Seminole Chief victorious in the In Reality (Ryan Thompson)
David Joseph/Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Brad Grady and David Grund’s Seminole Chief pulled off a 12-1 upset victory in Saturday’s $300,000 In Reality, the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes final in which undefeated Bentornato came up short in his bid to sweep the series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited Florida stallions,
The 1 1/16-mile In Reality, in which Bentornato finished third in his first try around two turns, co-headlined Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream Park with the $300,000 My Dear Girl, the FSS final for 2-year-old fillies.
Seminole Chief’s record was considerably less impressive than that of Bentornato, the 1-5 favorite in a field of seven, going into the In Reality. The son of Girvin was shipped from Saratoga to Finger Lakes, where he broke his maiden by eight lengths Sept. 11, before going on to finish a troubled sixth behind Bentornato in the seven-furlong Affirmed, the second leg of the FSS series Oct. 21.
“I mentioned to Brad and David, ‘Can I please ship the horse to Finger Lakes with the intention to break his maiden and come down here for the series?” said trainer Jack Sisterson, explaining the decision to opt for a softer spot for Seminole Chief’s debut than he would have found at Aqueduct. “Here we are now. …This is about development. I can promise you if he went to New York, he mightn’t have broken his maiden and gotten the chance to come here.”
Seminole Chief, who was equipped with blinkers for the first time Saturday, broke alertly under Paco Lopez to become involved in a pacesetting tussle with Mattingly around the first turn and along the backstretch while putting up solid 23.43 and 46.69 seconds for the first half mile. Bentornato, who has shown brilliant speed in his first four starts, was wrangled back by Emisael Jaramillo to stalk the pacesetters into the far turn. Jaramillo made a three-wide move aboard the son of Valiant Minster on the turn into the homestretch, but the heavy favorite failed to come up with a winning kick, stalling in late stretch to finish third. Seminole Chief prevailed by a half length over a late-driving Secret Lover, who finished a half-length in front of Bentornato.
“He had a perfect trip. I can’t say anything about the trip that he had. The other horse was just better today. I think maybe [it was] the distance,” Bentornato’s trainer, Jose D’Angelo, said. “We’re going check him when we get back and regroup. He ran hard. He only lost by one length and a half. We’ll get him back and check him out and go from there.”
The $170,000 OBS March purchase had won three consecutive stakes heading into the In Reality. After rallying for a narrow debut victory at five furlongs July 1, the son of Valiant Minister overcame early bumping to register an eye-catching 4 ¼-length front-running score in six-furlong Proud Man Aug. 12. He came right back with a dominating 7 ½-length front-running win in the six-furlong FSS Dr. Fager and a 2 ¾-length score in the seven-furlong FSS Affirmed.
Seminole Chief, who ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.59, was bred by Grady, who owned also owned his sire, Girvin, a multiple-stakes winner who captured the 2017 Haskell (G1). Grund, who has owned Thoroughbreds for approximately 15 years including the Grade 1 winning Private Zone, was offered a partnership in Seminole Chief by Sisterson on behalf of Grady.
“[His jockey] mentioned he didn’t like the kickback [in the Affirmed], so we wanted to be forward, clearing the kickback,” Sisterson said of the decision to equip his colt with blinkers.
Mattingly, who finished second in the Affirmed, tired in the stretch to finish fourth 1 ¼ lengths behind Bentornato.