11/07/2015 5:59PM

Legal Laura pulls surprise in Sunshine Millions Distaff Preview

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Antonio Gallardo guides Legal Laura to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Sunshine Millions Distaff Preview. Flutterby was third as the 2-5 favorite.

MIAMI -  Legal Laura returned to her roots to register the first stakes victory of her career, rallying to a 2 1/2-length win over My Miss Venezuela in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff Preview Stakes. Flutterby, the 2-5 favorite,  faltered late to finish third in the co-feature on Saturday’s rich Sunshine Millions Preview program at Gulfstream Park West.

Legal Laura began her career at Gulfstream Park West (formerly Calder Racecourse), winning two of her first three starts before taking to the road thereafter for trainer Kathleen O’Connell.  The 4-year-old Legal Laura, a homebred daughter of Wildcat Heir,  came into the Distaff Preview off a second-place finish in a high-priced optional claiming race at Keeneland just three weeks ago.

With Antonio Gallardo aboard, Legal Laura raced within easy striking distance of Flutterby and Moment of Delight, who contested the early pace. Legal Laura angled inside for the drive, finished willingly nearest the rail, and easily ran by the leaders to win going away. My Miss Venezuela, well-placed behind the embattled leaders, continued willingly outside horses down the stretch but proved no match for the winner while finishing three parts of a length in front of Flutterby for second.

Flutterby, a three-time stakes winner this summer at Gulfstream Park, did not kick on with the top pair at the end after the protracted pace duel while finishing worse than second for the first time in her last six starts.

Legal Laura, who is owned by her breeder, Gil Campbell, covered seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:23.48 and paid $17.20.

“She’s been a real ultra-consistent filly who has had a little bad racing luck here and there,” said O’Connell. “She’s a real trier, a very, very classy filly. She really showed an ability to close last time out at Keeneland. She got into trouble and closed very well. I’m really happy for Mr. Campbell. He’s put a lot into the business, a lot. He’s been there through the good and the bad.”

Little Nick V. takes Juvenile Turf

Little Nick V. gave trainer Carlo Vaccarezza his second victory on Sunshine Millions Preview day when he rallied to a game nose decision over the 8-5 favorite Light the Night in the $100,000 Juvenile Turf. Ian Smith finished third, another head back in the second four-horse blanket finish of the day over the turf course.

Little Nick V. ($17.80), a son of Colonel John, entered the race a maiden as did runner-up Light the Night.

Pancake prevails in Juvenile Filly Turf

Pancake proved a popular winner of the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Turf Stakes, rallying under Jose Caraballo to a 1 3/4-length decision over the pacesetting Lupo’s Way with Catira Rock finishing another neck back in third.  Pancake ($4) is owned by her breeder, Alan Cohen’s Arindel Farm. She is trained by Ronny Werner.

Li’l Meatball takes Juvenile Sprint

Li’l Meatball ($13.20) sprinted to the lead along the rail and then held safe a belated rally from the 5-2 favorite, Fellowship, to take the finale on the Sunshine Millions Preview card, the $100,000 Juvenile Sprint. Miquel Vasquez rode the winner for trainer J. David Braddy.