From Gulfstream Park
Bea Oxenberg’s 3-year-old Hey Byrn reaffirmed his credentials as a potential Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender March 2 at Gulfstream Park when he drew off to win a 1 1/8-mile allowance race by six lengths under jockey Edgar Prado.
Trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., Hey Byrn, a 2-1 close second choice to the favored Alaazo in the field of six, stalked the pace through rather slow early fractions, including :50.17 for the first half-mile, before taking command in mid-stretch. ZWP Stable’s 23-1 longshot Wonder Mon rallied for second, three-quarters of a length before Starlight Stable and partners’ Sleuse in third. The latter set the pace to the upper stretch.
Hey Byrn was purchased for $160,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old sales in Ocala, and the son of Put It Back went into the March 2 race after a 14½-length victory at a mile at Gulfstream Feb. 10. It was his first start since finishing fourth in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Race Course Sept. 22.
“I’m really pleased with the way this horse has come around this year,” Plesa said from Ocala. “We had to stop on him last year with a little blood infection. It’s very special to have a good one like this for Mrs. Oxenberg, who named him after her late husband (Bernie). It’s on to the Florida Derby (gr. I, Mar. 29) from here, although we’ll need to find another rider, because Edgar will be riding in Dubai that day.”
Hey Byrn won once and finished second twice last year before the Foolish Pleasure.
“The sire has been getting some very nice horses the last few years,” Plesa said. “I think this is the most anyone had paid for one.”
A big disappointment in the race was Zayat Stable’s Alaazo, second choice for trainer Bill Mott after an impressive allowance victory on the track and distance in his last start Feb. 4. The son of A.P. Indy made a bid nearing the far turn but failed to sustain his run before flattening out to finish last.
Hey Byrn was timed in 1:52:78 on a fast track that appeared to be playing on the dull side.