Updated on 09/16/2011 6:58AM

Hal's Hope leads throughout to win Creme Fraiche


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hal's Hope reverted to the style that led him to his Florida Derby victory here two years ago, leading throughout en route to a convincing two and one quarter length victory over 37-1 longshot American Halo in Sunday's $100,000 Creme Fraiche Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Harold Rose had experimented with rating Hal's Hope off the pace in each of his last four starts and was rewarded with second and third place finishes in the Grade 3 Fred Hoopoer and Skip Away handicaps. But after drawing post position two in a field lacking a good deal of early speed, Rose and jockey Roger Velez seized the moment with Hal's Hope who sprinted right to the front and never looked back, extending his advantage through the stretch in the Grade 3 Creme Fraiche.

The strategy was the same modus operandi that brought Hal's Hope national attention with his wire to wire victory over odds on favorite High Yield in the 2000 Florida Derby.

"There was really no speed in the race and being it was at a mile and one sixteenth I knew if he could get to the front nobody would catch him," said Rose who also owns and bred Hal's Hope and had been winless from 42 starters at the meet coming into the Creme Fraiche.

"I knew the rest of the field was in trouble after we made the lead and he had his ears up," said Velez, Hal's Hope's regular rider throughout his career. "He relaxed nicely and when those horses came to us on the final turn he just exploded."

Hal's Hope returned $9.80 as the third choice in a field of nine older colts and geldings. He ran the distance in 1:42.40 over a fast track.

American Halo prompted the pace while racing three wide and outfinished Windsor Castle by a neck to be second. Rize, the 2-1 favorite, moved to within striking distance into the stretch and lacked a closing response. Deferred Comp, Best Of The Rest, Free of Love, Dancing Guy and Watch Your Pennies rounded out the complete order of finish.