02/05/2011 8:08PM

Teaks North up at wire in Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap

Bob Coglianese/Gulfsteam Park
Teaks North wins a photo finish over Smart Bid in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Teaks North, who needed three starts before winning his maiden at Calder 13 months earlier, gave Justin Sailusto the first Grade 1 win of his training career when rallying down the center of the course to register a shocking nose victory over Smart Bid in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Teaks North, who went postward the longest price in the field at 25-1, had won a pair of overnight stakes and finished third in the Grade 3 Discovery at 3 but had never even tried Grade 1 competition until the Gulfstream Park Turf. Racing near the rear of the pack for more than six furlongs, Teaks North was angled to the outside by jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. turning for home and then finished best of all to wear down Smart Bid in the final strides.

Smart Bid saved ground throughout, slipped along the hedge to wrest control between calls near midstretch, drifted out a bit approaching the wire, and just failed to last. The pace-pressing Get Stormy finished third, with even-money favorite Battle of Hastings rallying to finish a nonthreatening fourth in a field of eight older horses.

Teaks North, purchased privately by Sailusto’s son, Nick, for owner Jules Boutelle after winning his maiden on New Year’s Day 2010 at Calder, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.39 and paid $52.60.

“My son selected the horse and turned him over to me in February,” said Sailusto, who is based at Belmont Park. “He had issues as a young horse, so we just took our time and were very patient with him. He’s very versatile, he can turf and dirt. We were torn between running him here or in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita and after looking over both races decided this was the easier spot. It looks like we made the right decision.”

Nick Sailusto said there are no definite plans for Teaks North’s next start, but that they would consider an invitation to the Dubai World Cup Festival.

“It would be nice to get invited to the Festival, either for the Classic or the turf race, I don’t think either would be out of reach,” the younger Sailusto said.

Jockey Julien Leparoux, who rode Battle of Hastings, said “he was just flat today. I was right behind the winner, and he just kicked away from me.”

Suwannee River: Cherokee Queen gets perfect trip

Cherokee Queen, victimized by an unlucky trip four weeks earlier in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River, wound up getting a dream run under red-hot jockey Alex Solis in Saturday’s $150,000 Suwannee River, rallying to a two-length victory over Never Retreat in the Grade 3 fixture for older fillies and mares.

Cherokee Queen finished fourth in the Marshua’s River after being forced extremely wide while rallying into the stretch. She had no such issues after being perfectly placed just behind the pacesetter Persuading for the first six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River. Solis tipped Cherokee Queen out to commence her rally leaving the turn, readily overtook the leader in early stretch, and easily pulled away to her first graded stakes victory.

Never Retreat lagged near the rear of the field to the stretch and then finished best of all to be second best. Persuading held on for third, while It’s Tea Time, the surprising 8-5 favorite, rallied belatedly to be a nonthreatening fourth.

Each of the top three finishers came out of the Marshua’s River.

Cherokee Queen covered the distance in 1:46.62 over a firm course and paid $11.

“She got a little too far back last time,” said Marty Wolfson who trains Cherokee Queen for the Farnsworth Stable. “She wants to sit close like she did today. She has a long fuse. She ran a very big race last year in the Grade 1 Just a Game behind Proviso but got stopped cold and finished fourth.”