02/09/2013 6:54PM

Gulfstream Park: Graydar leads throughout to win Donn in two-turn debut, improves record to 3 for 4

Barbara D. Livingston
Graydar goes wire to wire in the Donn under jockey Edgar Prado.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Making a case that seasoning and experience might be a little overrated, Graydar became a Grade 1 winner in just his fourth career start, leading throughout to score a convincing three-length victory over Bourbon Courage in Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Graydar, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables and trained by Todd Pletcher, was un-raced as a 2-year-old and ran just three times at 3, capping off his abbreviated campaign by coming within .01 seconds of equaling Gulfstream’s one-mile track record while winning a first-level allowance on Dec. 6.

With regular rider Edgar Prado aboard, Graydar broke alertly and sped right to the front in the 1 1/8-mile Donn while stalked early by Ultimate Eagle. Csaba and Take Charge Indy took up the chase on the final turn but Graydar readily dispatched those challenges, settled into the stretch with a comfortable advantage and was never menaced thereafter.

Bourbon Courage angled wide turning for home and finished willingly but proved no match for the winner, checking in five lengths clear of the tiring Take Charge Indy, who held third by a neck over 2-1 favorite Flat Out.

Graydar, who was not only light on experience but also trying two turns for the first time, was timed in 1:48.25 over a fast track and paid $13.40. Graydar gave Pletcher his third Donn victory. He also won the race in 2003 with Harlan’s Holiday and again three years ago with Quality Road. 

“He ran an enormous race,” Pletcher said of Graydar. “We weren’t sure what the pace scenario was, we kind of figured we’d be stalking the five [Ultimate Eagle]. That was plan A. The last thing I said to Edgar leaving the paddock was if it works out and you’re there, don’t take it away and he beat Ultimate Eagle to the turn and he sat off of us. He was laying down race horse fractions, it wasn’t like he was walking the dog.”

Pletcher said winning a Grade 1 race with only three starts under his belt was a major accomplishment for Graydar.

“You see horses win Grade 1’s early in their careers,  2-year-olds with not too many starts, but I’d say it’s extremely rare to see a horse in his fourth lifetime start against seasoned horses like this be able to do it. It’s a real tribute to the horse.”

Pletcher said winning the Donn was also vindication for the owners, whose Mission Impazible was beaten a nose in the race by Hymn Book last year. Pletcher also said he was uncertain what would be next on Graydar’s agenda.            

“I have absolutely no idea,” said Pletcher. “The next one’s at a mile [Gulfstream Park Handicap], I don’t know. We’ll just play it by ear. He’s a big horse and that was a big effort and we’ll try to give him plenty of time.”

Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
DRF Thank you for weeding out the silly comments.
Aniello Napolitano More than 1 year ago
This is off-topic, I know, but does anyone find Larry Collmus' voice extremely irritating? I'm sorry, but choosing him as the voice of the Triple Crown for NBC was a horrendous mistake. He's got the least engaging voice for a major race caller I have ever heard. Between him calling the TC and Trevor Denman calling the Breeder's Cup, we are missing an opportunity to engage new fans. It is frustrating because those making the decisions to hire these guys at this level don't have the knowledge of what makes a great race call. I feel cheated. And it's nothing personal, I'm sure Collmus is a nice guy, but his voice is not authoritative at all; just irritating and clearly trying too hard. In fact, when he tries to emulate Tom Durkin, it's even more annoying, especially during tight stretch calls. Anyone know someone at NBC where we can voice an "objection". This is a missed opportunity folks.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Tom Durkin and Trevor Denman are the best of the best.
Aniello Napolitano More than 1 year ago
Durkin WAS the best (in my time). Denman I have never been fond of (misses too much) I like Mark Johnson of Churchill Downs, John Dooley who does Arlington, Kurt Becker (Keenland), and even Vic Stoufer on the West Coast is up there. Of these, I think Dooley is the most authoritative. That's what you need from a race caller. Any of these would be great on NBC covering the Triple Crown.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
Ultimate Eagle was vanned off yet no mention of this or what went wrong with him...?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I believe he grabbed a quarter and was bleeding heavily, but nothing more serious.
Joey Santiago More than 1 year ago
if this horse continues to improve he will problely will break track records around the tracks, watch out for the pale rider. & jhonny v.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Hats off to Graydar! It is quite obvious that most of last year's top handicap horses have tailed off. Some were retired/ The door was open for a new champion and Big Gray waltzed thru that door!!!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Ron The Greek romped against Mucho and Fort Larned returns soon.
John More than 1 year ago
Seems like all the so called "big horses" in the handicapp division, need the race to fall out into their strengths or they dont fire ! Last years Breeders Cup, Game on Dude, couldnt ajust to tracking, Ultimate Eagle, same thing, Flat Out, didnt get a set up .......................I think its just a mediocre bunch of older horses right now, Graydar could be a nice entry into the division !
Mark More than 1 year ago
yeah . ron the Greek was mediocre in his last race . lol . Cigar Street will be "a nice entry into the division !" Graydar had it his way yesterday . Once the bad cali horse didnt press it was an easy lead for graydar . TCI was wide entire race . ran well . BC not quite grade 1 . Flat Out will be better next out . Not much in there yesterday with race setting up perfect for graydar . and god is a non factor hiding out in cali facing the same retreads race after race. we saw were he fits in the division in the breeders cup classic .
Jordan More than 1 year ago
That wasn't an easy lead. Graydar ran them off their feet. But Gulfstream is a track where such tactics can really pay off. Now Pletcher has to keep him healthy and we need to see Graydar do it again some place besides Gulfstream.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I am not sold yet either .
John More than 1 year ago
This web site below is a "loaded gun " dont open it, it puts a virus in your comp ! Stick to horses !
Wabstat More than 1 year ago
How about Ultimate Eagle?? Is he Ok??? Nice reporting.
Harold Kaufler More than 1 year ago
"...we'll try to give him plenty of time." Translation: Twin Creeks needs time to deal him to Japan.
Thomas Soban More than 1 year ago
Nice to see Edgar Prado on a big horse
Jock More than 1 year ago
I agree with you on this as I think that he is as good as any riders in Florida.I realize that he's older than most but that means he is more experinced.I have always followed him and wish him the best,Jerry
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
He's 45 - not that old nowadays. He's riding as well as ever - just needs to get on those good horses.
Steve Hanna More than 1 year ago
Could not agree more, I still see Pardo ridding great. Whenever given a good horse he gets all that is there. Glufstream has a terrific riders colony!