01/16/2016 5:36PM

Manchurian High repeats in Sunshine Millions Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Manchurian High, ridden by Luis Saez, scores by a half-length in the Sunshine Millions Turf.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The heartwarming saga of Manchurian High and his owner and trainer, Lilli Kurtinecz, added another chapter on Saturday when the now 8-year-old gelding rallied to capture the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park for the second straight year.

 Kurtinecz purchased Manchurian High privately – he’s one of just three horses she has – and she seems particularly attuned to his quirks. She said he often refuses to train in the mornings, seemingly bored with routine, but on game day he produces.

 On Saturday, Manchurian High ($16.40) raced in traffic for much of the race under Luis Saez but found a seam and closed for the win, prevailing by a half-length and once again vanquishing Reporting Star, who finished second in this race to Manchurian High for the second straight year.

 Fundamental, the even-money favorite, was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and was followed, in order, by Amigo, Old Time Hockey, Prince Vincenzo, Cement Clement, Gourmet Delight, Black Martino, My Point Exactly, and Rizwan.

 Firespike was scratched.

 Manchurian High completed 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:44.89 for his 10th victory in 30 lifetime starts. He owns three wins in eight starts at Gulfstream.

 “He trains me,” said Kurtinecz, who scraped together savings and borrowed from her parents to acquire Manchurian High, a horse whom she had previously groomed. “He’s the boss. He does what he wants. If he says no, we’re not gonna train today.”

 This past week, Manchurian High “wouldn’t work on Monday, so we tried again on Tuesday,” Kurtinecz said. He worked an easy three furlongs in 39.20 seconds at Palm Meadows, but it was enough to have him ready for Saturday.

Kurtinecz said she likely would head to Keeneland next with Manchurian High, where she can take advantage of different training surfaces and continue their storybook journey.

 “We’ll do whatever he wants to do,” she said. “He owes me nothing. He’s strong, sound.”