HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After watching his trainee, Fast Pass, fall a nose short of victory in the $110,000 Express on Saturday’s Claiming Crown card at Gulfstream Park, Peter Walder’s day brightened considerably with victories in the $110,000 Glass Slipper and $110,000 Iron Horse.
Walder and Ron Paolucci Racing LLC visited the winner’s circle with Liza Star ($12.40) following the Glass Slipper, a mile stakes for fillies and mares that have raced for a claiming price of $12,500 or lower, and Yes I See ($135.20) after a huge upset over stablemate Sensational Ride in the Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $8,000 or lower.
“It was an awesome day,” Walder said. “It was a zap away from being a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.”
Ironically, Walder and Paolucci won the Glass Slipper and Iron Horse in 2015.”It’s crazy,” Walder said. “Same races. We won with Moonshine Promise in the Glass Slipper and Run with Bulls in the Iron Horse.”
When asked what the victories meant to him, Paolucci said; “Considering I’ve modeled myself after Ken Ramsey, this means everything. Winning two Claiming Crown races is so special. You know I can’t really afford to play at the highest level and spend millions of dollars on horses. But guys that claim everyday like Imaginary Stable – I’m happy to see those kind of guys win, because they’re in the claiming box every day. So it’s nice when you put the work in and see it pay off in the end.”
“Winning is unreal, this is the best of the best who claim and it’s what keeps our game going. The guys who claim $5,000 and 7,000 horses just don’t get enough credit and for Gulfstream Park to put this kind of day on year after year and let us run for this kind of money is honestly the best thing you can get if you’re a guy like me.”
Liza Star dominated eight fillies and mares in the Glass Slipper, one of nine stakes on the Claiming Crown program. The 5-year-old mare broke alertly under Ricardo Santana Jr., who was able to relax the 5-year-old daughter of Cool Coal Man despite being pressed by Cuddle Kitten, the 8-5 favorite ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, along the backstretch. After setting a sensible first-quarter of a mile in 24.30 seconds, Liza Star picked up the pace to complete the first half-mile in 46.84 seconds. Liza Star continued on to put away the favorite turning into the homestretch before striding out to a decisive victory. Petra Liza closed to finish second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Cuddle Kitten.
“A lot of people doubted that she could get a mile, but when Ricardo got the first quarter in 24, it was all over,” Walder said.
Liza Star, who was claimed for $6,250 at Gulfstream Park May 18, ran a mile in 1:36.62 while collecting her fifth victory in six starts for her new connections.
“I can’t take any credit for claiming her. Ron picked her out. I asked him if he was drinking his bathwater, but obviously he knew what he was doing,” Walder said. “We clicked. I can’t say I did anything special. I just give her time between races and treat her like a rock start. Ron’s great with placing horses with trainers with certain niches.”
Yes I See, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, was well off stablemate and pacesetter Sensational Ride around the first turn and down the backstretch but drove the length of the stretch to get up by a neck at the finish to win the Iron Horse.
“They worked together the other day and [Yes I See] beat [Sensational Ride],” Walder said. “I put the blinkers on for the work and I told Rajiv to never mind the recent form.
“I liked them both in the race. Ron gave me enough time to work with them.”
Via Gulfstream Park Press release