HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After failing to survive the Kentucky Derby trail, Thoroughbred Champions Training Center’s Gladiator King shortened back up to his preferred distance and made every step a winning one in Saturday’s Hutcheson Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Free $20 - 728x90

Breaking briskly from post 3 under Leonel Reyes at 12/1 odds, Gladiator King quickly took command and posted opening fractions of :22.17 and :45.11 while Topper T gave chase to his outside. Dispatching of that rival nearing the top of the stretch, Gladiator King turned for home still full of run and drew off sharply. The Jamie Mejia trainee crossed with a 4-length advantage in a final time of 1:10.88 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.

“I am very happy to win the stakes,” Reyes said. “He is a good horse. He broke good and went to the lead and I went on with him. He tried very hard all the way.”

The 4/5 favorite Federal Case was left with too much to do after falling behind early and was only able to just get up for second in the shadow of the wire, finishing 3/4 of a length ahead of a weakened Topper T. In the Loop was never in the running and completed the order of finish for the short field. Lutsky was scratched.

Gladiator King’s win was his first since taking the 6-furlong Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 15 and broke a five-race losing streak that included failed attempts in the Pasco Stakes, the Holy Bull Stakes (G2), and the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The 3-year-old son of Curlin improved his record to 12-4-1-1 with $170,500 earned.

“His [form] was going down, but now he is back,” said Mejia, who also indicated that his colt’s next start would likely come at Churchill Downs when that track opens its spring meet in late April. Gladiator King won his first two career races sprinting over the Gulfstream Park West turf, so perhaps the 5-furlong William Walker Stakes on April 27 is in his sights.

Gladiator King returned $27 to win and $7 to place, while Federal Case paid $2.20 to place. There was no show betting.