02/25/2012 6:13PM

Gulfstream Park: Here to Win rides the rail to The Very One upset

Tom Keyser
Here to Win was kept along the rail by jockey Joe Bravo on her way to an upset in the Grade 3 The Very One at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In what trainer Kiaran McLaughlin described as a “pleasant surprise,” the Brazilian-bred Here to Win skimmed the rail en route to a one-length victory over Keertana in Saturday’s $100,000 The Very One at Gulfstream Park. Perfect Shirl finished a distant eighth as the 9-5 favorite making her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Here to Win, a Group 1 winner in South Africa during summer 2010, was making only her third start since shipping to the United States and joining McLaughlin’s stable last fall. Here to Win finished a wide-running third making her local debut under allowance conditions last month, and even her trainer admitted he didn’t know what to expect when stepping her up against Grade 3 opposition in The Very One.

Here to Win saved ground while racing near the rear of the pack for the opening mile of the 1 3/8-mile The Very One, continued her bid unabated along the inside once turning for home before outkicking Keertana to the wire. The latter also saved ground around the final bend, eased out for the stretch run, continued on willingly, and just missed. Longshot Woodford Belle outfinished Casablanca Smile by a nose to be third, another 4 1/2 lengths further back.

Here to Win paid $24.40. Final time over a firm course was 2:13.22.

“She was a Group 1 winner in South Africa and is a nice filly, but we didn’t know how she’d stack up against this type of competition over here,” said McLaughlin who trains Here to Win for Trick or Treat International. “The difference today was Joe Bravo’s ride. Last time, she was about 10 wide. Today, he never got off the rail. I just wish the owners were here. They’re from Norway and attended each of her first two races with us, but they had a death in the family and couldn’t make the trip today.”

Trainer Roger Attfield said Perfect Shirl “just got tired. She probably needed the race, which is what I thought going in.”