By HorseracingFLA Staff
Sunday, May 24 — Scratches reduced the field from seven entrants to four starters for Saturday’s $60,000 Alachua Handicap at Gulfstream Park, and past performances didn’t indicate that Sweet Basil would be an early leader.
But under a masterful ride by Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, Sweet Basil (above photo) controlled the early pace before kicking away in the stretch to win by 1 ½ lengths over Phaniebdancing in the 1 1/16 mile dirt stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Sweet Basil, a 4-year-old, won in 1:46.71 on a track listed as fast. The victory was her third in eight career starts, and third in three career starts at Gulfstream.
Sweet Basil was sent off at 6-1, the highest odds in the field.
“None of the speed materialized,” said Ralph Nicks, who trains Sweet Basil for owner Keith Plaisance.
“Edgar rode a good race,“ Nicks said. “It wasn’t her best style, but my young jockey here did a good job.”
Prado hustled Sweet Basil out of the gate to assume the early lead around the first turn and into the backstretch while keeping his mount off the rail.
Jockey Jonathan Gonzales sent Phaniebdancing into the opening along the inside to challenge Sweet Basil, who was patiently handled by her jockey.
After racing side by side with Phaniebdancing along the backstretch and into the far turn, Prado asked Sweet Basil for some run, and the Kentucky-bred filly responded to edge away from her challenger.
Imposing Grace, ridden by Manoel Cruz, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Phaniebdancing. The 4-5 favorite Onna Bugeisha was a distant fourth.
The splits were :24.64, :48.88,113.17 and 1:39.53.
Sweet Basil broke her maiden by nine lengths at Gulfstream last August 17 before going to the sidelines for six months. The daughter of Pulpit returned to action during the winter for a pair of third-place finishes on turf at Fair Grounds before being returned to Nicks at Gulfstream Park.
Sweet Basil proceeded to capture a six-furlong entry-level allowance on dirt by nearly three lengths on April 11 before successfully stretching out to 1 1/16 miles Saturday.
Two of the Alachua runners, Phaniebdancng and
Onna Bugeisha, are owned by Miller Racing and trained by Marty Wolfson.
The powerful Miller-Wolfson team also entered Quiet Hour, but scratched her on Saturday.
Even with the short Alachua field, Gulfstream had 87 starters for 10 races yesterday. All-sources handle was $4,930,805.
Those numbers continued Gulfstream’s solid field size and handle trends since it opened its spring/summer meet on April 8.
Gulfstream will have nine races today with first post at 1:00 p.m.
The featured eighth race is a $40,000 allowance at five furlongs on turf for fillies and mares. Scheduled post time is 4:30 p.m.
Knox City Zip is the 2-1 morning line favorite in a ten-horse field
She is coming off two strong showings in five furlong turf races at Gulfstream.
On May 7 she won a $35,000 optional claimer . On April 2 she finished second by a neck to Little Michelle in a $48,000 allowance.
In her next start, at Gulfstream on May 16,Little Michelle won the five furlong Gracie Handicap by a nose over Fascinate.
Prado has the mount for the third consecutive race on Knox City Zip, who is trained by Michael Trombetta.
I Will Be Free, Little Daniella and Cracking Good Pins loom as top threats to Knox City Zip.
On Monday, usually dark, Gulfstream will have 11 races with first post time of 1:00 p.m. The feature sixth race is the $60,000 Robert Earl Handicap at 1 ½ miles on turf for 3-years-old and up.