01/17/2015 5:09PM

Manchurian High storms to victory in Sunshine Millions Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Manchurian High wins the Sunshine Millions Turf by 3 1/4 lengths Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Lilli Kurtinecz sunk all she had and then some in a horse named Manchurian High. Kurtinecz even borrowed money from her parents to buy the gelding more than a year ago.

That faith was rewarded handsomely once again Saturday at Gulfstream Park when Manchurian High stormed home a 3 1/4-length winner in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Turf, marking the second stakes victory for the 7-year-old gelding under Kurtinecz’s care.

Ridden by Luis Saez, Manchurian High rallied from well back in the 1 1/16-mile race, returning $8.20 as third choice in a field of nine older horses. Reporting Star was second, another 1 1/4 lengths before Bad Debt, with favored Iron Power fourth.

Kurtinecz, 29, worked nearly 10 years in Maryland under trainer J.B. Secor. In the fall of 2013, Kurtinecz arranged to buy Manchurian High from her boss with the intent of running him in the four-mile Maryland Hunt Cup the following spring.

But while Kurtinecz has worked extensively with Manchurian High over jumps – Kurtinecz said, “He was jumping Christmas trees in a round pen [Friday]” at her Palm Meadows winter base – the gelding still is competing primarily on the flat. The Sunshine Millions was the eighth start and third win by Manchurian High for his new owner-trainer, with the first stakes victory coming last September in the Laurel Turf Cup. His earnings for Kurtinecz now exceed $190,000.

Told by a reporter that hers is a great story, Kurtinecz happily responded: “And it keeps getting better.” She said she wants to run Manchurian High next in the $75,000 Allen Jerkens, a two-mile race here Jan. 31, and she also is considering a race in Dubai in March.

Manchurian High, by The Daddy, was bred in Florida, as were all but one of the Turf starters, with New York-bred Iron Power the exception.

The $2 exacta (7-9) paid $32.20, the $1 trifecta (7-9-6) returned $51.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-9-6-4) was worth $10.58.