HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Treadway Racing Stable’s Maraud needed the length of the stretch to overcome the pacesetting Speed Franco but ultimately found himself the victor in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
After breaking well from post 2 under John Velazquez, Maraud tucked right in behind the rail-breaking Speed Franco and tracked him closely through opening splits of :23.89 and :48.56. As the rest of the field made a move for the lead through the far turn, Velazquez waited until the top of the stretch before tipping out and commencing a challenge. The two colts locked into battle the length of the grandstand before the Todd Pletcher-trained Maraud stretched out late to win by a neck in a final time of 1:41.01 for the 8 1/2-furlong turf event.
“There was not too much speed in the race, and after speaking with Todd, he said if it doesn’t look like there’s too much speed, let me use my horse for the first part,” Velazquez said. “On the lead, he was really tough. He didn’t run as close to the lead, so when I asked him at the 1/4-pole, he ran away with me a little.”
A three-way photo finish for third went to Therapist run after he initially refused to load into gate 6 at the start. Hawkish took fourth by a head over Neepawa, with sixth going to Renaisance Frolic. Last was Eye of a Jedi after he refused to move when the gates swung open.
Maraud’s victory was his first stakes score after two previous attempts. The 3-year-old son of Blame improved his record to 5-3-0-2 with career earnings of $164,010 and may stay at Gulfstream Park for the $125,000 Cutler Bay on March 31 or ship out for his next start.
“I’m not sure what’s next,” Pletcher said. “There’s the race on Florida Derby Day, or I might wait until Keeneland. We’ll see how he comes out of it.”
Maraud returned $7 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Speed Franco brought back $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while Therapist paid $3 to show.