December 6, 2022

Gufo, Fearless dominate Florida Derby Day stakes at Gulfstream

Gufo wins the Pan American Stakes (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Gufo kicked off what could be another stellar campaign in 2022 with a two-length triumph in the $200,000 Pan American S. (G2), one of eight stakes that supported the Florida Derby (G1) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on Saturday’s 14-race at Gulfstream Park.

The 13-10 favorite in a field of seven, Gufo ($4.60) swung wide entering the stretch and turned in an impressive closing kick to overtake second choice Abaan inside the final furlong. Abaan easily held second by 2 3/4 lengths over Novo Sol.

Owned by Otter Bend Stables and trained by Christophe Clement, Gufo covered about 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.28. He was ridden by Joel Rosario.

The Pan American was the sixth career stakes win for Gufo, who also improved his Gulfstream record to 4-for-4. At three, Gufo earned his first stakes win at Gulfstream in the English Channel S. and later captured the Kent (G3) and Belmont Derby (G1). His signature win last season came in the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga.

Gufo has endured a number of tough beats during his career, though, losing the Man o’ War (G1), Hollywood Derby (G1), and Saratoga Derby in photo finishes. He also owns placings in the Manhattan (G1) and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1).

“The idea is to go to the Man o’ War (on May 14) and go from there,” Clement said.

By Declaration of War, Gufo has now won eight of 15 starts and bankrolled $1.36 million.

Escaping the shadow of ace miler Speaker’s Corner for the first time this season, Fearless was an emphatic winner in his return to routing in the $100,000 Ghostzapper S. (G3).

The 3-10 favorite against five rivals, Fearless ($2.60) drew off in the stretch to win by six lengths under Luis Saez, covering nine furlongs over a fast track in 1:50.03. Capocostello won a photo for the place over Greatest Honour.

A six-year-old gelded son of the race’s namesake, Fearless captured both the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) and the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream last season. However, Fearless proved no match against Speaker’s Corner in two earlier starts this term, settling for silver in both the Fred W. Hooper (G3) and in his title defense of the Gulfstream Park Mile.

“There’s a lot of opportunities with a horse that you can kind of space around a little bit. Maybe the (May 20) Pimlico Special (G3) might be good timing,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Fearless for Repole Stable.

Weyburn, making his first start around one turn since his 46-1 upset of last year’s Gotham (G3), appreciated the cutback by taking the $100,000 Sir Shackleton S. by 2 1/2 lengths.

One of three stakes wins for trainer Brendan Walsh and four for jockey Tyler Gaffalione on the card, Weyburn ($10.60) out-finished Collaborate and 9-5 favorite Fortin Hill in the seven-furlong test, which was accomplished in a time of 1:23.01.

Owned by Chiefswood Stable and debuting here for Walsh after being trained previously by Jimmy Jerkens, Weyburn was registering his first win since the Gotham. The Pioneerof the Nile colt was subsequently unplaced in three of his next four outings, but did run Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mandaloun to a neck decision in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus S. at Monmouth Park in June.

Phantom Currency, making his first start since winning the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida (G2) 13 months ago, was more than sharp enough to take the $100,000 Appleton S. (G3) going about one mile on the turf. And bettors thought so, too, beforehand.

Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Phantom Currency led throughout, repelling a late inside bid from Wolfie’s Dynaghost to win by a half-length. Carpenters Call finished another half-length behind in third. Sent away the favorite in the field, Phantom Currency ($7.40) covered the course in 1:34.48.

Owned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by Brian Lynch, Phantom Currency has now won six of 15 starts. The six-year-old gelding is by Goldencents.

The stakes action on Saturday kicked off with the $150,000 Orchid S. (G3) for fillies and mares at about 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Family Way, the 9-5 favorite in the field of six, rallied from the back to post a 1 3/4-length victory under Tyler Gaffalione, completing the course in 2:29.08. Harajuku edged Beautiful Lover and Sister Otoole in a three-way photo for the place.

This was the second career stakes win for Family Way ($5.60), who also captured the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon last September. She kicked off her 2022 campaign last month with a second-place finish in The Very One (G3). Family Way was produced by Susie’s Baby, a Giant’s Causeway half-sister to Irish highweight Caravaggio.

Owned by Hunter Valley Farm, Debra O’Connor, and Marc Detampel, the five-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo is trained by Brendan Walsh.

Another winning favorite on the card was Main Event ($6.40), who led gate-to-wire in the $100,000 Cutler Bay S. for three-year-olds. Jose Ortiz guided the Bernardini colt over 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:41.71. Red Danger edged Smokin’ T for second by a nose.

Trained by George Weaver, Main Event was unplaced in his first two starts, both on the main track, but has excelled since switching to the grass. Following a 2 1/2-length maiden win in late January, Main Event followed up with a neck loss to Coinage in the Palm Beach S. on March 5. Main Event is owned by Harrell Ventures.

Crystal Cliffs turned in a strong bid on the far turn and a tremendous burst in upper stretch en route to her first stakes victory in the $100,000 Sand Springs S. for fillies and mares.

The 3-1 third choice in a field of eight, Crystal Cliffs ($8.20) won by 2 3/4 lengths under Tyler Gaffalione while making her first start since last June. Stolen Holiday finished second, three parts of a length ahead of 5-2 favorite Stunning Princess. Trained by Graham Motion, Crystal Cliffs covered 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:42.26.

Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Michael Caruso, Crystal Cliffs was winning for the third time in six starts. A five-year-old by Canford Cliffs, she has had an interrupted career, but had shown quality since her importation from France. Crystal Cliffs finished a close second in the Regret (G3) at three, and in two starts last season placed in the Dahlia S. at Pimlico and in the Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth Park.

Unlike most of the stakes action Saturday, the $100,000 Sanibel Island S. for three-year-old fillies was dominated by longshots. Coming out on top was My Philly Twirl, who clung to victory by a head over 118-1 outsider Big Tentations and Beechnut Trophy, who were separated by a nose. Mischievous Kiss, the 9-10 favorite, ran fourth.

A homebred racing for John Gallegos and trained by Brendan Walsh, My Philly Twirl ($22.80) covered 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:43.76. A daughter of Hard Spun, My Philly Twirl ran fifth to Beechnut Trophy in her debut in late December, but has now won three straight. She preceded this initial stakes triumph with victories in maiden and allowance company.