11/15/2011 4:02PM

Calder: Gibson outdoes himself on Florida Million Day

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Jim Lisa
Gibson, with Daniel Centeno up, wins the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap.

MIAMI - Gibson, who won his maiden race under a $7,000 claiming price last April at Tampa Bay Downs, returned to dirt for the first time since that victory and ran far and away the race of his life in the six-furlong Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap on Saturday's Florida Million card. Taking command right from the start under Daniel Centeno, Gibson controlled the race throughout, steadily extending his advantage through the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths over the unlucky favorite, Pashito the Che.

Gibson received a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 for the victory, 19 points higher than his best previous number, which he earned on a pair of occasions back in June at Presque Isle Downs.

“He ran an awesome race,” said trainer Gerald Bennett by phone from his winter base at Tampa on Monday. “He’s been running against some nice horses at Presque Isle. He just wasn’t liking that Tapeta track, which they changed this season and which wasn’t playing too kind to speed horses.”

Bennett, who has been training for 37 years, is no stranger to fast horses. His fastest was Beau Genius, a Grade 1 winner who disputed the pace in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Classic before tiring to finish 10th behind Unbridled.

“I should have been in the Sprint that year, but the owner wanted to go in the Classic,” Bennett recalled. “He went 1:09 and change under wraps, but you couldn’t run on Lasix back then and he needed the help to get a mile and one quarter.“

Earlier that year, Beau Genius provided Willie Shoemaker with the final victory of his legendary career when the pair combined to capture Gulfstream Park’s Hallandale Handicap.

“It was a promotional tour for Shoemaker, and I was lucky to have him wind up on my horse,” said Bennett.

Bennett said he would likely bring Gibson back to south Florida to compete in the Florida Sunshine Sprint at Gulfstream on Jan. 28.

Lone turf worker

The Calder turf course was open for training on Monday but only one horse, Trust the Deputy, took advantage of the rare opportunity to breeze on the grass, working seven furlongs in 1:30 for trainer Henry Collazo. The versatile Trust the Deputy, an allowance winner on both dirt and turf this season, is being pointed for the Grade 2 W L McKnight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on Nov. 26.

There are just five stakes left on the schedule, four of which will be run over the turf, before the meet ends on Dec. 2. All five are graded races, topped by the McKnight, which shares top billing on the Nov. 26 card along with the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap. The next stakes on the docket will be the Grade 3 My Charmer on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24. The Grade 3 La Prevoyante and Tropical Turf handicaps bring down the curtain on the long season on closing day.

◗ Seven-pound apprentice Joe Rodriguez posted back-to-back victories on Monday’s card, winning the fifth race for Henry Collazo aboard A Little Off and the sixth with the heavily favored Sofi Ana for leading trainer Antonio Sano.