Updated on 09/17/2011 12:49PM

Cajun Beat looks unbeatable

Gary I. Rothstein/EQUI-PHOTOS
Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat coasts to a 1 1/2-length victory over Gygistar in the Mr. Prospector.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Cajun Beat was the marquee name on Saturday's opening-day program for the 2004 Gulfstream Park season, and the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner did not disappoint, posting an easy 1 1/2-length victory over Gygistar in the $100,000 .

The Mr. Prospector was the middle leg of a special all-stakes pick three wager that offered a guaranteed pool of $100,000. It also included the Hal's Hope Handicap, won by Puzzlement ($7.40), and the Honey Fox Handicap, captured by Delmonico Cat ($11.80). The 5-6-8 winning combination returned $52.50 for a $1 wager and attracted a mutuel pool of $256,059.

The success of the pick three wager was indicative of opening day as a whole. A crowd of 21,501 wagered $2,169,788 ontrack. The all-sources handle for the 11-race program was $10,683,129.

Making his first start since his 2 1/4-length triumph on Breeders' Cup Day, Cajun Beat surprised even trainer Steve Margolis by immediately sprinting to the lead under regular rider Cornelio Velasquez in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector. Racing three wide around the turn, Cajun Beat discouraged a bid from Deer Lake entering the stretch, drew clear approaching the furlong marker, and was not threatened thereafter.

Gygistar forced the winner's pace while racing down toward the inside, then dropped back from between horses around the turn. He angled outside into what appeared to be the better part of the racetrack entering the stretch and wore down Deer Lake to finish second. Voodoo, Wake at Noon, and Multiple Choice rounded out the order of finish.

Cajun Beat carried high weight of 121 pounds in his third consecutive victory and paid $3.60. He completed the distance in 1:09.06.

"I told Cornelio to sit a little off the speed, but he said his horse was so fresh and so eager he went right to the front," said Margolis, who trains Cajun Beat for the partnership of the Padua Stable and John and Joseph Iracane. "Cornelio knew what he had under him, and he could see he had the other horse [Deer Lake] measured when he was challenged on the turn. He told us coming back that he eased him up at the end."

Margolis said he would likely point Cajun Beat for the 6 1/2-furlong Deputy Minister Handicap, a Grade 3 race here on Feb. 7.

"The Dubai Sprint is our main goal at the moment, and the Deputy Minister should fit perfectly in our schedule," Margolis said.

Velasquez almost missed out on the mount in the Mr. Prospector. The rider injured his calf when Lord North broke down during the seventh race and had to be euthanized.

"I'm a little sore but not that much, and I knew this would be an easy race for him," Velasquez said, referring to Cajun Beat. The jockey was limping slightly after the Mr. Prospector.

Scott Savin, Gulfstream's president and general manager, was happy with opening day.

"We are thrilled with both the attendance and handle," Savin said. "Both figures were much more than we could have even anticipated, and justified our feeling going in that by giving the fans good horses and big fields, that we are going to have a very successful meet."