12/10/2012 4:19PM

Gulfstream Park: Abaco rewards trainer’s decision with allowance win

Tom Keyser
Abaco is targeting the Grade 3 Suwannee River on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Shug McGaughey resisted the temptation to try Abaco, his steadily improving Giant’s Causeway filly against stakes company for the first time in Sunday’s South Beach. Instead, McGaughey opted for a little softer spot and was rewarded when Abaco rallied to defeat high-level optional claiming competition a little earlier on the card for her fourth consecutive victory.

McGaughey had originally entered Abaco in the South Beach, but took her out when he realized the allowance race would fill.

“The stakes was a pretty solid race,” McGaughey said. “I’ve been able to use her conditions now, which I like to be able to do. I think it kind of helps them in the long run.”

Abaco began her current streak opening week of the Saratoga session when she won her maiden impressively at a mile. She then stretched out to capture her first- and second-level allowance conditions going nine furlongs this fall at Belmont Park.

On Sunday, Abaco dropped more than a dozen lengths off the pace before unleashing a steady run that carried her to a 1 1/4-length decision over Angel’s South.

“I was a little surprised when she was back there that far and acted like she was a little sulky,” McGaughey said. “Obviously on this turf course, you get a little concerned, but it’s probably good for her to make a long sustained run like that. I think the ability was there all the time, she just needed some racing and maturity.”

McGaughey said his primary goal for Abaco this winter will be the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Suwannee River on the Donn undercard Feb. 9.