Miles Ahead Flaunts Class in Rapid Transit

December 4, 2021

                          Zayas Guides Face of Victory to Express Score

                            Blue Steel Shows his Mettle in Iron Horse   

 HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s Miles Ahead, a graded-stakes winner in a race for horses that have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or less in 2020-2021, flaunted his class Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

 The Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained 4-year-old gelding, who captured the Smile Sprint (G3) on the July 3 Summit of Speed program at Gulfstream, closely stalked the pace set by Legal Deal before moving to the lead at the top of the stretch and prevailing by a comfortable 1 ½ lengths in the $85,000 Rapid Transit.

 The seven-furlong Rapid Transit was one of nine starter stakes in the Saturday’s Claiming Crown, an annual event that celebrates the blue-collar horses that support daily racing programs at racetracks throughout the country.

 Miles Ahead ($4.60) broke his maiden for a $12,500 claiming price by 12 ¼ lengths in January 2020 after being eased in his debut over turf. The son of Competitive Edge has steadily improved with age while establishing himself as one of the top sprinters on dirt in South Florida.

 Miles Ahead ran seven furlongs in 1:21.99 to give jockey Paco Lopez his fourth victory of the day, including three Claiming Crown wins.

 Legal Deal, ridden by Edwin Gonzalez, finish second, two lengths ahead of Pudding and jockey Leonel Reyes.

            Miles Ahead is likely to return to open stakes company for his next start.

 “There’s a $100,000 race in Maryland (Dec. 26 Dave’s Friend), and there’s a race here (G3 Harlan’s Holiday, Dec. 19) that’s coming up a little two quick,” Plesa said.

               Zayas Guides Face of Victory to Express Score

 Under a heads-up ride by Edgard Zayas, Mercy Man Racing’s Face of Victory ($11) captured Saturday’s $75,000 Express, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that have run for a claiming price of $8000 or less in 2020-2021.

 A split-second decision at the 3/8ths pole was the key to the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 5-year-old gelding’s upset victory over heavily favored Kalu, who broke sharply to take the early lead. Face of Victory, who broke from the rail post position and was ridden aggressively by Zayas, slipped inside the favorite on the backstretch. Gulfstream’s Fall Meet titlist quickly thought better of an inside challenge, easing up on his mount long enough to be able to guide him off the rail to make an outside challenge in the stretch. Face of Victory kicked on through the stretch to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths.

“Saffie gave me a lot of confidence in the paddock. He said, ‘Take it too [Kalu]. His only weakness is at the end where he tends to stop a little bit. He said, ‘Take it to him early if you can. Make him earn his money,’” Zayas said. “At the three-eighths pole, the other horse started to make his move early. At that point, I gave my horse a little breather and took him outside. He came running at the end.”

Face of Victory, who was claimed for $10,000 in August, ran six furlongs in 1:10.52 to upset Kalu, who held on to second by a head over third-place finisher Aequor.

 Zayas and Joseph came right back to win the $95,000 Tiara in the following race with Sugar Fix.

                 Blue Steel Shows his Mettle in Iron Horse   

James Woodruff’s Blue Steel showed his mettle while holding on to win Saturday’s $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Sterling Memorial, a 1 1/16-mile starter stakes for 3-year-olds and up that have run for a claiming price of $8000 or less in 2020-2021.

Trained by Jeff Hiles in Kentucky, Blue Steel ($9.40) had won his last four starts on dirt by a combined 22 ¼ lengths at Indiana Grand, Ellis Park and Belterra Park, held on to win by a half-length after leading most of the way under jockey Paco Lopez. The 5-year-old gelding ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.61 to prevail over Zanesville, who finished 2 ½ lengths clear of Brasstown.

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