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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Ed Plesa Jr.’s faith in Miles Ahead paid off handsomely when the red-hot gelding stepped up to the graded stakes ranks with an impressive win in Saturday’s $200,000 Smile Sprint Invitational (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
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Miles Ahead broke from the far post 8 as the 3/1 second choice under Victor Espinoza and tracked outside Willy Boi, Chance It, and Shivaree through opening fractions of :22.55 and :45.46.
Willy Boi took a narrow lead heading into the far turn, but Miles Ahead ranged up to steal command at the 1/4 pole and rounded the corner with a slim advantage.
A re-breaking Chance It made a late push but Miles Ahead was too strong in the final jumps, eventually crossing a 1/2-length clear while completing the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:09.61.
“It was nice that I was on the outside and I was able to control the race the whole way and see what the inside horses wanted to do,” said Espinoza, who picked up the mount after Edwin Gonzalez was thrown from his horse in the previous race. “It worked out perfect. It was a pretty talented horse I rode.”
Chance It was 2 1/4 lengths clear of the 8/5 favorite Diamond Oops, who attempted to rally from well off the pace but was left with too much to do.
Willy Boi, Double Crown, Frosted Grace, Ournationonparade, and Shivaree completed the order of finish.
Miles Ahead’s win came in his open stakes debut and improved his overall record to 16-8-2-1. The 4-year-old Competitive Edge gelding has now earned $260,960 for co-owners David Melin, Leon Ellman, and Laurie Plesa, who purchased him for $175,000 as an unraced juvenile.
“He’s an improving horse… one of those horses you have to have patience with,” Plesa Jr. said. “Some of these horses are late developers and he’s come around nicely.”
Miles Ahead returned $8.60 to win, $4.20 to place, and $2.80 to show. Chance It brought back $4.40 to place and $2.80 to show. Diamond Oops paid $2.80 to show.
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