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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Holly Hill Stable’s Pacific Gale rolled to her second straight graded stakes victory at Gulfstream Park Saturday, scoring a dominating victory in the $100,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3) and providing jockey Junior Alvarado with his fourth of 5 victories and first of 2 stakes successes on a 12-race card.
The 22nd running of the Hurricane Bertie, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares, was supported on Saturday’s 12-race card by the $75,000 Texas Glitter, a 5-furlong turf dash for older horses, and the $75,000 Melody of Colors, a 5-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares.
Alvarado, who came back to ride Warrior’s Pride to victory in the Texas Glitter 2 races later on the card, has ridden 48 winners while riding full time during the Championship Meet for the first time in 12 years. The 36-year-old native of Venezuela had been highly successful while riding at Aqueduct during the winter months in past years.
“The support I’ve been receiving from the owners and trainers has been beyond what I was expecting,” said Alvarado, who rode his first winner in the U.S. at Gulfstream in 2007. “It’s been a really amazing experience and I can’t wait to come back again next winter.”
The John Kimmel-trained Pacific Gale ($3.80), who had gone winless in 17 straight starts before impressively capturing the January 23 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream under John Velazquez, came right back to score a 3 1/2-length triumph in the Hurricane Bertie under a ground-saving ride by Alvarado.
“I rode her a couple times at Saratoga and Belmont. We always thought she was great, but for some reason, we never got the best of her,” Alvarado said. “She’s stepping up right now. She’s at another level right now.”
The 6-year-old daughter of Flat Out advanced along the rail to race behind pacesetter Cory Gal and to the inside of stalkers Sonar and Sound Machine. Sound Machine made a three-wide sweep on the turn to get the jump on the favorite and take the lead at the top of the stretch. Alvarado was able to ease Pacific Gale off the trail entering the stretch and the Kentucky-bred mare kicked in to rush past Sound Machine and draw off to win comfortably.
“I just had to make sure I stayed off the heels of everybody and make sure to give her a clear run from there,” Alvarado said. “She was there for me all the way around.”
Pacific Gale ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.93. Sound Machine held second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Saguaro Row.
A week before he’s scheduled to ride Spielberg for fellow Hall of Famer Bob Baffert in the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa, jockey Javier Castellano earned the first stakes victory of his comeback aboard Wink in Saturday’s $75,000 Melody of Colors at Gulfstream Park.
Sent off as the even-money favorite against seven rivals in her first race in 199 days, Wink ($4) led every step of the way and held off Lionessofbrittany by 3/4 of a length to earn her second career stakes victory following the 2020 Colleen last summer at Monmouth Park. The winning time was 55.26 seconds over a firm course.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Wink hadn’t run since being beaten a length when second in the Prix d’Arenberg (G3) last September at Longchamp. She debuted with a front-running triumph under Castellano last June at Belmont Park.
“She broke so well out of the gate and she put herself in a good spot in the race. I remember when I rode her first time at Belmont, she did the same thing,” Castellano said. “I thought she was more mature today. I just enjoyed the ride. Mr. Ward did a great job with the horse to get her ready.”
Wink ran splits of 21.09 and 43.28 seconds, pressed all the way by Lionessofbrittany, who was unable to catch the winner but wound up a clear second over 21/1 long shot Can’t Buy Love. Running Memories, Sleek Lynx, Fouzia, and Rocket Reload completed the order of finish.
Castellano had clean-up surgery on his right leg near the hip last November, returning to action February 17 at Gulfstream. He picked up his first win on his 14th try February 25, and Wink gave him his seventh in 14 mounts during the Championship Meet and eighth overall. In between, he traveled to New York to win the March 6 Busher at Aqueduct and Arkansas to ride in the Rebel (G2) and Azeri (G2) March 13 before returning to the South Florida entries Thursday.
“I’ve been very lucky. When I first came back and started riding horses, the first couple days I didn’t hit the board, but then I started to get the momentum,” Castellano said. “Basically, I had to work it out. I had to get the momentum. Everything in this game is about perception. I have to show the people that I can do it.
“I feel great. I feel better than ever, 100%. I want to ride more horses and win more races, and the only way I can convince the people is with the facts,” he added. “I have to do the job and win the races. I’m very thankful for all the support, the trainers and the owners they give me great chances. I try not to take anything for granted, just work hard and prove I belong.”
Just For Fun Stable, Inc.’s Warrior’s Pride broke running and never looked back to earn his first career stakes win in Saturday’s $75,000 Texas Glitter, one of two stakes wins and five on the day for jockey Junior Alvarado.
Warrior’s Pride ($23.20), making his seventh career start and first on the grass, ran a 1/4-mile in 20.57 seconds and a 1/2 in 43.05, completing 5 furlongs in 55.37 over a firm turf course. Kasim emerged from a photo finish in second, with even-money favorite Field Day third and 25/1 long shot Omaha City fourth.
Alvarado, 36, won his first career race at Gulfstream in 2007 and returned this winter for his first full Championship Meet in 12 years. One of his biggest backers has been winning trainer Antonio Cioffi, a fellow Venezuelan.
“He’s been a great help since I got here from Venezuela. This win actually meant a lot to me,” Alvarado said. “He just told me, ‘Hang on. When you break out of there, don’t do anything. Let him run. He’s the fastest horse in the race, for sure.’
“I trust him. It’s many years that I know him. He broke out of there like a rocket and carried me all the way to the wire,” he added. “I knew he was going fast. He’s a very fast horse. Antonio Cioffi has done a great job with him. He said to let him run as free as he wanted to do it and he’s going to hang on to the end. He certainly did.”
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