Ron the Greek romps in FSM Classic; Successful Song hits winning note in Distaff
"It was a good setup," Mott said. "He was a little closer than he normally is. We had asked Lezcano, if he could, to try to be a little closer. I didn't expect him to be that close. I thought he might ride him away from there a little bit and the closest he'd be was 12 lengths. I guess they headed down the backside and he's five, six lengths off the lead. It looked like was in the bridle and running well. He put him in a drive and he shook loose, and the rest is history.
"We're looking ahead and maybe try to repeat what we did last year, maybe go back to California for the (Grade 1) Santa Anita Handicap (on March 2) and try to do that over again."
Cash Rules was second best, two lengths in front of Fort Loudon on the wire.
"I told (jockey) Luis Saez, 'It looks like the speed was holding all day long, don't be too far off of it,'" said Cash Rules' trainer, David Fawkes. "Saez said going down the backside he kept getting bounced. He looked like a pony next to the other horses. Saez said they were banging into him but he still ran a great race. He's a tough horse and gives 110 percent every time he races. Ran a huge race, got beat by a better horse today, I'm very happy with him."
Atoned followed in fourth while Decaf Again and I'm Steppin' It Up came next. Mucho Macho Man, the 2-5 favorite in his first start off a half-length second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, was eased in the lane and pulled up by jockey Mike Smith.
"He put his head in the air and stopped. I have no idea," Smith said after the race.
"We're going to go back (to the barn) and check. He didn't fire or there's some problem," co-owner Dean Reaves added.
Ron the Greek also ran in the Breeders' Cup Classic, rallying for fourth after running near the rear of that 12-horse field. Prior to that he was sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational and second in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap, which came two months after his Foster score.
Following his run in last year's Florida Sunshine Millions, Ron the Greek captured the Big 'Cap and was runner-up in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. The well-traveled Florida-bred also owns a pair of stakes wins at Aqueduct from 2011 and the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds during his sophomore season.
Ron the Greek now boasts a 23-8-5-1 career mark and has banked $1,806,597 in lifetime earnings.
The bay horse is out of the winning Fortunate Prospect mare Flambe', who is a full sister to the dam of Grade 2 victor and dual classic-placed Musket Man. This is also the family of champion and classic-placed Silent Screen as well as English highweight and Group 1 winner Mujahid.
"She did what she needed to do. She's getting good, and I guess she's getting ready to start her new career," said Plesa, noting that Successful Song is scheduled to be taken out of training and be bred. "This easily could have been (her last start), that was the plan unless they change their minds. We'll see what happens.
"Every year that we've had her since she was two, we've sent her to the farm. Under normal circumstances, she'd be at the farm right now, resting for about 45 days," he remarked. "Again, the plans are to breed her, but no matter what, she'd be leaving after this race to go to the farm for one reason or another."
Successful Song paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20 to earn her second straight stakes score at Gulfstream. Speak Easy Gal had 2 3/4 lengths to spare on My Pal Chrisy, while Delray Lady took fourth by nine lengths over Tale of Peace. Score Boyera and Mud Honey completed the order under the line.
Successful Song entered the Distaff off a half-length victory in the Ocala on December 30. That was the six-year-old bay's first win at Gulfstream from seven starts, though she found prior success at Calder when taking the Judy's Red Shoes and Bea Oxenberg Memorial.
Successful Song spent last summer racing at Monmouth Park, adding a win in the Lighthouse and placings in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher, Monmouth Beach and Lady's Secret to her line. Now boasting four stakes wins and nine black-type placings, the Florida-bred improved her scorecard to 27-8-5-5, $597,538.
As a daughter of the multiple stakes-winning Sultry Song mare Song for Annie, Successful Song comes from the same female family as champion Caressing and multiple Grade 1 king Sea Cadet.
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