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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Reverting back to dirt proved to be the correct decision for trainer Patrick Biancone’s Diamond Oops, who was able to get up just in time to capture Saturday’s $250,000 Smile Sprint Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 2 under Julien Leparoux at 6/1 odds, Diamond Oops sat back early while Jalen Journey and Royal Squeeze dueled through opening fractions of :22.74 and :45.31. Ranging up close to the leaders in the far turn, Diamond Oops tipped out five-wide at the top of the stretch for the run home.
Responding alertly, Diamond Oops steadily reeled in his foes with each step until he reached Jalen Journey up front. Though the pacesetter fought back gamely, Diamond Oops was able to wear him down before crossing with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:09.92 for the 6-furlong sprint over the good main track.
“He broke very, very sharp and I kind of let the speed go a little bit,” Leparoux said. “I sat behind them around the turn. It got tight so he sort of stepped back a little, but when I gave him a little room, he gave me a big run.”
Sent postward as the 6/5 favorite, Jalen Journey was 1 1/2 lengths clear in second. The rest of the field was tightly-bunched at the wire, with a photo finish needed to determine third through seventh. Fast Pass‘ late gain in the stretch was enough to place him third by a neck over a fading Royal Squeeze. Garter and Tie was a head behind in fifth, while Cautious Giant and Proforma were each a neck back to complete the order of finish.
Diamond Oops’ win was his first since taking the Buffalo Man Stakes here on December 9, 2017, and improved his record to 8-4-0-1 with $305,110 earned for co-owners Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy Dunn, and Biancone. The 4-year-old gelded son of Lookin At Lucky made only one start between then and May 27, 2019, when he made the first of two straight starts sprinting on the turf. The Smile Sprint was his first time back on the main track, and it appears he will stay there.
“He’s a better horse on the dirt,” Biancone said.
Diamond Oops returned $15.20 to win, $5.60 to place, and $3.60 to show. Jalen Journey brought back $3.20 to place and $2.60 to show, while Fast Pass paid $6.80 to show.
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