Updated on 09/16/2011 7:10AM

Flying Birdie flies to Marshua's River victory


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Flying Birdie used her abundant speed to its best advantage, leading throughout before outlasting defending champion Elvi Gamble by a nose to win Sunday's $75,000 Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Flying Birdie quickly sprinted clear of Elvi Gamble and California invader Fair Apache after an opening quarter of 21.82 seconds and half of 44.47, swerved a bit at midstretch then held on for her second victory in as many starts on grass. Elvi Gamble, who used similar front running tactics to easily win the 2001 Marshua's River, ducked in a bit at the break to cause some crowding, chased the winner throughout, continued willingly through the stretch and just failed. Fair Apache raced just behind the top pair while hugging the hedge but lacked the necessary closing response finishing another three parts of a length behind Elvi Gamble in third.

Flying Birdie, making her first start since finishing second in the Race Artist Stakes at Calder on Dec. 2, was guided to victory by her regular rider Jose Rivera II and paid $7.60. Her final time for five furlongs on the turf was :56.38 seconds.

"She did it all on her own. She only had three breezes in four months," said owner-trainer Happy Alter who claimed Flying Birdie for $57,500 here last winter. "I laid her off because I wanted to have a fresh horse for all the five furlong sprints they were going to have at Calder this year. Now that they are not going to have that many sprints at Calder I'm not sure what I'll do with her."

"She lost her action a little bit when I asked her to change leads," said Rivera who won four straight races on Flying Biride last season before having the streak snapped in the filly's 2001 finale. "If it wasn't for that she'd have won a lot easier."