Willy Boi Preps for Smile (G3) with Sharp Win
The Virginian Turns Tables on Warrior’s Pride in Co-Feature
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Lea Farms LLC’s Willy Boi stamped himself as a strong contender for the July 3 Smile Sprint (G3) during Summit of Speed Weekend with a powerful victory in Saturday’s $65,000 Big Drama at Gulfstream Park.
One week after celebrating his first graded-stakes victory with Lea Farms LLC’s Lightening Larry in the Chick Lang (G3) on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard, trainer Jorge Delgado had high hopes for the graded-stake future of Willy Boi, who notched his second impressive victory.
The 4-year-old son of Uncaptured, who captured an April 8 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs in his first start after being transferred to Delgado’s stable, chased pacesetter King Cab along the backstretch and around the far turn before asserting himself leaving the turn into the homestretch and drawing away to a 5 ¼ -length triumph under Chantal Sutherland.
“The horse is getting better and better and stronger every day. He had a long, long layoff so we used the Tampa race as a prep for this race. Now, this race is a prep for the Smile in July,” Delgado said. “We have high hopes for this horse. I’m just lucky and blessed to have horses like him.”
Willy Boy, the 8-5 favorite in a solid field of Florida-bred horses, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.33. King Cab held on to second, 3 ½ lengths ahead of Shivaree.
Willy Boy won his fourth race in seven starts at Gulfstream, including a triumph in the Hutcheson Stakes last year.
In the co-featured $60,000 Sunny Isles, Big Top Stables LLC’s The Virginian ($5.80) turned the tables on Warrior’s Pride after taking advantage of an ideal set-up in the five-furlong overnight handicap on turf.
The Steve Klesaris-trained 5-year-old gelding, who chased loose-on-the-lead Warrior’s Pride in vain to finish second in an April 28 optional claiming allowance at five furlongs on turf, found himself in a perfect situation Saturday when Warrior’s Pride was beaten to the early lead by Tape to Tape. Miguel Vasquez rated The Virginian in third behind the dueling pacesetters before making a three-wide sweep with the son of Prospective on the turn into the homestretch and drawing clear to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Warrior’s Pride, the 3-2 favorite who has won two stakes over the Gulfstream turf course, continued on gamely to finish second under Chantal Sutherland. Tape to Tape and jockey Jose Morales finished another half-length back in third.
The Virginian ran five-furlongs over firm going in 55.81 seconds.