12/10/2016 6:26PM

Fact Finding, Sonic Mule complete four stakes-win day for Pletcher

Andie Biancone/Coglianese Photography
Sonic Mule, with John Velazquez in the saddle, scores in the six-furlong Buffalo Man.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Trainer Todd Pletcher continued his dominance of Saturday’s Juvenile Showcase program at Gulfstream Park when Fact Finding drew away to a convincing seven-length decision over co-favorite Basha in the $75,000 Smooth Air.

Fact Finding, who is now perfect in three starts, was the fourth stakes winner on the card for Pletcher and third of the day for jockey John Velazquez.  

Fact Finding broke alertly from the rail and quickly assumed command while stalked from the outset by Basha. Velazquez asked Fact Finding to go on nearing the quarter pole and the son of The Factor responded, readily disposing of Basha before increasing his advantage steadily to the wire. 

Basha, who like Fact Finding entered the one-mile Smooth Air unbeaten in two starts, weakened late but easily outlasted the 70-1 Skinflint by 2 3/4 lengths to be third.

Fact Finding paid $5.20  after covering the distance in 1:36.98 over a sloppy track.

“I know him pretty well and normally he doesn’t break that good so today, going a mile, I wanted to make sure he broke well,” said Velazquez. “After that, I was able to get him on the lead and keep his face clean. Right before the quarter pole I wanted to make sure he was going about his business, he responded, and at that point I knew he was going to run very well.”

Smooth Air’s victory came 30 minutes after Velazquez had used similar front-running tactics to win the six-furlong Buffalo Man with Sonic Mule, who controlled all the pace en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Talk Logistics. 

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Recruiting Ready, the odds-on favorite in the Buffalo Man, attempted to rate off the early pace but came up empty down the stretch, weakening to finish third, another 2 3/4 lengths behind Talk Logistics.

Sonic Mule, a son of Distorted Humor owned by Calumet Farm, covered the distance over a sloppy track in 1:10.67 and paid $8.80.

“I was a little surprised he was able to make the lead today,” said Pletcher. “But he caught a little flyer leaving the gate and Johnny went on with it. It’s a big advantage being on the lead on this track today.”

Sonic Mule, who has won 3 of 6 career starts, will likely return in one of the sprint stakes for 3-year-olds scheduled here this winter, a series that begins with the Grade 3 Hutcheson on Jan. 7.