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Performer Necks out Eye of a Jedi for Hooper Victory
Credit: Coglianese Photos / Lauren King

Performer Necks out Eye of a Jedi for Hooper Victory

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shug McGaughey’s heavily-favored Performer necked out the game longshot Eye of a Jedi for victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

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Performer broke from the rail under Joel Rosario as the 4/5 top choice on the tote and settled into a stalking position tucked behind Shivaree, who led narrowly inside of Dream Maker in the early running.

Eye of a Jedi made a bold move in the far turn, shooting inside of Performer before splitting the front-runners. Rosario responded aboard Performer, steering him out four-wide at the top of the stretch.

Dream Maker gave up the ghost in the far turn and Shivaree dropped anchor soon thereafter, leaving Performer and Eye of a Jedi to throw down for all the marbles.

In the late stages, the Shug McGaughey-trained Performer inched ahead to prevail victoriously.

Credit: Coglianese Photos / Derbe Glass

“He broke well and it really looked like (Shivaree) was going to take the lead and the other horse on the outside, so I kind of just let him be in that spot,” Rosario said. “I didn’t want to fall too far back but be there in the race because he broke good, and he got the job done. He’s a nice horse.”

Avant Garde shot up the rail in the late stages to take third, just 1 1/4 lengths behind the top pair.

Shivaree, Phat Man, Dream Maker, Indimaaj, and Haikal completed the order of finish.

Due to a malfunction, the race was hand-timed. Posted fractions for the race were :23.20, :45.46, 1:09.89, and 1:35.49 final. 

Performer’s win was second at the graded stakes level following the 2019 Discovery Stakes (G3) and improved his overall record to 8-6-0-2. The 5-year-old intact son of Speightstown has now earned $400,675 for Phipps Stable (who also bred him) and Claiborne Farm.

“I was glad when (Rosario) got him to the outside,” McGaughey said. “He looked like he wanted to hang with that horse on the lead a little bit, but he was able to finish up.”

Performer returned $3.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Eye of a Jedi brought back $7.80 to place and $4.40 to show, while Avant Garde paid $5 to show.

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