11/08/2014 6:22PM

East Hall gets upper hand in Sunshine Millions Classic Preview

Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin
East Hall, with Luis Saez up, scores at 2-1 in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview.

MIAMI, Fla. -- East Hall spent plenty of time chasing Wildcat Red during the opening half of their 3-year-old campaigns. But the steadily improving and long-winded East Hall got a measure of revenge Saturday at Gulfstream Park West when rallying to a two-length victory over his nemesis in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Preview, the main event on an outstanding program that featured seven stakes for Florida-breds of all ages.

East Hall finished behind Wildcat Red on four occasions earlier in the year including the Gulfstream Park Derby, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby. Each of those meetings came at Gulfstream Park, where Wildcat Red has been near unbeatable to date. But East Hall, who went on the road this summer to capture both the Indiana and Ohio derbies, found the more neutral site of Gulfstream Park West a bit more to his liking than his arch rival.

With Luis Saez aboard, East Hall was reserved off the early pace set by I’m Steppin’ It Up and prompted by the 6-5 Wildcat Red. East Hall was put to urging on the far turn, came three wide into the stretch then readily wore down the favorite to win going away. Wildcat Red, who gained command on the final turn and still held a clear advantage leaving the furlong pole, proved no match for the winner but held on gamely to finish second, a head in front of Schivarelli.

East Hall paid $6.80.

“This horse is a tremendous finisher,” said Bill Kaplan, who trains East Hall for the partnership of Jack Hendricks and Roger Justice. “He’ll run hard all day long."                                                                                           

Kaplan acknowledged that East Hall, a son of Graeme Hall, has continued to improve throughout his 3-year-old campaign.

“He ran a couple of bad races earlier in the year, mainly because of post position and being hung out and getting in trouble,” said Kaplan. “Put him in the clear, and he can run down anybody.”     

Kaplan mentioned the Grade 1 Clark Handicap to be decided later this month at Churchill Downs as a possible option for East Hall’s next start.