Both of Gulfstream Park’s turf stakes for three-year-olds Saturday went to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners runners campaigned in partnership. While Con Lima was handed the $100,000 Herecomesthebride S. (G3) upon the disqualification of another Eclipse colorbearer, Spanish Loveaffair, recent recruit Annex extended his record to 2-for-2 in the $100,000 Palm Beach S.
When 8-5 favorite Spanish Loveaffair burst clear in the stretch, the Mark Casse trainee looked a decisive 2 3/4-length winner. Then the inquiry sign flashed.
As the stewards conducted a review of an incident between Spanish Loveaffair and I Get It entering the far turn, the replay showed that the favorite came over on her rival. The pair bumped and scrimmaged, I Get It’s advance on the rail was stymied, and she stumbled before having to check abruptly. Dropping back to seventh, I Get It regrouped to take fourth and nearly grabbed third. That recovery suggested that I Get It was cost a better placing, and Spanish Loveaffair was demoted to fourth.
The beneficiary was Con Lima, the 2-1 second choice, who was overcoming a tough trip herself. In her case, though, the trouble was self-inflicted when she broke awkwardly. Instead of being up on the pace as usual, the Todd Pletcher filly dropped several lengths back in the pack early.
Meanwhile, Mail Order went forward through an opening quarter in :23.80, stalked by Joy of Painting and Spanish Loveaffair on the rail. When Joy of Painting advanced to press the leader at the half in :48.10, Spanish Loveaffair came off the fence, and I Get It took the invitation to slide into that spot. But Spanish Loveaffair then made it tight to try to close the door.
After Joy of Painting struck the front at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.85, Spanish Loveaffair angled out into the stretch, got herself organized, and drew away. Under Tyler Gaffalione, the first-past-the-post completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.30.
Con Lima rallied well to cross the wire second with Irad Ortiz, a clutch finish that saw her promoted to the victory.
“Our plan was to go to the lead but the filly (Con Lima), unfortunately, didn’t break that good,” Ortiz told Gulfstream publicity. “After that I just had to go to Plan B. That wasn’t even our Plan B. It was Plan C, I guess. She relaxed and just sat and waited for me. I had to start working on her a little early, but she performed well and kept coming. (Spanish Loveaffair) was a better filly today, but she’s a very good filly.”
Joy of Painting held third by a nose from the unlucky I Get It, followed by Lijana; comebacker Tobys Heart, who made a brief bid on the far turn before fading; Mail Order; and the ever-trailing Designer Ready.
With the stewards’ ruling, Con Lima improved her record to 8-4-4-0, $214,495, for the partnership of Eclipse, Joseph Graffeo, Del Toro, Eric Niklaus, and Troy Johnson. The daughter of Commissioner previously captured the Ginger Brew, and her trio of stakes placings includes last summer’s P.G. Johnson at Saratoga and the Jan. 30 Sweetest Chant last out.
Con Lima was bred by Lisa Kuhlmann in Texas. Her dam, the stakes-winning Consolidator mare Second Street City, is a half-sister to Saratoga stakes victress Trix in the City.
The 13-10 favorite after a sparkling debut from off the pace, Annex delivered another winning rally in his first stakes attempt in the Palm Beach. The difference, aside from the class hike, was that the Palm Beach featured a tear-away pacesetter in Arzak.
Trained by Bill Mott for LNJ Foxwoods and new partner Eclipse, Annex bided his time as many as 22 lengths back. Up front, Arzak opened up through unsustainable fractions of :22.38, :44.80, and 1:09.19. The field began to close the gap rounding the far turn. Hot Blooded, himself an isolated second early, was best positioned to catch Arzak in upper stretch, but the real dangers were swooping fast.
Scarlett Sky knifed between the laboring Arzak and Hot Blooded with a deft move, and wider out, Annex was exploding. Although Scarlett Sky continued to motor on the inside, Annex forced his head in front for Junior Alvarado. Thanks to the pace, the final time for the 1 1/16-mile Palm Beach (1:40.62) was considerably faster than the companion Herecomesthebride (1:41.30).
Chess’s Dream got up for third, overtaking Fighting Force. Next came Sigiloso, Cave Hill, Hot Blooded, and Arzak.
Annex, a flashy chestnut by Constitution, has now earned $84,140. Bred by William Harrigan and Mike Pietrangelo in Kentucky, he is out of You Make Me Sing, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to multiple Grade 1 star You.