HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Matthew Schera’s Glorious Empire burst sharply from the gate and never looked back en route to yet another scintillating gate-to-wire score, this time in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking brilliantly from the rail under Edgar Prado at 7/1 odds, Glorious Empire was given free rein to post early uncontested fractions of :23.57, :48.13, and 1:12.57. Still unpressured from the likes of fellow speed horse Blacktype as he hit the top of the stretch, Glorious Empire kicked clear with relative ease and was never asked for anything close to his best before crossing with a 2 1/2-length lead in a final time of 1:48.44 for the 9-furlong event over a turf course rated good.
“The instructions were very easy,” Prado said. “The horse loves to be on the lead. My only concern was (Blacktype). If the horse didn’t chase me, I was able to take a nice, easy lead and try to slow it down and have something left in the end, and that’s exactly what happened in the race. He broke sharp, I was able to put him in a good spot, and he was moving easy all the way around. When I asked him, he really gave me a good kick. He finished running really strong.”
Qurbaan made a strong move late to close the gap but proved no match for the winner and settled for second, passing Hi Happy late. Inspector Lynley came charging from the rear but experienced traffic trouble and could only muster fourth over Divisidero, while the lukewarm 7/2 favorite Almanaar flattened in the stretch and took sixth. Zulu Alpha crossed in seventh ahead of Doctor Mounty, while Projected, Postulation, a non-threatening Blacktype, and Mr Havercamp completed the order of finish. Oscar Nominated and the two Also-Eligibles – Revved Up and Zennor – were all scratched.
Glorious Empire’s win was his fourth in his last five starts, with his lone off-the-board performance coming last out in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Irish-bred 7-year-old gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor improved his record to 25-10-0-3 with earnings of $966,227.
“We had a great campaign in Saratoga and went into the Breeder’s Cup pretty confidently, but was a little disappointed in our run there, but ultimately just didn’t handle the turf,” Lawrence said. “We took good care of him and this was the next target for us; as he keeps checking off the list for us, he takes all the credit. With the 1 hole today, we planned it out where, if need be, we would sit back in second or third. He’s got such a big stride and he’s such a big, strong horse.”
Glorious Empire returned $17 to win, $9 to place, and $7.20 to show. Qurbaan brought back $8.60 to place and $5 to show, while Hi Happy paid $4.40 to show.