05/20/2017 7:44PM

Quijote wins first local start in Big Drama

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Quijote, under Tyler Gaffalione, wins the Big Drama Stakes by two lengths.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— One reason Midwest Thoroughbreds sent a division to Gulfstream Park last winter with trainer Armando De la cerda, and stayed on for the summer meet, was the opportunity to take advantage of the lucrative statebred stakes program offered here throughout the year. That plan proved fruitful on Saturday after Quijote made his local debut with a two-length victory over the previously undefeated 3-year-old Mo Cash in the $100,000 Big Drama Stakes.

Quijote shipped in to De la cerda from trainer Tom Amoss in early April after having won four of his first 12 career starts, including a pair of open company allowance races last winter at Fair Grounds. Although he was trying seven furlongs for only the second time in his career in the Big Drama, Quijote, a 4-year-old son of Pomeroy, handled the distance well, stalking the early pace of Richard the Great and edging clear into the stretch before repulsing a solid bid from Mo Cash through midstretch to win going away.

Mo Cash, the only 3-year-old in the field and unbeaten in three previous starts, stalked the early leaders, slipped inside Quijote to reach even terms at the eighth pole but was second-best. French Quarter raced forwardly throughout but failed to muster a closing response, finishing another length farther back in third.

Quijote, who was multiple stakes-placed at 3, completed the distance in a sharp 1:21.98 under jockey Tyler Gaffalione and paid $10.60.

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“Amoss  did a very good job with this horse,” said De la cerda. “He sent him to me about six weeks ago and I got to work him three or four times while getting him used to the warmer weather. Tyler is a very good rider and he did a nice job. I told him there were a couple of speeds in the race, but when they all didn’t go, he had to go himself and put him right up there from the start.  One reason I moved here was because the owners have Florida bred-horses, including some 2-year-olds to send down here later this summer.”    

De la cerda said if all goes well, it is likely Quijote will be pointed to the Grade 2 Smile Stakes on July 1, a designated Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.