04/02/2016 4:35PM

Reporting Star scores for new connections in Appleton

Barbara D. Livingston
Luis Saez collects his third win and second stakes of the card aboard Reporting Star in the Grade 3 Appleton.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Reporting Star, purchased privately by Merriebelle Stable LLC following his second-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf in mid-January, returned quick dividends for his new connections after running down Force the Pace to register a half-length decision in Saturday’s Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream Park.

Reporting Star, a 6-year-old son of Circular Quay, began his career in south Florida with trainer Kathleen O’Connell before being privately purchased for the first time by his previous owners, the Copper Water Thoroughbred Company, during the summer of 2013. He won the El Prado Stakes here in his 2015 finale with trainer Pat Parente as a prelude to his runner-up finish, for the second year in a row, behind Manchurian High in the Sunshine Millions. Reporting Star was subsequently transferred to trainer Brendan Walsh’s barn at Palm Meadows after Copper Water sold the multiple graded stakes-placed gelding to Merriebelle Stable.

With Luis Saez aboard, Reporting Star stalked the pace while three wide from the outset, responded readily when set down for the drive, and overtook Force the Pass inside the final sixteenth to prove narrowly best. Force the Pass prompted the issue throughout, gained the advantage leaving the final turn, edged clear but could not withstand the winner.  Divisidero made several runs while hung wide throughout but could not get to the top pair at the end, finishing another head behind in third.

The victory was the third on the card for Saez, including the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks with Go Maggie Go. Reporting Star completed 1 1/16 miles over the firm course in 1:35.52 and paid $19 for his first graded stakes win.

“He keeps improving every work,” said Dorie Smith, assistant to Walsh, who was not on hand for the race. “I was also happy when it rained because I thought a little softer course might suit him. We’ve really enjoyed having him in the barn since he came to us six weeks ago and when you finally get to know what makes him tick, it really helps.”