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Unified Holds Off Mind Your Biscuits in G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Centennial Farms’ Unified fired fresh off an eight-month layoff Saturday, registering a front-running victory in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) over favored Mind Your Biscuits.

Sent to post as the 2-1 second favorite in a field of six, Unified prevailed by a neck over the fast-closing 4-5 favorite to win his fourth race in five career starts.

Unified launched his career at Gulfstream with a front-running, three-length victory just over a year ago before scoring back-to-back graded-stakes victories in the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct and the Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont. His highly promising sophomore campaign came to a screeching halt after finishing a distant fifth in the Pegasus Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park last June.

“He’s a fast horse. He proved that last year. He trained really super the last three weeks. He didn’t really like breaking from the 1 [hole]. But when you’re fresh like this and come popping out of there, you end up being the best speed, at least that time, anyway,” trainer James Jerkens said.

Unified rocketed to the lead from his No. 1 post position to show the way along the backstretch, as Mind Your Biscuits settled in fifth after an alert start. Unified set fractions of 22.37 (seconds) and 44.71 for the first half-mile of the 6 ½-furlong event, stalked by Early Entry. The son of Candy Ride sprinted to a clear lead on the far turn and appeared on his way to a commanding victory. However, Mind Your Biscuits launched an eye-catching sweep under Joel Rosario on the final turn, with a lengthened stride in the stretch drive, only to fall short of catching Unified.

“Jimmy left it up to me. He said, ‘We have the horse with speed outside of us [Delta Bluesman], but if he breaks very sharp and you think you can be there, go ahead.’ He broke really sharp and I took the lead as easy as I could, and when I asked him to run, he responded. I’m very happy with him. Jimmy did a great job, as always,” said Ortiz.

“He was comfortable the whole way, and when I asked him to go at the three-sixteenths, he gave me everything he had,” added 2016’s winningest rider in the U.S. “I knew somebody was coming on the outside, and when I looked and saw who it was, I celebrated, because Mind Your Biscuits is a tough horse, a nice horse, and he closes hard every time.”

Unified ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.30 in his 2017 debut. Mind Your Biscuits, who captured the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita in his most recent start on Dec. 26, finished 4 ¼ lengths clear of Squadron A.

“Unified is a really nice horse. Let’s take nothing away from him. He ran a great race,” said Mind Your Biscuit’s trainer Chad Summers. “He got away on an early lead. I thought our horse ran great. Like I’ve said – our end goal is Dubai [$2 million Golden Shaheen] a month from today.”

Jerkens didn’t reveal a specific goal for Unified’s next start, but did express his belief that the Kentucky-bred colt would seem capable of stretching out to a mile in the future.

“I wouldn’t rule out a mile – a one-turn mile at Belmont. It will be tough to get him to rate after this, sending him out of there like a quarter horse, but I think he is pretty sensible, and you can shut him down in the mornings, if you want,” Jerkens said. “You definitely need to look at the Met Mile for sure, with his easy speed. Belmont can be so speed-favoring, especially in the spring time, and you can get a little further than you would otherwise. [The Met] would be a big race to go for, for sure.”

Unified returned $6.60, $3.40, and $2.80. Mind Your Biscuits returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Squadron A returned $3.40. Early Entry, Divine Warrior, and Delta Bluesman completed the order of finish.

$100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) Quotes

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens (Unified): “He’s a fast horse. He proved that last year. He trained really super the last three weeks. He didn’t really like breaking from the 1 [hole]. But when you’re fresh like this and come popping out of there, you end up being the best speed, at least that time, anyway. I told [Ortiz], if he breaks with the field, go on with him, because he is not going to like anybody crossing over him and throwing dirt in his face.”

About being on his left lead in the stretch. “He’s a little stubborn about [changing leads] in the morning. The exercise rider that gets on him in the mornings said we shouldn’t make a big deal about it because you can get horses too riled up and rank when you worry about that too much. We pretty much let him do what he wants. And like Jose said, he didn’t make a big deal about it.”

Plans? “I wouldn’t rule out a mile. A one-turn mile at Belmont. It will be tough to get him to rate after this, sending him out of there like a quarter horse, but I think he is pretty sensible and you can shut him down in the mornings, if you want. You definitely need to look at the Met Mile for sure. With his easy speed. Belmont can be so speed-favoring, especially in the spring time, and you can get a little further than you would otherwise. [The Met] would be a big race to go for, for sure.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz (Unified): “[Trainer] Jimmy [Jerkens] left it up to me. He said we have the horse with speed outside of us [Delta Bluesman], but if he breaks very sharp and you think you can be there, go ahead. He broke really sharp and I took the lead as easy as I could, and when I asked him to run, he responded. I’m very happy with him. Jimmy did a great job, as always.”

“He was comfortable the whole way, and when I asked him to go at the three-sixteenths, he gave me everything he had. I knew somebody was coming on the outside, and when I looked and saw who it was, I celebrated, because Mind Your Biscuits is a tough horse, a nice horse, and he closes hard every time.”

Trainer Chad Summers (Mind Your Biscuits): “Unified is a really nice horse. Let’s take nothing away from him. He ran a great race. He got away on an early lead. I thought our horse ran great. Like I’ve said, our end goal is Dubai a month from today.”

Source: Gulfstream Park

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