Sunday, August 30, 2020

Breeze on By Wins Affirmed for Stonehedge

 Breeze On By led a 1-2-3-4 superfecta finish for Stonehedge LLC at Gulfstream Park with a commanding 7 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed, the second leg of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes for juveniles sired by accredited Florida stallions.

The Affirmed, a seven furlong open division, co-headlined Saturday’s program with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl, a seven-furlong stakes for fillies.

The FSS stakes were supported by the $75,000 Proud Truth, a mile turf stakes for 2-year-olds, and the $75,000 Sharp Susan, a mile turf stakes for juvenile fillies. Details of those two races are below in this story.

Trainer Ralph Nicks, who saddled Breeze On By for a victory in the $100,000 Dr. Fager in the first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes four weeks earlier, won his fourth consecutive running of the Affirmed. The son of Cajun Breeze also gave Nicks his eighth Florida Sire Stakes success since 2016 while providing Gil Campbell’s Stonehedge Farm with a 15th victory in the tradition-rich series.

“I just feel blessed to be in Florida for seven years and win this many [Sire] Series,” said Nicks, who also captured the Affirmed the previous three seasons with Soutache (2017), Garter and Tie (2018) and Liam’s Lucky Charm (2019).

“I learned early on that you need to be a part of this and was lucky to have owners send me some talented horses and it's worked," Nicks  said.

The Nicks-trained Big Daddy Dave and Seazan finished second and third, respectively, while the Kathleen O’Connell-trained Top Boss finished fourth to round out the Stonehedge superfecta.

Breeze On By, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, broke alertly from the starting gate but was beaten for the early lead by Gatsby, the 5-2 second choice who showed the way along the backstretch under a hustling ride by Hector Berrios. 

Breeze On By pressed the pace during swift fractions of 22.14 and 44.22 for the first half mile before putting away the tiring pacesetter on the turn into the homestretch and drawing away to a comfortable victory.

Breeze On By, undefeated in three starts, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.75. Big Daddy Dave made a wide bid of the final turn and finished second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of a late-rallying Seazan.

The winning time was the second fastest for the Affirmed in the seven times it has been run at Gulfstream. The stakes record is 1:22.46, set by Soutache in 2017.

From 1982 through 2013 the Sire Stakes races were  run at Calder in Miami Gardens, where the track is deeper than Gulfstream and usually produces times that are a second or more slower than at Gulfstream.

Breeze on By earned an Equibase Speed figure of 90, which is strong for a 2-year-old at this stage of the season.

Breeze On By is scheduled to make a bid to sweep the Florida Sire Stakes in the $400,000 In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile series finale Sept. 26. 

“Doing this series is tough on them and we'll see," Nicks said. "There are two other horses in this race that ran well so nothing will be a gift, but it's nice to have a horse this talented and have those options in front of you."

Turf Stakes
In the Proud Truth, Hot Blooded took the lead from Boca Boy at the top of the stretch and went on to beat that rival by 2 1/2 lengths.

Jaramilllo rode Hot Blooded for trainer Carlos David, winning in 1:36.69 on the course listed as Firm  Hot Blooded earned an Equibase Speed Figure of 81.

In the Sharp Susan, Spanish Loveaffair held off Director's Cut and beat that rival by 1 1/4 lengths.

Victor Lebron rode Spanish Loveaffair for trainer Mark Casse, winning in 1:35.03. Spanish Loveaffair earned an Equibase Seed Figure of 85.

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