Blofeld catches Stanford in final jumps, returns to spotlight in Gulfstream Park H.
“We were expecting a big performance from him,” Pletcher said of the winner. “I thought he got a race off the layoff, so we were looking for a big effort from him. It's nice to see him get back to the form we knew he was capable of.”
The race was nearly marred by a terrible mishap, with a tiring Anchor Down weaving into the path of Valid, who stumbled badly and nearly fell after clipping heels in midstretch. Anchor Down wound up third for Pletcher, who sent out four of the seven runners, but the stewards disqualified Anchor Down and placed him fourth behind Valid.
John Velazquez was up on winner, who was overlooked at almost 10-1 odds, and the gray son of Quality Road registered his first victory since capturing the Nashua (G2) in 2014. Winner of the Futurity (G2) in his second start, Blofeld had been lightly raced since improving his record to 3-for-3 in the Nashua, but dropped all three attempts.
Fourth when returning from a near seven-month hiatus in a Gulfstream allowance on January 27, Blofeld performed at a much higher level on Saturday. He stalked in fourth, within a few lengths of pacesetter Anchor Down, as the field made its way down the backstretch of the one-turn race.
The early splits went in :23.21, :45.69 and 1:09.29.
Stanford advanced to challenge along the inside turning for home as Blofeld briefly tried to go outside of his stablemate in upper stretch, but Anchor Down was drifting in at the point after racing well off the rail most of the way and forced Velazquez to guide Blofeld to the inside of Stanford.
Stanford surged to the lead inside the quarter-pole and was clinging to a one-length advantage with a furlong remaining, but Blofeld closed boldly up the rail to get the money late.
”It was a perfect trip,” Velezquez said. “He broke well enough. Normally you have to break and put him into the race. He got into the race nicely. Then I just had to bide my time and figure out which way to go.”
Owned by Glencrest Farm and JSM Equine LLC, Blofeld stopped the teletimer in 1:35.03. His career line now reads 7-4-0-1, with $650,600 in earnings.
Stanford was off as the 5-2 third choice. Valid, the 6-5 favorite, continued on after momentarily losing his footing, finishing a length better than the 2-1 Itsaknockout in fifth. Hesinfront and Grande Shores completed the order.
Bred in Kentucky by Keats Grove Farm, Blofeld is out of the multiple stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Storm Minstrel, a daughter of Grade 2 winner Colonial Minstrel. Blofeld counts Irish champion Minstrella and successful broodmare Minstrella as his third maternal dam. He initially sold for $135,000 as a weanling before bringing $275,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.
Blofeld (green silks inside) photo courtesy of Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography