Gulfstream Park track announcer Larry Collmus described it best: “It’s a match race at the eighth-pole.”
Tuna Stable and Off the Hook’s Pashito The Che (jockey Eibar Coa) grabbed the early lead in the Sprint and fired off fractions of :21.46 for the opening quarter-mile and :43.23 for the half-mile. Gilbert Campbell’s This Ones For Phil (John Velazquez) raced alongside the leader from the final turn home, and got his nose up at the wire.
The time for six furlongs on a fast track was a rapid 1:08.81.
Drift King checked in third, 10 1/2 lengths behind Pashito The Che. This Ones For Phil paid $4 to win as the even-money favorite; Pashito The Che was the second choice.
This Ones For Phil, a Richard Dutrow trainee who won last year’s Sunshine Millions Sprint—then called the Dash—hadn’t raced since Nov. 28 at Laurel Park in Maryland. The 4-year-old Florida-bred Untuttable gelding, out of Heaven's Gate, by Septieme Ciel, won that race and was shipped to Gulfstream to prepare for a winter campaign.
“It was a great horse race," Dutrow said. "I’m glad everybody got to see it, and I’m glad we were able to win it. When he won here last year (in the Sunshine Millions Dash), it was his first start for us, so we didn’t know what to expect, but he has been breezing like clockwork and we expected him to run well today.
"He had chips removed from his knees (after finishing fifth in grade I Woody Stephens at Belmont Park June 6) and is a better horse for it. We considered running him in the (grade I) Cigar Mile last fall, but decided to go with the easier allowance race at Laurel looking ahead to this year.”
Pashito The Che, whose record is now six wins, five seconds, and a third in 13 starts, won four stakes, including the $250,000 Gallant Bob at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, in 2009 for trainer Scott Lake. The 4-year-old Florida-bred Flatter colt has been training at Delaware Park, and shipped to South Florida for the Millions.