09/03/2016 7:04PM

Awesome Banner's late surge gives him Prized Division victory

Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Awesome Banner (left), ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, edges Mr. Kisses by a neck in the Prized.

Awesome Banner, typically a leader, became a follower Saturday, and in so doing he became a winner again after two losses as the odds-on favorite.

Wide and tracking the pace under Tyler Gaffalione, Awesome Banner surged late to nip Mr. Kisses by a neck in the $150,000 Prized Division of the Florida sire stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Mr. Kisses, who set the pace from the rail, was 3 1/4 lengths better than Dream of Me.

It was Dream of Me who had upset Awesome Banner, a 1-20 favorite, in the Unbridled Division of the sire stakes Aug. 6. Awesome Banner got hooked inside on a speed duel that day, pinned his ears, and was worn down in the homestretch.

Breaking from the outside facing six rivals in the Prized, he stalked the pace while well off the rail down the backstretch and around the turn and, after looking at the quarter-pole like a horse struggling to find his stride, Awesome Banner, the most talented animal in the race, finally asserted himself.

“He made me work a little bit, but he was much more comfortable today with the outside post,” Gaffalione said. “I didn’t have to use him as much. I could just sit back and let them duel early.”

Awesome Banner paid $3.40 to win and clocked easily the fastest seven-furlong time of the day: 1:22.88. Three other sire stakes were run at the same distance.

Trained by Mark Casse for Jacks or Better Farm, Awesome Banner is a homered by Awesome of Course and out of the Zamindar mare Miranda Stands.

Winner of the Grade 2 Swale earlier this year, his record now stands at 5-2-0 from nine starts.

Pink Poppy prevails in Wasted Tears
Pink Poppy got a perfect pressing trip under Edgard Zayas and made the most of it, beating Kiss to Remember by a half-length in the $75,000 Wasted Tears for older female turf-route horses.

Kiss to Remember won a tight place photo over Dad’s Princess, as odds-on Daring Kathy could finish only fifth.

An Arindel Farm homebred trained by Ronny Werner, Pink Poppy floundered on yielding turf at Monmouth Park in the July 31 Matchmaker Stakes, but was over a firmer course she appreciated in the Wasted Tears. She paid $9.40 and ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:42.21.

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