01/21/2017 6:55PM

Hy Riverside wins head bob in Sunshine Millions Classic

Coglianese Photos
Hy Riverside, ridden by Jose Ortiz, narrowly prevails over Nauset Beach in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – They saved the best for last on Saturday’s Sunshine Millions card at Gulfstream Park – a classic of a Classic won by the bob of a nose by Hy Riverside over a game but hard-luck Nauset Beach, with 3-5 favorite Awesome Slew finishing less than a length farther back after holding a short advantage through midstretch.

Hy Riverside competed in the nine-furlong Sunshine Millions Classic on short rest, having finished fifth in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope here one week ago. With Jose Ortiz aboard for the first time, Hy Riverside raced several lengths off the early pace set by Nauset Beach and pressed by Piloting.

Hy Riverside split horses rallying into the stretch, joined the leaders nearest the inside approaching the sixteenth pole, and proved narrowly best under strong handling by Eclipse Award finalist Ortiz. 

Nauset Beach disposed of Piloting before six furlongs, reasserted himself after being headed by Awesome Slew at midstretch, briefly regained a narrow advantage in the shadow of the wire, but could not last.

Awesome Slew was hung wide throughout after breaking from the extreme outside in the field of eight older Florida-breds, forged to a short advantage outside Nauset Beach upon settling into the stretch, but could not sustain his bid, succumbing grudgingly in the final sixteenth.

Hy Riverside is trained by Antonio Sano for Mar Racing Stable Inc., and the $120,000 first prize for his first stakes victory nearly equaled his earnings from 13 previous starts. Hy Riverside completed the distance over a fast track in 1:49.39 and paid $8.80.

"Antonio told me to warm him up good,” said Ortiz. “He said, ‘Try to put him close to the pace, and he will give you a run at the three-eighths pole.’ At that point, I didn't want to go around because I felt like I had a lot of horse. I wait, wait, wait, and made my way through a hole, and my horse was very, very brave. I knew I was there, but I wasn't sure about the head bob. He gave me everything he had, and it was a great training job by Antonio Sano and his team.”