09/03/2016 5:45PM

Sea Coast on solid ground in winning Steve Pini Stakes

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Sea Coast is an Irish import who actually won on soft turf before being exported to the United States, but from the look of things the mare wants fast ground.

She got it Saturday at Suffolk Downs and scored a sharp two-length win over Bitty Kitty in the $78,800 Steve Pini Memorial Stakes.

Bitty Kitty was three lengths better than Mink’s Aprise, as 2-1 favorite Heath never got involved, finishing fifth. Sea Coast paid $8.60 to win and was timed in 1:46.57 for about 1 1/16 miles over firm turf. Inside Out, Paige, and Reversiontothemean were scratched.

And that firm turf might well have been the key to success. Sea Coast won an allowance race in May at Monmouth Park and was a good yet troubled second behind high-class Isabella Sings in the Eatontown Stakes there. But racing over yielding turf in the Matchmaker Stakes last month, Sea Coast failed to muster any sort of rally, finishing sixth after racing near the back of the field.

On Saturday, jockey Dylan Davis put Sea Coast into the race from the start, going up to press the pace of Cali Thirty Seven around the first turn and down the backstretch, the two leaders well clear of everyone else. Sea Coast always seemed to be going the better of the two, and Davis made an early move, taking over around the far turn. Sea Coast cruised into the homestretch with a clear lead and maintained it to the wire, winning her first stakes in her 19th career start.

"With the scratches, there wound up being no pace in the race, so I just played it off the break," Davis said. "She felt great and just wanted to be right out front and kept going. She galloped out so strong she could have gone around a second time."

Christophe Clement trains Sea Coast for the Jump Sucker Stable. The 5-year-old is by Rock of Gibraltar and out of the Efisio mare Varna.

** Dr Blarney ($2.10) continued his dominance of Massachusetts-bred older-male dirt-route horses with an 11 1/4-length win in the $76,500 John Kirby Stakes to open the Saturday card.

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