Castellano masterminds Palm Beach trip for Converge

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February 27th, 2016

Unlike Catch a Glimpse in Saturday's Herecomesthebride (G3), the $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) didn’t feature as clear-cut a favorite. That parity was borne out by a blanket finish and a tale of tripsat Gulfstream Park.

The Chad Brown-trained Converge, whose 8-1 morning line shaped as too high, rated as the 5-2 post-time favorite. Thanks to a magnificent ride by Javier Castellano, he became the first black-type winner sired by Sidney’s Candy.

Converge was among the least experienced in the bulky field, with a debut maiden score versus New York-breds at Belmont Park and a wide, closing second on yielding ground in the October 30 Awad S. his only prior outings. Although the Paul Pompa Jr. colorbearer got away slowly here, he was probably always going to drop back from post 11.

Giant Run, drawn next door in post 10, took the opposite tack with his early speed. Chasing the 168-1 (not a typo) American Phantom through fractions of :23.11, :47.27 and 1:11.19, he struck the front as the hopeless longshot gave way.

Meanwhile, Castellano had been making all the right decisions on Converge. He improved his position on the rail down the backstretch, but came around Ousby to avoid getting stuck turning for home, and was drafting just behind the front rank waiting for the opportunity to materialize. A gap appeared to the inside of Giant Run, and Converge burst through it to prevail by three-quarters of a length. He finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.64.

Giant Run ran a mighty race while wide the entire way, covering 24 feet more than Converge (according to Trakus). He held second by a nose from the inconvenienced Ousby, who was in tight on the rail at times in the stretch. Fourth-placer J R’s Holiday likewise didn’t see real daylight on the inside, but had enough room to work into fourth. The upset winner of the Kitten’s Joy last out, J R’s Holiday has now run six straight commendable races on turf. We haven’t heard the last from him.

Well-bred Gimlet got up for fifth, while the wide-traveling Scholar Athlete (42 extra feet) tired late in sixth. Kismet’s Heels (48 extra feet) is another who ran better than appears in eighth, beaten all of 2 1/2 lengths. Urban Bourbon, an uncharacteristic 11th after negotiating 37 extra feet, was only 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Shuffle the respective trips, and you’ll get different results.

Like his own sire Sidney’s Candy, as well as last week’s Risen Star (G2) hero Gun Runner and champion Shared Belief, Converge is bred on the Candy Ride/Storm Cat-line cross. In Converge’s case, he’s actually inbred 3x3 to Storm Cat. His dam is the multiple Grade 3-winning Stormy Atlantic mare Atlantic Ocean, who is herself inbred 3x2 to Seattle Slew.

Bred by SF Racing in the Empire State, Converge was a $240,000 Keeneland September yearling. He has earned $141,560 from his 3-2-1-0 line. Brown indicated that his major aim is the lucrative Belmont Derby (G1) on July 9.

Quotes from Gulfstream Park:

Winning rider Javier Castellano: “I had a beautiful trip. I have to give Mr. Brown credit. I rode the horse the way he wanted to do it. It was the first time I rode the horse I never was on the horse before. The horse ran a beautiful race.”

Winning trainer Chad Brown: “We planned on giving the horse just one start at Gulfstream to kick off his year. There are some big races in the summer for him. In between, there’s nothing put in stone but it’s a great way to start off the year.

“We knew this horse doesn’t have any early speed and he (Castellano) would have to tuck him in off the break. We just said, ‘Take your chances and try to find someone live to follow on the inside.’ On this turf course, if you can work your way up and get within striking distance turning for home, it’s ideal. Javier just rode a masterful race and he had the horse beneath him to do it. He’s a real quality horse.

“He shows me no reason to try him on dirt. He’s shown early on that he’s at home on turf, so we’ll keep him on it.”

Photo courtesy Adam Coglianese Photography.