HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Marylou Whitney’s Bird Song took the lead after a half-mile and kept stablemates Realm and Tale of S’avall at bay down the stretch to earn his first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Fred W. Hooper at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile Hooper for 4-year-olds and up marked the third win through five races, and the second straight in a stakes for jockey Julien Leparoux, following the Grade 3, $100,000 Herecomesthebride with Dream Dancing.
Leparoux positioned Bird Song to the right of multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Mr. Jordan through an opening quarter-mile in 23.17 seconds until assuming the lead without resistance after a half in 46.06. Bird Song turned for home in front as Mr. Jordan began to retreat and was able to turn back late bids from Realm and Tale of S’avall, both trained by Barclay Tagg, to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:36.07 over a fast main track.
Realm was three-quarters of a length ahead of Tale of S’avall in third. Frammento, War Story, Mr. Jordan, 2-1 favorite Greenpointcrusader, and Hy Riverside completed the order of finish.
Bird Song returned $8.20, $4.20, and $3.00 at odds of 3-1. Realm brought back $5.20 and $3.80, while Tale of S’avall paid $5.20 to show.
Grade 3, $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Quotes
Trainer Ian Wilkes (Bird Song): “I think he did [need his last race]. It was a last-minute decision to go in [the race] last time, and this time, I had him ready.”
“He’s naturally fast. That’s his cruising speed, which is good. It’s great when they can do that.”
“He’s a Grade 3 winner. That’s a start. I can’t put into words how special it is to train a Grade 3 winner [for owner Marylou Whitney]. I’d love to get a Grade 1 for her. That’s what the goal is – to do that for her. She’s a special lady.”
“He got a late start. [Trainer] Nick [Zito] had him and he always said he could run. Nick told me that. He’s a good horseman. He knows. I always felt like I was playing catch-up with him last year, and I felt later in the year that he caught up where he should be.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux (Bird Song): “Today, there was not too much speed in the race, so I got him set up pretty nice, and he had a nice kick at the end. He’s a nice horse. Last time he ran a big race, and today, he ran an even bigger one. It’s a great day so far. I’m lucky to ride good horses on these big days. I hope I get three more.”
Source: Gulfstream Park