Neither Phantom Ro nor Go Astray was favored in Saturday’s Florida Sire Stakes divisions at Gulfstream Park, with the former taking the Dr. Fager as the 3-1 third choice and the latter romping in the Desert Vixen as the 10-1 fourth pick.
Phantom Ro took command of the $100,000 Dr. Fager soon after the start and never looked back under jockey Edgard Zayas. The duo were pressured through early fractions of :22.30 and :45 before drawing off to easily hold 4-5 favorite Dunk by 2 3/4 lengths while finishing six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.60.
Dunk, in turn, was a half-length better than Soutache under the line, while Majestic Secret just missed third by a head. Kingston Pike and Little Doubt followed in that order while Tip Sheet lost his rider.
Phantom Ro is trained by Ralph Nicks for co-breeder Raroma Stable, and paid $8.20 while moving his record to a perfect two-for-two in this spot. The Wildcat Heir gelding broke his maiden at first asking on July 8 at Gulfstream by 2 1/4 lengths and has now banked $94,000 for those two wins.
Bred in Florida by Raroma Stable, Robert Dedovic and Martha Fisher, Phantom Ro is the first registered foal out of the Half Ours mare Phantom Girl. This is the same female family as Grade 1 hero Currency Swap.
FSS DR. FAGER DIVISION QUOTES
Ralph Nicks, trainer Phantom Ro (1st), Soutache (3rd), Kingston Pike (5th)
“I thought (Kingston Pike) would show the pace but he got behind a half step and never showed his normal speed. (Phantom Ro) the first time he ran I expected to be on the lead and he was following.
“They’re babies. They do things different. I was happy with the effort on him and Soutache, a little disappointed in Kingston Pike. (Phantom Ro) showed a lot of guts.”
Edgard Zayas, jockey Phantom Ro, winner
“The plan going into the race wasn’t going to the lead. We thought the horse on the rail, Kingston Pike, would go to the lead. The plan was to stalk the pace right behind him, but he broke very sharp. I had horses inside me and outside me, so I was in a tight spot to take back. So I had to go with him and try to relax him. When I asked him, he responded really good.”
One race earlier, Go Astray wired the $100,000 Desert Vixen with jockey Jose Batista aboard, crossing under the Gulfstream wire 4 3/4 lengths in front of 3-5 favorite Awesome Mass.
The Angel Rodriguez trainee set all the pace in the six-furlong affair, posting splits of :22.22, :44.93 and :57.31 before stopping the clock in 1:11.08 over the fast main track.
Awesome Mass had a nose to spare on third-place runner Pantyhose, while Starship Bonita, Right On, Valid Interest, Sittin On Cotton and Iwannatalkaboutme completed the order of finish.
Go Astray improved her record to 2-2-0 from six career starts with this win, which paid $23.60, and boosted her lifetime earnings to $113,470. The Ramiro R. Medina homebred took four tries to break her maiden, finally getting the job done by 4 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream on June 17. She entered this spot off a fourth-placing, beaten only one length, in the Brave Raj Stakes on July 1.
The Florida-bred daughter of Gone Astray is out of Holy Bull mare Soi Disant, making her a half-sister to Quijote, winner of the May 20 Big Drama Stakes at Gulfstream and fifth last out in the Smile Sprint Stakes (G3).
Go Astray’s fourth dam is Sarah Gamp, who is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Leading Counsel and granddam of multiple Argentinean Group 1 heroine Sally Girl.
FSS DESERT VIXEN DIVISION QUOTES
Angel Rodriguez, trainer Go Astray, winner
“I was hoping for a good race. This filly has been training super. For the day I got her, I knew she was going to be a nice horse.
“I was pretty confident because last time she ran against open company and ran fourth, beaten by only one length. When she ran second she got beat by a horse trained by Todd Pletcher, so she’s run against some nice horses.”
“I really think she’ll be good at seven furlongs. I think we’re going to have to train her to get the (two-turn) distance.”
Jose Batista, jockey Go Astray, winner
“I was definitely planning to go to the front. I expected her to win by that much.”