Sr. Quisqueyano an upset winner of Sunshine Millions Classic
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) As he got ready for the Sunshine Millions Classic, trainer Peter Walder was thinking that he could have used a few more weeks to get to know Sr. Quisqueyano.
No need, apparently.
Sr. Quisqueyano came up with an upset win in the biggest and most lucrative of the five stakes on the Sunshine Millions card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, winning the $250,000 race by covering 1 1/8 miles on the dirt in 1:50.09 and paying $43.20 for the victory - a shocker, especially considering early favorites Wildcat Red and Transparent failed to even hit the board.
''When I run my horses, I'm always one of the choices,'' Walder said. ''I hate looking at the board and being 20-1, so it's kind of satisfying when you kind of put one over like that.''
He made it look easy.
Ridden by Edgard Zayas, Sr. Quisqueyano found a comfortable spot off the early pace, then made his move and had enough to hold off East Hall and Catholic Cowboy. Transparent and Wildcat Red were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Owner Ron Paolucci watched the race from Las Vegas, and Walder credited him for picking both the horse and the spot in the Sunshine Millions.
''No owner, no game,'' Walder said.
In turn, Paolucci raved about what Walder did with Sr. Quisqueyano after just three weeks together.
''You can't say enough about the job he did,'' Paolucci said.
What comes next for Sr. Quisqueyano, who won for just the second time in his last 13 starts, is still unknown. The short-term plan, Walder said, was easier to map out.
''Go back to the barn and give him lots of love and hopefully he drinks beer,'' Walder said, ''because we'll be drinking a lot of that.''
Dame Dorothy - owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and ridden by Edgar Prado - won for the fifth time in six career starts, taking the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff with relative ease. Dame Dorothy paid $6 for the win, after covering the seven furlongs in 1:23.26.
''I was just biding my time and when I turned her loose, she had a really nice kick,'' Prado said.
For the first time, the Sunshine Millions card was open to more than just Florida-breds. Horses bred in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania also were in the fields.
And Weekend Hideaway, which hadn't won in three starts since August, took quick advantage of the new rules.
The New York-bred won the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes, taking off when Javier Castellano asked him for more in the stretch and pulling away for an easy four-length win that paid $12.20. Weekend Hideaway covered six furlongs in 1:08.64.
''We were actually looking for a spot for him,'' trainer Phil Serpe said. ''It all worked out well for us.''
Manchurian High ($8.20) won the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes under Luis Saez, finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.03 for owner and trainer Lilli Kurtinecz.
Pink Poppy was an upset winner under jockey Julien Leparoux in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes, completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.51 and paying $25.40 for the win.
''When you've got Julien, there's nobody better on turf,'' trainer Marty Wolfson said.
Sunshine Millions Day is the first of several major race days at Gulfstream in the coming months, with other key races on the stakes calendar including the Holy Bull on Jan. 24, the Donn Handicap on Feb. 7, the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 21 and the Florida Derby - one of the top prep races on the Kentucky Derby trail - on March 28.