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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hembree came all the way up from the rear to win Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park. This was the first race and win of the year for the 5-year-old son of Proud Citizen who brought his career earnings above $500k with his win today.
Uncle B and Abiding Star both broke well from the outside and were hurried to the front to join Siding Spring on the lead into the first turn. Uncle B settled just off the leaders into the backstretch and was joined by Siem Riep and the post-time favorite Mr Cub while Hembree sat at the back of the pack. Into the second turn, Abiding Star maintained the lead into the second turn but quickly faded to the rear. Hembree made a strong move on the outside into the stretch to challenge and eventually pass Uncle B who had sole possession the lead at the top of the stretch. Mr Cub also made a bid at Uncle B, but drifted out wide, impeded with Krampus, and despite finishing second was DQ-d to fifth. Hembree’s late stretch run was enough to finish first ahead of the DQ-d Mr Cub and Uncle B. Cowboy Culture finished behind Uncle B and Krampus finished fifth, awarded fourth.
“I got a perfect trip. I let the horse be where he is comfortable. When I asked him, he took off. He was flying home,” jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said.
Hembree is trained by Michael Maker and owned by Three Diamonds Farm. With a final time of 1:27.06, Hembree set a Gulfstream Park track record at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
“As far back as he was, I thought he was in the clear down the lane. He had some time off after his last effort and had trained forwardly since, and he ran as we expected,” trainer Michael Maker said. “The two turns didn’t bother me, but I loved the 7 ½ distance. He was flying, and I thought for sure he’d get there. I felt confident coming off the turn.”
Hembree returned $7.00 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. Uncle B brought back $8.40 to place and $5.60 to show, while Cowboy Culture paid $9.40 to show.
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