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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL –Paul Pompa Jr.’s Converge benefited from a ground-saving trip to capture his 2016 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park, giving jockey Javier Castellano his fourth win on the Fountain of Youth (G2) Day program.
Converge, who hadn’t run since finishing second in the Awad Stakes at Belmont Park in his second lifetime start Oct. 30, closed with a rush to prevail over Giant Run by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.
“We planned on giving the horse just one start at Gulfstream to kick off his year. There are some big races in the summer for him. In between, there’s nothing put in stone but it’s a great way to start off the year,” trainer Chad Brown said.
The 3-year-old son of Sidney’s Candy broke last of 13 horses from the starting gate and settled well off the pace set by long shot American Phantom and pressed by Giant Run. The 5-2 favorite advanced on the inside before being briefly angled to the outside at the top of the stretch and cutting back to the inside for the stretch drive. Converge caught Giant Run inside the 16th-pole and edged away to victory. Ousby finished third, a nose behind Giant Run.
“We knew this horse doesn’t have any early speed and he [Castellano] would have to tuck him in off the break. We just said, ‘Take your chances and try to find someone live to follow on the inside.’ On this turf course, if you can work your way up and get within striking distance turning for home, it’s ideal. Javier just rode a masterful race and he had the horse beneath him to do it. He’s a real quality horse.”
Converge, who easily captured his debut in a maiden test for New York-bred horses at Belmont in September prior to running second in the Awad, ran 1 1/16 miles on a firm course in 1:40.64.
“I had a beautiful trip. I have to give Mr. Brown credit. I rode the horse the way he wanted to do it. It was the first time I rode the horse I never was on the horse before,” Castellano said. “The horse ran a beautiful race.”
Although he trains a very talented 3-year-old, Brown isn’t susceptible to Kentucky Derby Fever.
“He shows me no reason to try him on dirt. He’s shown early on that he’s at home on turf, so we’ll keep him on it,” said Brown, whose long-range goal with Converge is the Belmont Derby (G1) in July.
Manhattan Dan Romps to Easy Score in Texas Glitter
Platinum Seven and partners’ Manhattan Dan broke sharply from the starting gate and streaked to an easy five-length triumph in the $75,000 Texas Glitter, a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-olds that kicked off Saturday’s 13-race Fountain of Youth Day card.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, the Gary Contessa-trained colt ran five furlongs over a firm turf course in 54.97 seconds as the 2.40-1 second choice. Noholdingback Bear, the 2.10-1 favorite, finished second, two lengths ahead of Monster Bea.
Graded stakes-placed on dirt and turf during his juvenile campaign, Manhattan Dan set the pace into the stretch in the one-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 30 before fading to seventh. The Kentucky-bred colt benefited from the turn-back to five furlongs Saturday.
Source: Gulfstream Park
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