11/07/2015 4:06PM

Saraguaro captures second straight stakes in Millions Classic Preview

Adam Coglianese
Saraguaro wins the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday at Gulfstream Park West.

MIAMI – The rapidly improving 3-year-old Saraguaro registered his second consecutive stakes victory, holding off Nauset Beach by 1 1/4 lengths to capture the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Preview, the co-feature Saturday on the Sunshine Millions Preview program at Gulfstream Park West. East Hall finished a non-threatening fifth as the 7-5 favorite.

Saraguaro, who needed six starts to win his maiden this past summer, also won the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at 19-1 in his previous outing five weeks ago at Gulfstream. He was one of four 3-year-olds in the seven-horse Classic Preview field.  

With jockey Eddie Castro aboard, Saraguaro broke a step slow and was hung wide throughout while prompting the early pace of City of Weston in the 1 1/16-mile Classic Preview. Saraguaro engaged Nauset Beach to gain command in early stretch, edged well clear, and maintained a safe advantage through the final furlong. Nauset Beach stalked the leader in hand, moved readily to command on the second bend, could not match strides with the winner when challenged in early stretch, eased outside, and tried to come again leaving the furlong grounds but fell short with his bid while drifting some at the end. Southern Barbecue finished another 2 3/4 lengths farther back in third.

Saraguaro, a Florida-bred son of Express Tour, is owned in partnership by the Thoroughbred Acquisition Group LLC, along with trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. He covered the distance over a fast track in 1:45.65 and paid $7.20.

“We’ve always thought he was a nice horse since we first got him,” said Joseph. “He wasn’t right last winter, so we stopped on him when we couldn’t figure anything out. Then he came back off the layoff, broke his maiden, and won the Stallion Stakes. The last couple of races, things have really come together for him. We changed the blinkers on him and went to a fuller cup. He ran really big today. It looked like they were trying to get him at the end, but if you look at the replay, he galloped out five lengths ahead. Two turns is what he wants.”

Joseph said the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 16 would be his main target for Saraguaro over the next couple months.      

The Sunshine Millions Preview card started off with a bang, a four-horse blanket finish in the $100,000 Turf Preview won by Old Time Hockey by a head over One Step Salsa and Rizwan, who dead heated for second. Reporting Star, the 2-5 favorite, finished another head farther back in fourth.

Old Time Hockey, a 6-year-old homebred son of Smarty Jones, is trained by Tom Proctor for the Glen Hill Farm. He paid $10 after being ridden to victory by Ronnie Allen Jr.

Brandy’s Girl was perhaps the most impressive winner on the day, cruising to an easy-as-can-be 4 3/4-length triumph in the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Brandy’s Girl was taken in hand during the latter stages of the six-furlong dash while much the best over Silent Prayer. Longshot Rontos Lily was another 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Brandy’s Girl, who won her maiden by a dozen lengths in her previous start at Monmouth Park, is a daughter of Posse. She is owned by trainer Eddie Broome and was guided to the one-sided tally by Paco Lopez. Brandy’s Girl paid $2.80 after covering 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:18.59.

Jewel of a Cat and Katie’s Kiss, the only two fillies in the field, finished first and second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint Preview. Jewel of a Cat rallied from just off the pace to register a decisive three-length decision in her first start for trainer Carlo Vaccarezza. Jewel of a Cat, a daughter of Wildcat Heir, also was ridden by Lopez and returned $11.60 after completing five furlongs over the firm course in 56.80 seconds. Delta Bluesman was another head back in third.