01/17/2015 6:30PM

Sr. Quisqueyano rewards new owner's confidence in Sunshine Millions Classic

Tom Keyser
Edgard Zayas celebrates as Sr. Quisqueyano pulls a 20-1 upset in the Sunshine Millions Classic.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Owner Ron Paolucci’s Loooch Racing Stables received a quick return on the $62,500 investment he made to claim Sr. Quisqueyano just four weeks ago when his new acquisition held gamely down the stretch to upset Saturday’s $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

Sr. Quisqueyano was haltered out of a second-place finish behind Race Day going a mile here on Dec. 21. The 5-year-old Sr. Quisqueyano, a  son of Exclusive Quality, was a three-time stakes winner earlier in his career and finished third here two years ago in the Grade 3 Skip Away. He snapped a 10-race losing streak when he captured a high-priced optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park West in November.

With Edgar Zayas aboard, Sr. Quisqueyano rated off a blistering early pace set by I’m Steppin’ It up and Wildcat Red. Sr. Quisqueyano moved to command leaving the three eighths pole, was put to a vigorous ride while holding a narrow advantage entering the stretch, and then withstood East Hall despite finishing on his left lead and drifting steadily down the stretch.

East Hall, who conceded the entire field from four to six pounds, trailed early, moved to within easy striking distance nearing the stretch but could not run down the winner while also on the wrong lead down the lane. Catholic Cowboy loomed boldly between horses through the furlong grounds but could not sustain his rally. Both Transparent, the 8-5 favorite, and Wildcat Red, turned in disappointing efforts in the Classic, finishing fourth and fifth respectively, nine and 19 lengths behind the winner.

Sr. Quisqueyano paid $43.20 after covering 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:50.09.

Peter Walder, who trains Sr. Quisqueyano for Paolucci, gave his owner all the credit for the victory.

“My owner picked him out.  I can’t take any credit for picking him out. I can only take credit for training him,” said Walder. “And actually he [Paolucci] pushed to run in this spot.  I can’t take any credit for anything. I just backed off him for a little bit after I got him. These older horses, a lot of times you can over-train them. He went into this race bouncing. I told the owner I really wished I had a few more weeks to work him and get to know him a little bit better. But a six-horse field for 250 [thousand], you got to take the shot, and I have to give Ron all the credit for pushing.”