G3 Winner Lightening Larry Strikes in Sunshine Sprint
Sweet Dani Girl Makes Successful Return in Filly & Mare Turf
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Lea Farms’ Grade 3 winner Lightning Larry jumped out to an early lead and repelled a challenge from defending champion Gatsby at the top of the stretch to post a front-running triumph in Saturday’s $75,000 Sunshine Sprint at Gulfstream Park.
The six-furlong Sunshine Sprint for 4-year-olds and up was the second of two Florida-bred stakes that served as co-headliners, following Sweet Dani Girl’s victory in the $75,000 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf.
Ridden by Jose Morelos for trainer Jorge Delgado, Lightening Larry ($7) covered the distance in 1:12.61 over a fast main track as the 5-2 favorite. It was the third career stakes win and first since a 12-1 upset of the Chick Lang (G3) last May at Pimlico Race Course.
Lightening Larry broke sharply from his rail post and was hustled to the lead by Morelos, going the opening quarter-mile in 22.46 seconds with Gatsby, Unsociable and Boca Boy battling for position in behind. Lightning Larry was still going strong after a half in 46.85, when Gatsby was dropped down to the rail by jockey Luis Saez to launch their bid.
Morelos and Lightening Larry had plenty left to turn back Gatsby and open up as 2021 Dr. Fager winner Cajun’s Magic closed stoutly down the center of the track to get second. Gatsby held on for third over Legal Deal, and they were followed by Boca Boy, Legends Can’t Die and Unsociable.
Bred by Michelle Redding, 4-year-old Lightening Larry won the Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs to cap his juvenile campaign and scored his biggest victory in the Chick Lang, run on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes (G1). He went winless in three subsequent starts, finishing third against older horses in a six-furlong optional claiming sprint6 Nov. 26 at Gulfstream in his prior start.
“To me, he’s always been the same. I never lost any hope with him,” Delgado said. “He’s a great horse. Sometimes, they get bad trips. Sometimes, everything goes their way. He is a great horse and he showed it today.”
Delgado said the ultimate goal is to try graded company again, but he expects to give Lightening Larry another confidence booster before then.
“I’ll plan another handicap or another [Florida-bred] stakes and then, I’ll go back with the big dogs with him,” he said.
In the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf, jockey Joel Rosario celebrated his 38th birthday with a gate-to-wire victory aboard J and J Stable and Nicholas Vaccarezza’s Sweet Dani Girl ($8), making her first start in eight months.
Saddled for trainer Carlo Vaccarezza by assistant Reynaldo Abreu, Sweet Dani Girl was pressed by Crystal Coast through a quarter-mile in 24.92 seconds and a half in 48.84 with Sonar third and last year’s Filly & Mare Turf runner-up Sugar Fix in the clear in fourth.
Sugar Fix and jockey Tyler Gaffalione ranged up to challenge for the lead exiting the far turn and set their sights on Sweet Dani Girl, but the 4-year-old daughter of Jess’s Dream responded by finding another gear and gaining separation through the stretch.
Mona Stella, the 9-5 favorite, closed to edge Sugar Fix for second with Sonar third. Don’t Get Khozy, a 12-time career winner racing for just the second time on turf, Crystal Coast, Extravagant Rosie and Lookinlikeaqueen completed the order of finish.
“I had a very good trip,” Rosario said. “She broke sharp and Reynaldo told me to just let her get into her stride and go from there. It looked like we were going to be on the lead but the outside horse [Crystal Coast] had some speed. My filly was there and she was able to keep coming at the end. She was digging in there at the end and getting better.”