HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Matthew Schera’s Island Commish fought hard against a stubborn Get Smokin in the stretch before prevailing late to win Saturday’s $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 8 under Paco Lopez at 6/1 odds, Island Commish sat a close stalking position in second behind the rail-breaking Get Smokin, sent off at 11/1. Jose Ortiz piloted Get Smokin through opening fractions of :24.41 and :47.81 while Island Commish watched closely.
Ranging up alongside the pacesetter in the far turn, Island Commish tried to take a clear lead as he straightened for home, but Get Smokin had plenty left in the tank and fought back gamely along the rail. The two fought heads apart for much of the stretch, but in the late stages, Island Commish was able to push forward to secure victory by a 1/2-length.
Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., Island Commish completed the 7 1/2-furlong event over the firm turf course in a final time of 1:28.25.
“We thought he was coming up to the race in good form, as good as he can get,” said Joseph, Jr. “We didn’t know if he had the ability to win this kind of race, but we thought now was the time to try. 7 1/2 is his distance, so we thought to give him a shot. Matt Schera, who bought him, said go ahead and take a chance.”
Get Smokin held second by 2 lengths over Summer to Remember, who tracked the early pace from fourth but was unable to capitalize late. The 2/1 favorite Irish Mias attempted to rally from the rear but came up short, settling for fourth.
King Theo, Mystic Lancelot, Yesterdayoncemore, and Bless the Kitten completed the order of finish. Ny Traffic was scratched as a main track only entry.
Island Commish’s win was his third straight following a pair of starter allowance scores at Gulfstream Park West and improved his overall record to 6-4-0-1. The 3-year-old son of Commissioner, purchased for $32,000 as a yearling, has now earned $129,740.
“I wanted to come from a little bit behind like we did at (Gulfstream Park West),” Lopez said. “He was second and relaxed really good. At the 3/8, I saw that the horse in front was going good, so I asked him a little bit and he gave me a good run.”
Island Commish returned $14.60 to win, $8 to place, and $5.20 to show. Get Smokin brought back $12 to place and $7.40 to show, while Summer to Remember paid $3.80 to show.