Trainer Mike Maker was supposed to win Saturday’s $200,000 Pan American (G2), but most forecast a victory for his 7-10 favorite Zulu Alpha at Gulfstream Park. Instead, stablemate Bemma’s Boy denied him at the wire to spring the 9-1 upset.
Unlike Zulu Alpha, who launched an early move hung out wide, Bemma’s Boy bided his time in a ground-saving spot for Florent Geroux. As Zulu Alpha grappled with 37-1 shot Current down the lane, Bemma’s Boy tipped out to deliver one late surge that propelled him past them both in a three-way photo.
The Paradise Farms runner got up by a neck while finishing 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:24.61. Zulu Alpha was a head up on Current, who showed more tactical foot than expected to press the pace. Channel Cat was along for fourth. Early leader Spooky Channel retreated to fifth, followed by Go Poke the Bear, Focus Group, Galleon Mast, and the eased Manicomio. Prince of Arabia was scratched.
Claimed for $30,000 at Churchill Downs last May, Bemma’s Boy cleared his second-level allowance condition at Keeneland and graduated to the graded stakes ranks. The Into Mischief gelding was a close fourth in the Nov. 16 River City (G3) and runner-up to stablemate Dot Matrix in the Jan. 20 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) in his latest. Bemma’s Boy has compiled a record of 18-5-1-2, $291,983.
Geroux later added the $100,000 Appleton (G3) with a dramatic last-to-first swoop aboard Social Paranoia, who topped the Todd Pletcher exacta with Sombeyay. Driving 1 1/4 lengths clear, the 6-1 shot sped the mile in 1:32.81. Social Paranoia duly generated buzz on social media as an apt winner in light of the coronavirus-forced social distancing.
But jockey Tyler Gaffalione aboard 39-10 favorite March to the Arch, a head away in third, believed that Social Paranoia didn’t practice the proper distancing. Gaffalione claimed foul, alleging that Geroux tightened up March to the Arch in deep stretch. The stewards disallowed the claim and allowed the result to stand.
The Elkstone Group’s Social Paranoia was picking up right where he left off. Last seen landing the Sept. 8 Dueling Grounds Derby in course-record time at Kentucky Downs, the Street Boss colt has also placed in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), American Turf (G2), Pennine Ridge (G3), and the 2018 Pilgrim (G3). He padded his bankroll to $837,760 from a 12-3-4-4 line.
Favorite backers had a more welcome result in the $100,000 Orchid (G3), courtesy of even-money Mean Mary who extended her winning streak to three. Trained by Graham Motion and piloted by Luis Saez, the Alex Campbell Jr. homebred went straight to the lead as in the Jan. 25 La Prevoyante (G3), but at a faster clip. Saez was able to give her a bit of a breather down the backstretch, and that proved clutch as Mean Mary held off Gentle Ruler by a length.
Mean Mary completed 1 3/8 miles in 2:11.73 to advance her scorecard to 6-4-1-0, $258,660. The daughter of Scat Daddy and Grade 1 victress Karlovy Vary has progressed rapidly since only beginning her career last fall.
The complexion of the $100,000 Sanibel Island changed following the scratch of morning-line favorite Newspaperofrecord, who had loomed large on the cutback to a flat mile.
Trainer Brendan Walsh was the principal beneficiary as he sent out the exacta, with the 5-1 La Signare stealing a march on the troubled 3-2 choice Zofelle. Rallying out wide with Gaffalione, La Signare bested her unlucky stablemate by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:33.12.
A French import campaigned by Madaket Stables, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron, and Bradley Thoroughbreds, La Signare improved her resume to 11-3-1-2, $227,539. The Siyouni mare had earned her stakes breakthrough by stealing the 2018 Wonder Again (G3), and she was shortening up from her The Very One (G3) third.
The Florida Derby Day stakes action began with the $100,000 Cutler Bay, where 9-5 favorite Decorated Invader made a sparkling sophomore debut. Hero of the Summer (G1) prior to a sneaky fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), the Christophe Clement pupil rolled from the tail of the field to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths. Decorated Invader clocked the mile in 1:33.12 under confident handling by Joel Rosario.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbook, and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader sports a mark of 5-3-1-0, $288,035. NYRA’s Turf Triple, scheduled to begin July 11 with the Belmont Derby Invitational, is the target for the Declaration of War colt.
The companion $100,000 Sanibel Island for 3-year-old fillies produced a nail-biting finish as Steadfast Stable’s Highland Glory mugged pacesetting Cheermeister at the wire for Paco Lopez. Bet down to 7-2 from a 12-1 morning line, the Barclay Tagg trainee stopped the timer in 1:34.42.
Highland Glory is now 2-for-2 on turf, having broken her maiden over the course last time out. The Sky Mesa filly, a full sister to Grade 1-placed multiple stakes scorer Highland Sky, has earned $106,580 from her 4-2-1-0 line.