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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After graduating in the Proud Man at a mile on turf last time out, Gentry Farm’s Eldon’s Prince handled the cutback to 7 furlongs and the surface switch to dirt to capture Saturday’s $75,000 Armed Forces at Gulfstream Park.
On the same card, Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy E. Dunne, and trainer Patrick Biancone’s Diamond Wow made her family proud capturing the $75,000 Our Dear Peggy to remain undefeated in 2 starts.
The Armed Forces, a stakes for 2-year-olds originally scheduled to be run at a mile on turf, co-headlined Saturday’s 12-race program with the Our Dear Peggy, a mile turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies that was also run at 7 furlongs on dirt.
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Eldon’s Prince, a long-striding son of Cairo Prince who was sent to post as the 7/5 favorite in a field reduced by scratches to eight starters, got away seventh and made steady progress along the backstretch as Golden Juan and Night Jumper vied for the lead while setting fractions of 22.55 and 45.48 seconds for the first 1/2-mile.
Eldon’s Prince, who launched a three-wide drive leaving the backstretch under Edgard Zayas, built up momentum on the far turn to enter contention while going four-wide on the turn into the homestretch. No Nay Franklin, who stalked the early pacesetters, got the jump on the favorite to take the lead in the stretch, where he put up a good fight but was unable to hold off the winner.
“We didn’t want to change surfaces so quick. We always wanted to try him on dirt later down the lane at a longer distance. We talked it over with A.P. Gentry, the owner of Gentry Farm, and he said, ‘Roll the dice and see what happens,’” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He always trained well on dirt. He’s going to want to run longer, a mile, a mile and 1/8; the longer, the better. He just has the ability to overcome something that is not his niche.”
Eldon’s Prince, who ran 7 furlongs in 1:25.02, debuted on turf and finished a late-running second in a 5-furlong dash August 1. Three weeks later, the Ontario-bred colt romped to a 6-length victory in the Proud Man.
Patrick Biancone-trained No Nay Franklin, who was making only his second start after losing by a rapidly-diminishing neck in a third-place finish at 5-furlongs on turf, was 6 lengths clear of a tiring Golden Juan.
Eldon’s Prince was Zayas’ only mount on the day after the Spring/Summer Meet’s leading rider was unseated from his mount and fell hard to the track.
“Edgard gave him a great ride. He fell heavily (Friday),” Joseph Jr. said. “He showed guts to ride this horse today. It shows how tough these jockeys are.”
Diamond Wow, who had previously debuted with a 3-length victory in a 5-furlong maiden special weight race on turf at Gulfstream, is scheduled to run next at Keenland in either the October 8 Alcibiadies (G1) at 1 1/16 miles on dirt or the October 13 Jessamine (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
“She’s special,” said Biancone after the daughter of Lookin At Lucky’s 1 3/4-length victory. “If she comes out good and is training good, we’re planning to bring her to Keeneland.”
Diamond Wow ($4.80) is out of Patriotic Diamond, who is a half-sister to Biancone-trained Diamond Oops, a son of Lookin At Lucky who is a multiple graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf.
“Turf, dirt, it made no difference,” said Biancone, who reported that Patriotic Diamond is back in foal to Lookin At Lucky. “I like to start my 2-year-olds at 5 furlongs on turf because I don’t want them to have a hard race. Sometimes they win, sometimes they finish second. She won because she’s very talented. Today, she waited and took a lot of kick-back.”
Diamond Wow, who stalked the early pace before moving to the lead on the turn into the homestretch, shook off a strong challenge by Harper Be Good in mid-stretch on her way to a 1 3/4-length victory. The Kentucky-bred filly ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.67 under Romero Maragh.
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