Close finishes highlight soggy FSS Day at Gulfstream

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Jen Caldwell

September 6th, 2015

Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold made out like gangbusters on Saturday thanks to back-to-back one-two finishes in stakes on the Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) program at Gulfstream Park.

Homebreds Ballet Diva and Silent Prayer really gave their connections something to cheer about when crossing under the wire in that order in the $300,000 Susan’s Girl division of the FSS for two-year-old fillies.

That pair finished third and second, respectively, in the first leg of the FSS series for juvenile fillies, the August 8 Desert Vixen, behind It’s High Time. Ballet Diva was the prohibitive 1-5 favorite on that day and went off the 8-5 second choice in the Susan’s Girl.

It’s High Time led nearly every step of the way in the Desert Vixen, but this time around found herself trailing in the show spot as Ballet Diva maintained her grip on the lead throughout the seven-furlong contest.

The Hear No Evil filly set splits of :22.63, :45.57 and 1:11.60 under Jose Caraballo while chased by It’s High Time. Silent Prayer actually broke on top after being reluctant to load but eventually settled into midpack. She came six wide at the three-sixteenths pole, easily passed a laboring It’s High Time but just could not get to her stablemate before the wire hit in 1:26.12 on the sloppy, sealed track.

Ballet Diva photo courtesy of Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography

Jacks or Better Farm and Gold nearly swept the day’s juvenile FSS divisions two races later when Abercorn just caught up to Tribal Drama on the wire of the $300,000 Affirmed for colts and geldings.

Unfortunately Tribal Drama managed to hold by a neck on the line while stopping the clock in 1:25.61 under Eddie Castro. The David Fawkes trainee is now two-for-two having broken his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths on August 2 at Gulfstream.

Tribal Drama photo courtesy of Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

Jacks or Better Farm and Gold headed into the Affirmed boasting back-to-back stakes exactas after homebred Twotwentyfive A took the $150,000 Prized division of the FSS for three-year-old colts and geldings.

While the Affirmed and Susan’s Girl were the top attractions at Gulfstream on Saturday, the Prized division was one of four turf stakes that helped round out the card. Unfortunately, only the first one actually took place on the turf after rain storms moved through the area.

While Jacks or Better Farm and Gold lost by a neck in the Affirmed, Twotwentyfive A and Caraballo provided a thrilling finish when just holding off Southern Barbecue by that same margin in the one-mile Prized.

Twotwentyfive A actually captured last year’s Affirmed for his connections but has been unable to hit the board in eight races since. In the Prized, he posted a final time of 1:37.87 over the sloppy, sealed main track at 13-1.

Even-money favorite Josdesanimaux won the $150,000 Jewel Princess division of the FSS for sophomore fillies before the officials moved the remainder of the turf races to the main track. The Chad Brown trainee hopped at the break and found herself running in the rear as Katie’s Kiss led the way up front.

Jockey Edgard Zayas took Josdesanimaux to the outside and the duo circled the entire field on the backstretch before setting their sights on Katie’s Kiss. The longtime pacesetter looked a winner entering and for much of the lane, but Josdesanimaux suddenly pounced in the shadow of the wire to post a neck score in 1:42.46 for a mile over the good turf.

Earlier on the day, Johnny Handsome lived up to his 8-5 favoritism when rallying for a neck score in the $75,000 The Vid S. for trainer Leo Gabriel Jr. The bay gelding drew into the scratch-depleted field from the main-track only list when the 1 1/16-mile turf affair was moved to the sloppy, sealed main track.

Rizwan tried to lead all the way home but just could not hold off Johnny Handsome, who got the head bob after rallying up the inside. Rompin Reid laid all over Johnny Handsome in the stretch run before jockey Luca Panici finally wrenched his mount away from that foe and sent him up the wide open rail to stop the clock in 1:47.50.

Panici earned a stakes double on the card when also piloting Can’t Explain in the $75,000 Wasted Tears S. two races later. The chestnut mare didn’t have to explain anything to trainer Ralph Nicks thanks to a near wire job, finishing 1 1/2 lengths clear on the line as the 14-1 second longest shot in the field.

Can’t Explain went the same distance over the same surface as Johnny Handsome but beat him on time when completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.01.