11/21/2015 5:19PM

Lochte leaves no doubt in Tropical Turf Handicap

Leslie Martin
Lochte and jockey Matthew Rispoli streak through the driving rain for a four-length victory in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap on Saturday.

MIAMI – Rain or shine, there’s no stopping Lochte at the present time.  The red-hot turf specialist posted his third consecutive stakes victory and his first graded win of the year Saturday, drawing off to a convincing four-length victory over Flashlight in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at rainy Gulfstream Park West.

With regular rider Matthew Rispoli aboard, Lochte prompted the early pace three wide down the backstretch and engaged Flashlight for command on the final turn before pulling away with authority through the final furlong over a turf course downgraded from firm to “good” shortly before the race.

Amigo, a 60-1 outsider, rallied from far back to finish third. All Included raced within striking distance for six furlongs before fading down the stretch to finish a well-beaten fifth as the 7-5 favorite in a field of nine.

Lochte, a 5–year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, is trained by Marcus Vitali for Crossed Sabres Farm LLC. For Lochte, the Tropical Turf Handicap followed victories this fall in overnight stakes at Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West.

He returned $8 after covering 1 1/16 miles over the very soggy grass course in 1:50.95, the final time more than seven seconds slower than Lady Lara completed the same distance over firm ground one hour earlier in winning the My Charmer Handicap.

“I wasn’t too afraid of the wet turf,” said Vitali. “He’ll like a wet turf, this horse. This was a little more than wet. I didn’t get wet. I stayed inside and watched it. I saw him splashing through there, and it looked like Matt made the right decisions today. I kind of left it up to him. I told him if it was a rough trip and he didn’t handle it, just take care of him, and we’ll live for another day.

“He told me he was running well and he felt good, and when he asked him, he exploded. He broke good and had a good trip.”