Owner/Trainer Steve Budhoo gets his first graded stakes win with Eye of a Jedi who he purchased for $1500
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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Owner/trainer Steve Budhoo’s Eye of a Jedi, who has beaten his share of graded-stakes winners, ran the race of his life in Saturday’s $100,000 Ghostzapper (G3) at Gulfstream Park to win the first graded stakes of his career.
The Ghostzapper. a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses, was one of 10 stakes on a 14-race program featuring 10 stakes and headlined by the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa.
Already graded stakes-placed twice during the Championship Meet, Eye of a Jedi ($10.40) defeated favored Last Judgment by 5 ½ while running the 1 1/8-miles in 1:48.83 and rewarding Budhoo with his first graded-stakes success.
Ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, the hard-knocking 6-year-old gelding was rated off a hotly contested pace set by Last Judgment and pressed by Superfecto during fractions of 23.60 and 46/43 seconds for the first half-mile. Castellano asked Eye of a Jedi for some run, and the son of Eye of a Leopard advanced steadily on the far turn to enter contention on the turn into the homestretch. Mike Maker-trained Last Judgement continued to show the way at the top of the stretch but proved no match for the fresher legs of Eye of a Jedi, who drew away to a comfortable victory.
Last Judgment, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Jose Ortiz, held second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Superfecto and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
Eye of the Jedi, who finished second behind Tax in the Dec. 12 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and lost a photo in the Jan. 23 Fred W. Hooper (G3), was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).
Winning Owner/Trainer Steve Budhoo (Eye of a Jedi): “I love to train him for this track, because he loves this track. I had an invitation to go to Dubai for the [Godolphin] Mile, but because of the coronavirus, I said, ‘I’ll stay here.’ I’m happy I did.”
“The good thing is sound. He’s a very good horse.”
Winning Jockey Javier Castellano, Eye of a Jedi): “I’m really excited. Steve [Budhoo] is a great guy. He works hard. He’s dedicated to every single one of his horses. It’s nice to see good things happen for the little people. They make racing. I’m very lucky to ride this horse and win the race.”
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Gulfstream Park, Coglianese Photos, Lauren King