02/17/2013 6:50PM

Hialeah: California rider Luna guides longshot Habits Secret to win South Florida Quarter Horse Derby


Jockey Alejandro Luna must have sensed that it was worthwhile to travel all the way from Southern California to ride longshot Habits Secret in the $208,090 South Florida Quarter Horse Derby on Sunday at Hialeah Park.

Although the California-bred Habits Secret had not finished better than third in three previous outings during Hialeah’s Quarter Horse meet, including a last-place finish in the finals of the Hialeah Laddie Futurity, the colt had finished first in a pair of six-figure stakes in Indiana as a 2-year-old.

Luna got the most out of Habits Secret’s talent in the closing-day feature for 3-year-olds, guiding his mount to a front-running 1 1/4-length victory at 13-1 odds.

Habits Secret ($28.40) was part of a parade of longshot winners in three of the four stakes on the 10-race program. The other surprise winners were Mr. Commando ($48.20) in the $75,000 Hialeah Invitational at 440 yards and Classy Cora ($24.80) in the $27,000 Sailfish, a one-turn race at 1,000 yards. Heavy favorite Hesa Winner ($4) scored by a length in the $20,000 Roble Ro Jo Bonus Challenge at 300 yards.

As a result, no winning ticket was sold on the pick four sequence that began with the Sailfish and ended with a win by the even-money favorite in the last race of the day. A $1 ticket with three of the four winners was worth $494.

In the feature, Habits Secret broke sharply from the rail in a field of 10 and was easily best after covering the classic Quarter Horse distance of a quarter-mile in 21.54 seconds. Hey List finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of James On the Run. Carverson, the fastest qualifier in the Jan. 26 trial heats, was bumped at the start, bore out, and finished sixth as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite.

Habits Secret, a son of No Secrets Here owned and trained by Ricardo Martinez, is now 4 for 10 lifetime. Last year, he won the $106,000 Governor’s Stakes at Hoosier Park and was the first-place finisher in the $118,000 Heartland Futurity at Indiana Downs, only to be disqualified and placed second for drifting out.