02/09/2013 5:54PM

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

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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.”