Tommy Roberts Racing Stable's Early Entry won the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes at Jan. 21 Gulfstream Park off a 11-month layoff when he put a half-length over front-running Delta Bluesman at the wire.
In the six-furlong test for Florida breds over the main track, favored Delta Bluesman and Early Entry jumped out for the lead, but it was Delta Bluesman who took control as Early Entry moved back to stalk from second.
The 7-year-old grey gelding set quick fractions of :21.98 and :44.49 through a half-mile, but Early Entry, under urging from jockey Paco Lopez, moved up again to challenge him going into the stretch. With a driving finish, the Kathleen O'Connell-trained Early Entry finally got up over Delta Bluesman in deep stretch to hit the wire first. The final time was 1:09.50.
"He had a few problems and the owner's good about giving horses the time that they need. When they come back sometimes they get sick or have a foot issue. It wasn’t as though I had this race targeted to come back," O'Connell said. "He was sharp. He was up to the task. He showed up today.
"We're just going to enjoy this for a while. He's a seven-(furlong) specialist. He is what he is and we're satisfied with that."
Early Entry's last race came in February, in the Rail Splitter Stakes at Gulfstream, where he also defeated Delta Bluesman by three lengths. Before Saturday's race, he had two sharp works this month, including a five-furlong bullet in 1:01 flat at Tampa Bay Downs.
Bred in Florida by Kathryn Standard, the 6-year-old horse was sold for $5,700 to Steve Tucker from the TdM Sales consignment at the 2011 Ocala Breeders' Sales Company fall mixed sale. The chestnut was a $32,000 RNA at the next year's OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale.
After quick fractions of :22.15 and :44.99 through a half-mile, Flutterby faded and Mia Torri took the lead coming out of the turn. You Bought Her made a late surge from fourth but couldn't get by Mia Torri, who hit the wire in a final time of 1:10.32 for trainer Jorge Navarro.
Rontos Lilly took the early lead in the six-horse field and set fractions of :24.54, :49.07, and 1:13.22 through six furlongs. Second-choice Frosty Friday raced off the pace in second, with odds-on favorite Family Meeting closely tracking behind in third.
Through the far turn, Frosty Friday inched forward to take the lead, and jockey Jose Lezcano asked Family Meeting to move up around the frontrunners on the outside. After a tough stretch battle, it was the Tom Proctor trainee who prevailed over Frosty Friday, stopping the clock in 1:43.18 for 1 1/16 miles.
Bred in Florida by her owner, the 4-year-old filly is by Sky Mesa and out of Family Plan (Repriced).