Run Time was the beneficiary of a perfectly timed ride from Tyler Gaffalione in the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes Dec.30 at Gulfstream Park, and the duo prevailed over grade 1 winner Bullards Alley by a head.
The two-mile turf race that honors the memory of the Hall of Fame trainer highlighted a program that included four other turf stakes—two $75,000 divisions of the Tropical Oaks (Division 1 won by Dream Awhile and Division 2 won by Ghostly Presence), the $75,000 Via Borghese Stakes (won by Daring Duchess), and the $75,000 Tropical Park Derby (won by Durocher). Durocher became the first black-type stakes winner for his sire, Niagara Causeway , who will stand for $2,500 in 2018 at Buck Pond Farm.
In the H. Allen Jerkens, Gaffalione—who was victorious in his only previous mount aboard Run Time—knew the winning formula for the Mike Maker trainee.
"I rode this horse at Kentucky Downs going a mile and a half the day he broke his maiden, so it was basically like the same thing as today," said Gaffalione, who scored an off-the-pace victory aboard the 4-year-old son of Gio Ponti at Kentucky Downs Sept. 6. "Just let him fall back and relax, and make one big run."
Gaffalione saved ground and rated his mount well off the a solid early pace set by Infobedad, a Neil Drysdale-trained Southern California-based marathoner who ran the first mile over a firm turf course in 1:43.70 under Joel Rosario. Bullard's Alley, the 6-5 favorite, stalked the pace under jockey Paco Lopez into the far turn the second time around.
Infinite Wisdom, the 3-1 co-second choice with Gold Shield, moved inside the pacesetter to gain the lead on the turn into the homestretch under Jose Ortiz. Gold Shield made a strong outside move to loom as a danger in mid-stretch, but was quickly collared by Bullards Alley. The favorite appeared to be on his way to victory when Run Time surged on the far outside with a rally that resulted in a narrow victory over the grade 1 winner.
"It was super to save all that ground. Fortunately we were good at the end," Maker said.
Run Time, who was coming off a victory in a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance race on the turf at Gulfstream Dec. 6 for Bloom Racing Stable and Allen Racing, ran the two miles in 3:23.97 on firm turf. He returned $22.20, $7.20, and $3.60, while Bullards Alley brought $3.20 and $2.40, and Gold Shield paid $2.80.
"The race set up perfect for me. My plan was to follow (Gold Shield), as he seemed to have a pretty tactical running line," Gaffalione said. "My horse relaxed beautifully and when I asked him to run, he really kicked it in.
Bullards Alley, who captured the Pattison Canadian International (G1T) at Woodbine in October and finished sixth for trainer Tim Glyshaw in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T), finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of Gold Shield.
"He ran well. At the end of the day, it might have been too much to come off a short layoff and run two miles. That's what cost him today," Glyshaw said. "Mike's horse was a little fresher. I have an opinion that, if we run that race again after an out, he probably doesn't catch us."
Maker is pondering two options for Run Time's next start, the Jan. 28 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3T) at Sam Houston Race Park or the Jan. 27 W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream.