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Venezuelan Hug Surges to Millions Turf Preview Victory

Nov 21, 2020
Inthewinnerscircle Graduates in $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Spedale Family Racing’s Venezuelan Hug, exiting four straight races in open company including the Belmont Derby (G1) last out, responded to the drop in distance and class with his first stakes victory in Saturday’s $60,000 Millions Turf Preview at Gulfstream Park West.

The 1 1/16-mile Turf Preview for 3-year-olds and up was the first of two Florida-bred stakes on the nine-race program, followed by Inthewinnerscircle’s triumph in the $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Venezuelan Hug ($9.20) was one of four 3-year-olds facing older horses in a field of 10, including 5-2 post time favorite Monforte, a multiple stakes winner who lost for just the second time in eight races dating back to last fall. Venezuelan Hug had run against his elders once before, a 5 ¼-length maiden special weight triumph in April going 1 1/16 miles on the Gulfstream Park turf.

By Constitution, Venezuelan Hug won twice in four subsequent starts against fellow sophomores, finishing off the board in his only other stakes tries, the most recent coming in the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby Oct. 3.

“They were really excited about the horse,” winning jockey Joe Bravo said. “The only concern they had was a 3-year-old running against older [horses] because most times 3-year-olds aren’t as developed as older horse, and look what he did today. It really shows you this horse has the potential to grow up to be a good one. Today was my first time riding him and I can’t praise him enough and say how good he is.”

Venezuelan Hug trailed the field around the first turn as 70-1 long shot Hero Up ran the opening quarter-mile in 23.27 seconds over the firm turf course, pressed by Sir Seamus with Monforte tracking three wide. Sir Seamus was in front after a half in 47.73 but Monforte inherited the lead on the turf following six furlongs in 1:11.61.

Bravo and Venezuelan Hug steadily gained ground along the hedge and were in a contending position turning for home, but stuck behind horses. In an instant, Venezuelan Hug shot through an opening between Monforte and Max K.O. and surged to the lead, holding off a furious late bid from 13-1 long shot Second Mate on the outside to win by a head in 1:43.24.

“I was thinking a lot the whole race. They made us think a lot,” Bravo said. “There was a couple maneuvers where I wanted to go outside and I saw how they floated [wide] so I stayed in there. That’s what makes good horses, good horses. He was able to do it every time I asked him.”

Scraps, sent off at 25-1, was a half-length behind Second Mate in third, followed by Muggsamatic and Galleon Mast, who was attempting to win his seventh career stakes and third straight in the Turf Preview. Sassy But Smart, Monforte, Max K.O., Sir Seamus and Hero Up completed the order of finish.

Inthewinnerscircle Graduates in $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf

Live Oak Plantation homebred Inthewinnerscircle lived up to her name in her second career start, breaking her maiden in style with a professional victory in Saturday’s $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Inthewinnerscircle ($13.40) ran one mile in 1:38.70 to give jockey Edgard Zayas his fourth victory on the card. The 2-year-old daughter and granddaughter of multimillionaires Medaglia d’Oro and Bernardini is trained by Mark Casse, who earned his 3,000th career victory Nov. 19 at Gulfstream West.

“She didn’t break the cleanest, but Edgard worked out a perfect trip. He saved some ground going into the first turn, made a bit of a middle move, swung her out and she came rolling,” Casse’s South Florida assistant Nick Tomlinson said. “We’ve always thought that she had a lot of talent and she showed it today.”

Zayas settled Inthewinnerscircle well off the pace set by 70-1 long shot Special Inclusion, who led through fractions of 24.38 and 48.31 seconds. As Yafa was taking over the top spot midway around the turn after going six furlongs in 1:13.39, Zayas tipped Inthewinnerscircle to the outside to launch their bid, and they quickly accelerated through the open space to take command.

Yafa stayed up for second, with Double Blessed third followed by Our Dear Peggy winner Quinoa Tifah and Sweet Super Sweet, the narrow 5-2 favorite off a stakes victory over the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs Oct. 5.

“We’ve gone into both her races feeling very confident,” Tomlinson said. “Her last race, unfortunately it came off the turf. She’s always been OK on the dirt but she’s a lot better on the turf. We’re very happy for the connections and very happy to get the win today.”

Zayas was also aboard when Inthewinnerscircle ran fifth in her Oct. 17 debut, also at Gulfstream West, fifth behind Viva La Reina, who finished seventh in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“I picked up the mount the first time she ran and they took it off the turf, and I just felt how much class she had. I came back and told Nick, ‘I think this is a good filly; she’s just asking for turf,’” Zayas said. “They brought her back in the stake and I was kind of surprised that they did that but I guess they thought the same thing that I did. She’s a pretty good filly. She had everything going her way. She had a beautiful trip. I just rode her like a good horse and she came out with the win.”


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