HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — The photo-finish ending to the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes was one that trainer Todd Pletcher never had to sweat. That’s because the one-two finishers — Grand Sonata and Chanceux — are both in the care of Gulfstream’s leading trainer each of the past 18 years.
“I felt bad for the other horse, though,” Pletcher said of front-running Chanceux after Grand Sonata nipped his stablemate at the wire in the one-mile turf stakes. “He ran his heart out. Just got nailed the last jump. But both horses ran great.”
Under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, Grand Sonata put in a determined bid in late stretch to barely get past Chanceux.
“He’s got a tremendous turn of foot, so we were relying on that,” Gaffalione said. “I could tell around the turn I had a ton of horse.”
Jockey Luis Saez sent Chanceux through soft opening fractions and nearly had enough left in the tank at the end to prevail. But Grand Sonata was just a tick better, closing late to get his head in front at the wire for his first stakes win.
Grand Sonata, a 3-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro and owned by Whisper Hill Farm LLC, was coming off a troubled fifth-place effort Nov. 27 in the Central Park Stakes at Aqueduct.
“He had a really rough trip last time at Aqueduct,” Pletcher said. “It cost him. He was stuck down inside and couldn’t get extricated until late.”
Pletcher said he has no immediate plans for Grand Sonata and didn’t dismiss the possibility of putting him back on dirt in his next start. The colt broke his maiden on the dirt at Keeneland in October.
“It’s something we’ll look into,” Pletcher. said. “I just think, as a young horse, he’s been a little better on the turf. But he’s got a dirt pedigree and at some point we might step out. They’ve also got a great turf program here, so you hate not to take advantage of it.”
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Photo: Grand Sonata and Chanceux getting their photo finish. (Lauren King)