September 26, 2023

Lopez scores Claiming Crown triple at Gulfstream Park

Flowers for Lisa's 16-1 upset of the Jewel crowned a three-win day for jockey Paco Lopez (Photo courtesy Lauren King/Coglianese Photography)

About an hour after sending out Sharp Azteca to dominate Aqueduct’s Cigar Mile (G1), trainer Jorge Navarro landed Saturday’s $196,000 Claiming Crown Jewel on opening day at Gulfstream Park, courtesy of 16-1 longshot Flowers for Lisa.

Jockey Paco Lopez, who won three Claiming Crown races on the day, sent Flowers for Lisa straight to the front from post 12, and the Flying P Stable colorbearer held sway through 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.76 on the fast track. Flashy Jewel, second at every call, just held that spot from Diamond Bachelor by a head.

Martini Glass, runner-up to Songbird in the Delaware H. (G1) and second in the Spinster (G1) last out, successfully reverted to turf in the $121,250 Claiming Crown Tiara. Also ridden by Lopez, the 2-1 chance came out on top in a photo with Peru, the pair a length clear of 8-5 favorite Starship Jubilee. The winner, owned by Vince Campanella and the Nation’s Racing Stable of trainer Keith Nations, was timed in 1:46.65 for 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Mike Maker scored with the 7-1 Special Ops in the $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald over the same course and distance. Produced under a well-timed Julien Leparoux ride, the Skychai Racing runner stopped the timer in 1:50.41.

Onetime Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) candidate Pay Any Price scampered clear early in the $107,800 Canterbury, but the 1-2 favorite had to keep finding more for Edgard Zayas to prevail by a half-length. Owned by Matties Racing Stable and Averill Racing, the Ralph Ziadie charge clocked :56.49 for five grassy furlongs off the five-month layoff.

The Claiming Crown events began with the $110,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at a mile, where Golden Gate shipper Mended extended her winning spree to 10. Trained by John Martin for Troy and Maritza Onorato, the even-money favorite wired them by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:36.42. Regular rider Ricardo Gonzalez made the trip.

Michelle Winters’ First Growth pounced from just off the pace in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Express, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.61 with Gerardo Corrales. The ThistleDown and Mahoning Valley veteran, off at odds of 9-2, is conditioned by Odin Londino Jr.

The $108,900 Distaff Dash on turf went to 8-5 favorite Blue Bahia from the Jason Servis barn. Chasing the pace before driving clear for Lopez, the Dennis Drazin homebred covered five furlongs in :56.89.

Stephen Derany and trainer John Rigattieri’s Twocubanbrothersu, who summered at Delaware Park, posted a front-running victory in the $108,900 Iron Horse. Frequent partner Daniel Centeno steered the 4-1 chance through 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.22.

There was one winner from farther back on the dirt, as Moshe Mark’s Cautious Giant closed from as many as six lengths adrift with Emisael Jaramillo in the $110,000 Rapid Transit. The 9-2 chance negotiated seven furlongs in 1:22.78 to remain perfect in two starts for trainer Victor Barboza Jr., who mentioned the February 24 Hal’s Hope (G3) as a target.