03/05/2016 8:06PM

Blofeld heads one-two finish for Pletcher in Gulfstream Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Blofeld, under John Velazquez (green cap) runs down stablemate Stanford in deep stretch of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Blofeld rallied up the rail and ran down stable mate Stanford in the final strides to upset Saturday’s $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap, giving trainer Todd Pletcher a one-two finish in the Grade 2 event.                                                                       

The race was marred when Anchor Down, who finished third and is also trained by Pletcher, came out under left-handed pressure to bump solidly with the 6-5 favorite Valid at midstretch.  Anchor Down was ultimately disqualified and placed fourth behind Valid.

Blofeld, who had not won a race since capturing the Grade 2 Nashua 16 months ago, saved ground throughout while racing within easy striking distance under jockey John Velasquez, found ample room to continue his bid along the inside through the stretch, and caught Stanford in the shadow of the wire. Stanford forced the pace inside Anchor Down, edged clear in early stretch, continued resolutely while racing well off the rail, and just missed. Anchor Down set the pace removed from the rail, bore out a bit further leaving the final turn, came out under left-hand urging to collide with Valid near midstretch, and held on well to the end, finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Stanford.

Valid, runner-up in the Grade 1 Donn in his previous start, raced within striking distance from the outset, appeared to be launching a bid while racing on his left lead leaving the furlong grounds when slammed into by Anchor Down, nearly unseating jockey Nik Juarez. Valid gathered himself up to re-rally and cross the wire fourth in the field of seven older horses. Itsaknockout, Hesinfront, and Grande Shores completed the order of finish.

Blofeld, a son of Quality Road, is owned in partnership by Glencrest Farm and JSM Equine. He completed a mile over a fast track in 1:35.03 and paid $21.40.

“We were expecting a big performance from him” said Pletcher.  “It’s nice to see him get back to the form we knew he was capable of.”

Pletcher said it was a tough beat for Stanford.

“He took the worst of it from the one post and kind of had to work hard the whole way,” said Pletcher. 

As for the disqualification of Anchor Down, Pletcher said, “It was a tough call. It was one of those things where it looked like Valid lugged in a little bit and our horse came out just a tick. It was just bad timing. It’s unfortunate for him, but Valid’s an awfully nice horse.”

Trainer Marcus Vitali was visibly upset after the race when speaking about the incident that he felt cost Valid his chance to win.

“It wasn’t a fair fight,” said Vitali. “We were making a great move. It looked like we were going to win the race until he [Anchor Down] took us out.”

Vitali said it appeared Valid escaped the incident without injury.