Owner/trainer Lilli Kurtinecz’s Manchurian High burst from the pack to run down Reporting Star in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf. If that sounds familiar, you’re right. Manchurian High and Reporting Star ran one-two in this same Florida-bred contest last year at Gulfstream Park.
Now an 8-year-old, Manchurian High hadn’t won a stakes in the interim. Indeed, the chestnut gelding was unplaced in six of his last eight, the exceptions being a third in the August 26 John’s Call at Saratoga and an October 2 Keeneland allowance victory. Sixth in the December 26 W.L. McKnight (G3) in his latest, Manchurian High went off at 7-1 in this title defense.
Reporting Star appeared to have the run of the race, tracking in second through splits of :49.19 and 1:14.07 on the good turf, and surging to the fore down the stretch. But Manchurian High threaded his way between foes for Luis Saez and won going away by a half-length. The son of The Daddy completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.89 and rewarded his backers with a $16.40 win mutuel.
Fundamental, bet down to even-money favoritism, placed third in his first stakes test against his elders. Old Time Hockey, the winner of the Millions Turf Preview at Gulfstream Park West, was along belatedly for fifth.
Manchurian High boosted his bankroll to $479,013 from a record of 40-10-3-9. His only other stakes score came in the 2014 Laurel Turf Cup, but he has placed in a handful of stakes, including the 2010 Saratoga Special (G2) and the 2014 running of the McKnight.
In the companion $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, even-money favorite Lori’s Store topped the Marty Wolfson exacta with her gamely rallying stablemate E B Ryder.
Under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Lori’s Store was an unhurried fourth through an opening quarter in :24.12. But as the pace crawled in :49.75 and 1:14.95, she crept into a much closer third, and was poised to pounce at the right instant down the lane.
E B Ryder, on the other hand, was anchored at the rear much of the way. Finishing strongly in this first start back from a five-month layoff, she closed the gap late to a half-length, and took the runner-up spot in this race for the second time. E B Ryder had also played second fiddle to Parranda here in 2014.
Defending champion Pink Poppy, who stole this race last year, employed the opposite style on Saturday. Like E B Ryder, she was disadvantaged by the set-up, and found trouble on the inside to boot. Still, Pink Poppy was beaten all of a length in third.
Lori’s Store negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.93 and paid $4 to win. Her scorecard now stands at 27-7-4-4, $327,865.
Originally campaigned by breeder Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, the El Prado mare was first past the post in the 2014 Florida Cup Distaff Turf, only to be demoted to third for interference. She was subsequently sold for $52,000 at the 2015 Keeneland January Sale, and her new owners, Miller Racing, transferred her to Wolfson. Lori’s Store scored a pair of stakes wins over this course last summer, the Spook Express and Soaring Softly. A barnstorming fourth off a slow pace in the November 21 My Charmer (G3), the 6-year-old was most recently a closing third in the December 12 South Beach.
Silver Trail Stables’ veteran Amelia’s Wild Ride prevailed in a frenetic finish to the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint, giving Chloe Bradley a stakes victory in her very first start as a trainer. Bradley has taken over from the suspended Ramon Preciado.
Reserved just about in midpack early by Jose Lezcano, Amelia’s Wild Ride got a split toward the inside in the stretch and outfinished 2-1 favorite Summation Time by a half-length. Amelia’s Wild Ride, the 123-pound highweight, was spotting Summation Time six pounds. Another half-length astern in third were the dead-heaters Jewel of a Cat and Simon Bar Sinister. Jewel of a Cat deserves credit for being the only pace attendant to stick around late. There was a significant scratch of 5-2 morning-line favorite Pure Sensation.
After clocking five furlongs in :58.51, Amelia’s Wild Ride returned $8.20 as the 3-1 second choice. The son of D’Wildcat won or placed in six stakes last year. Aside from taking the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint at this course and distance over Green Mask, he edged Ben’s Cat in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup and beat Mongolian Saturday in the off-the-turf Woodford (G3) at a muddy Keeneland. The 5-year-old, who was last seen finishing fourth in the November 25 Fabulous Strike on the Penn National dirt, improved his record to 32-10-3-7, $545,230.
Photos courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography, Manchurian High by Kenny Martin and Lori’s Store by Leslie Martin.