04/01/2013 3:16PM

Gulfstream Park: Rattlesnake Bridge wins off 16-month layoff

Michael Amoruso
Rattlesnake Bridge, in his first race since the 2011 Breeders' Cup, edges Rightfully So in an optional claimer on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Lost among all the hoopla surrounding the Florida Derby and all the other graded stakes action here Saturday was the outstanding training job turned in by Kiaran McLaughlin to bring Rattlesnake Bridge back from a 16-month hiatus to register a game head decision over Rightfully So going one mile under second-level optional-claiming conditions.

Rattlesnake Bridge had not started since finishing ninth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic to close a 3-year-old campaign highlighted by a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers. With jockey John Velazquez aboard Saturday, Rattlesnake Bridge stalked the early leaders, gained command after six furlongs, then withstood a stretch-long duel with Rightfully So. The win was one of five on the card for Velazquez.

“It’s hard to believe that he missed more than a year and six months and didn’t have surgery of any sorts,” McLaughlin said. “We meant to give him 45 to 60 days off after the Breeders’ Cup and it turned into a year and one-half. It was a combination of some little things, like bruising of the cannon bone. He wasn’t going well, he wasn’t doing good, so we had to stop on him twice. But we have very patient, nice owners and they understood.”

Rattlesnake Bridge, a son of Tapit, is owned by former Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady’s Mill House Stable.

“He’s a nice horse, a classy horse, and we’re glad to have been able to get him back in the starting gate and back into the winner’s circle,” McLaughlin said. “It was a game effort off a layoff like that, and he should move forward off the race. We don’t have any real plans for his next start. We’ll just take a deep breath, get him back to New York, and look around.”