-year career. The winner's share of the purse brings his career bankroll to $1,157,124.

"This is a Juan Serey special," said Bravo. "This horse is an old campaigner that likes to win races, and once I asked him, he took off. Juan had him ready today."

Sent off at just under 7-1, Say Florida Sandy returned $15.40, $7.20 and $5.40. Liberty Gold paid $8.30 and $7.10 and completed an exacta worth $104. Lake Pontchartrain was worth $7.20 to show. (Chart, Equibase)