Crystal Cliffs Finishes Fast to Capture $100,000 Sand Springs
Favorite Main Event Leads the Way in the $100,000 Cutler Bay Weyburn Relishes Return to Sprinting in $100,000 Sir Shackleton My Philly Twirl Holds on in $100,000 Sanibel Island
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Showing no signs of rust from a 286-day layoff, Crystal Cliffs rolled from well back in the field of eight to easily win the $100,000 Sand Springs presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in 2¾ lengths Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
In just her seventh career start, the French-bred 5-year-old mare, won for the third time and picked up her first stakes victory. Under Tyler Gaffalione, she completed the seventh running of the 1 1/16 miles turf race for older fillies in 1:42.26 and paid $8.20 as the 3-1 third choice.
Graham Motion trains the daughter of Cranford Cliffs for the partnership of Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso, which imported her from France following her 2-year-old season in 2019. Plagued with soundness issues, she raced two times in 2020 and twice in 2021. In her most recent start, she was third in the Eatontown (G3) on June 20 at Monmouth Park.
“You always worry first time back,” Motion said. “She’d been off a while. I don’t like to push her in the morning. She does plenty. But Tyler [Gaffalione] gave her a great ride. He was very patient with her. I just told him not to be in a hurry with her. Her class would come through. She’s a nice filly. She caught some tough breaks as a 3-year-old. Hopefully, we can have a fun year with her.”
Gaffalione said he followed Motion’s instructions.
“He told me to be patient with her today. He said just go ahead and let her run her race,” Gafflione said. “With Gulfstream being a little more speed-favoring, we just didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. She relaxed beautifully and when I kicked her out around the turn, she hit another whole gear. That was the thing, she was so relaxed behind them I just thought we’d gradually pick them up but she really got into the bit and exploded there. She could have a real nice year if she stays sound and healthy. I can only see her getting better from here.”
Grand Avenue Girl carried the field through opening fractions of 24.03 seconds, 48.39 and 1:12.05, was passed by Crystal Cliffs at the eighth pole. Annette Alllen’s Stolen Holiday was second, a three-quarters of length in front of Stunning Princess, the 5-2 favorite.
Favorite Main Event Leads the Way in the $100,000 Cutler Bay
Harrell Ventures LLC’s Main Event seized the lead early, never surrendered that position and earned his first stakes victory Saturday in the seventh running of the $100,000 Cutler Bay at Gulfstream Park.
Leaving from Post 5 under Jose Ortiz as the 2-1 favorite, Main Event quickly made it to the front of the field of eight and settled into a ground-saving trip near the rail. He moved away from the competition in the stretch, finished the 1 1/16 turf race for 3-year-olds in 1:41.71 to win by 3 1/4 lengths and pay $6.40.
Sosua Summer, a 14-1 long shot maiden, took up the chase out of the gate and pressed Main Event through opening fractions of 23.91 seconds for the first quarter and a half-mile in 47.58. Main Event covered six furlongs in 1:10.81 and the mile in 1:35.28. Silverton Hill’s Red Danger, the second choice at 5-2, closed on the outside to snag second, a nose ahead of DATTT Stable’s Smokin’ T. Sosua Summer was fourth.
“It was my intention to go,” Ortiz said. “He broke well, and I was able to take the lead. I had a little bit of pressure the whole time. I think he ran a huge race because he was pressured the whole time and he rebroke at the three-sixteenths pole and gave me a great run. He kept going. He gave me another gear, and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Trained by George Weaver, Main Event has flourished since being moved to the turf during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet. He broke his maiden with a front-running performance on Jan. 30 and was second by a neck to Coinage in the Palm Beach on March 5.
“We’ll see what happens the rest of the year, but I would say right now we’ll stick with the turf,” Weaver said.
The early pace scenario had Weaver wondering how Main Event could run in the stretch.
“When the put up 47-and-3, I said, ‘ooh that’s pretty quick.’ Jose [Ortiz] knows the horse. He’s ridden him twice. I have confidence in him making decisions. I would have preferred the 6 [Sosua Summer] wasn’t right behind us, pushing us. But the horse finished great up the lane. I think we have some things to look forward to.”
“He’s got a beautiful way of going; he has good natural speed. and he can carry it. I think in the longer races, you get a little softer pace set up if they let him go to the lead. I think all options are open.”
Weyburn Relishes Return to Sprinting in $100,000 Sir Shackleton
After comfortably stalking the early pace, Weyburn responded when asked on the turn by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and rolled to a 2 ½-length victory Saturday in the 10th running of the $100,000 Sir Shackleton Presented by New Holland at Gulfstream Park.
With a wide move, Weyburn swooped past the four horses in front of him, collared Collaborate, who had just gotten to the lead, at the eighth pole and ran away from the competition. In his first start in six months, he covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.01 and paid $10.60. Collaborate was second, a half-length in front of the favorite Fortin Hill.
Weyburn was Gaffalione’s fourth winner on the card. It was his first ride on Weyburn.
“Everything worked to plan. He’s a big, strong horse cutting back in distance,” Gaffalione said. Brendan [Walsh] told me, ‘Don’t take anything away and ride with confidence. He did everything I asked him.”
The Chiefswood Stables Limited homebred ran well in one-turn races earlier in his career for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and captured the one-mile 2021 Gotham (G3) on March 6 at Aqueduct. He wasn’t as effective when stretched out to two-turn races, though, and completed his season finishing last of eight in the Pennsylvania Derby in September. Chiefswood sent him to Walsh in Florida for the winter to prep for the Sir Shackleton. Walsh expected a big performance from the 4-year-old against sprinters.
“He was a little sluggish at the start, but just for a stride,” Walsh said. “Once he got out in the open [jockey] Tyler [Gaffalione] said he started running for him. He ran great. He’d been working good, and I was hoping if he ran like he was working he’d have a very big chance, and he delivered.”
“It’s nice to get him back here and get the year started off right with the horse. He’s a super-talented horse. [Trainer] Jimmy [Jerkens] had the horse and he sent him to me for the winter. He sent him to me in great shape and he’s been coaching me along the whole time, as well. I think he was more nervous about the whole thing than I was. He’s a great friend of mine.”
My Philly Twirl Holds on in $100,000 Sanibel Island
John Gallegos’ homebred My Philly Twirl managed to withstand an impressive late charge by Big Tentations, the longest shot in the field at 118-1, Saturday to secure a head victory in the $100,000 Sanibel Island Stakes presented by U.S. Foods at Gulfstream Park.
My Philly Girl had won her two previous starts on turf at Gulfstream Park this winter, but was 10-1 in the wagering her first try in stakes company for trainer Brendan Walsh. Always prominent under jockey Julien Leparoux in the 1 1/16 miles turf race for 3-year-old fillies, she pressed the pace of 24.79 seconds and 49.61 set by longshot Sensitivity. My Philly Girl surged toward the lead on the turn andwas in front at the eighth pole. She looked to be on her way to another victory but had to deal with the challenge of Big Tentations and Beechnut Trophy, who finished another nose back in third. My Philly Girl stopped the timer in 1:43.76.
Leparoux said he wasn’t sure My Philly Twirl had beaten Big Tentations.
“The horse was outside so it was not really close for me,” he said. “I couldn’t really see if we keep in front or not, but she ran big. She fought hard today. She had to fight hard, but she did it very nicely.”
Leparoux said the setup for the race from Post 9 race was ideal.
“We were outside so I could get a good position, get nice and relaxed and make a move whenever I wanted,” he said. “Today was a great trip and hopefully she’ll keep improving and we’ll see what she can do later.”
The Sanibel Island was Walsh’s third victory of the day.
"They don't come much better than this. It's a good day to do it,” Walsh said. “This filly, hats off to her. She's done nothing but improve and improve all winter. She's game. She had to dig in today. They were coming at her. But she's just been rock solid."
Lady Puchi was a late scratch.