Eye of the Jedi Stares Down Rivals in Saturday’s Coaltown

June 14, 2020

Favored Diamond Oops Second, Math Wizard Fifth

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Eye of the Jedi stared down the most imposing rivals of his career Saturday at Gulfstream Park and pulled off a 17-1 upset victory in the $55,000 Coaltown Handicap.

The Steve Budhoo-owned and –trained 5-year-old gelding rallied far off the pace to defeat multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed Diamond Oops by 1 ¼ lengths in the mile overnight handicap, in which Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner Math Wizard finished fifth.

“He’s a good horse. These are old tough veterans that he beat. They don’t come back in a race; they go,” Budhoo said. “He’s just coming into his own. He ran a good race last time and ran fourth in the Hal’s Hope (G3) before that.”

Eye of the Jedi, who captured the Sea of Tranquility Stakes during Gulfstream’s 2019 Summer Meet, rated well off the pace set by Wentz, who put up fractions of 23.86 and 46.17 seconds for the first half mile while pressed by Diamond Oops, the even-money favorite. Diamond Oops moved to the lead without encouragement from jockey Luca Panici on the turn into the homestretch and appeared to be on his way to a comfortable victory when the Patrick Biancone-trained gelding suddenly stalled, giving Eye of the Jedi a chance to build momentum while rallying four-wide into the stretch. Diamond Oops kicked back into gear through the stretch, but was no match for Eye of the Jedi and jockey Marcos Meneses.

“The last time, I made a little mistake with the horse,” Meneses said. “Today, it was perfect. He broke good from the gate, I helped him a little bit, and he had a perfect trip. I liked being outside. The trainer did a great job. It was a difficult race, but the horse was doing perfect and he got the job done.”

Red Crescent, who stalked the pace three wide, finished third, a length behind Diamond Oops and ahead of 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Garter and Tie. Math Wizard made a mild bid to enter contention at the top of the stretch before fading to fifth, another neck back.

Eye of the Jedi carried 118 pounds, seven fewer than Diamond Oops, who conceded between two and 12 pounds to his eight rivals.

“I only race him sparingly,” Budhoo said. “He’s always gives his best and he’s sound.”

Gulfstream Park Press Release 

Photo: Eye of the Jedi wins the Coaltown Handicap. Credit: Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson 

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