02/28/2010 1:00AM

Presious Passion scores in Mac Diarmida

Adam Coglianese
Trainer Mary Hartmann almost scratched Presious Passion because of the good turf at Gulfstream, but he earned a 1 1/4-length victory Sunday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Presious Passion rebounded from one of the most disappointing performances of his career and is now off to Dubai after leading throughout to post a 1 1/4-length victory over Winchester in defense of his title in Sunday's at Gulfstream Park.

Presious Passion had not started since finishing fifth, eight lengths behind Cloudy's Knight, in Calder's Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap in his 2009 finale on Dec. 26. That performance came on the heels of his finest hour, a second-place finish seven weeks earlier in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Presious Passion worked only once since the McKnight and was nearly scratched earlier Sunday with the turf course listed as "good" throughout the card. But after conferring with owner Frank Generazio, trainer Mary Hartmann decided to let her amazing 7-year-old run.

And run he did. Breaking alertly, Presious Passion quickly opened a comfortable lead as expected while setting relatively slow fractions considering his penchant to run off on jockey Elvis Trujillo on several occasions in the past. The field began to close in on Presious Passion approaching the stretch, and as has been the case so many times before, there was something left in the tank as he readily held off Winchester and the Irish-bred Feels All Right, who finished third in his U.S. debut.

Presious Passion, who outlasted Quasicobra for a half-length victory in the 2009 Mac Diarmida, covered a mile and three furlongs in 2:13.49 over a good course and paid $5.20.

"That's my boy!" a beaming Hartmann said in the winner's circle after the race. "I had a big thought about scratching this morning, but after discussing it with Mr. Generazio, he felt strongly that we needed to give this horse a race before going to Dubai, although if he did not run today I would have trained him to the race if necessary."

Presious Passion has been invited to run in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Race Course on March 27.