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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – From the opening bell to the final pass under the wire, Susan and Jim Hill’s Phantom Currency led all the way around the 1 3/8-mile marathon distance in Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Phantom Currency broke from post 6 at 6/1 odds under Paco Lopez and went straight to a solo early lead, then caught a mid-race breather while posting fractions of :23.60, :49.08, 1:14.62, and 1:38.40 through the opening mile.
The 2/1 favorite Tide of the Sea went two-wide to pressure him the second time down the backstretch and briefly took the lead, but Phantom Currency re-rallied while cornering and took back over command at the top of the stretch.
Temple swung three-wide off the far turn and looked like he might take over, but he hit a mid-stretch wall as the Brian Lynch-trained Phantom Currency drew off to win the three-turn firm turf route by 3/4 of a length in 2:13.84.
“It was the first time I rode the horse and Brian told me to put him on the lead,” Lopez said. “I did exactly what he told me. I had to use him in the race coming to the 3/8 (pole) and he wanted to run off a little bit the first 1/4 (of a mile). The second 1/4, I got a hold of him and he got comfortable. I was on the rail and I waited. (Tide of the Sea) passed me a little bit, but I was confident I had a lot of horse, and in the stretch, he got away from them.”
Tide of the Sea saved second by a 1/2-length over Moon Over Miami, who nailed Temple for third by a nose on the wire.
Sir Sahib, the winner’s stablemate Admission Office, Basha, and Aquaphobia completed the order of finish.
Phantom Currency’s win was his first at the stakes level and second straight following a similar gate-to-wire score going 1 1/8 furlongs here in mid-January against optional claiming rivals. The 5-year-old Goldencents gelding’s record now stands at 14-5-1-0 with $314,355 earned.
“I was surprised they left him alone like they did, and I was very happy to see him make the lead like they did and then slow it down the second 1/4 (of a mile),” Lynch said. “He’s a horse that gets very, very game when he’s left alone. Paco said he gave him a little breather around the 3/8 pole and he still felt like he had a lot of horse. He let them come to him and then he crept away. I’m very proud of him. He’s been an overachiever, this horse. He obviously likes this track and he’s very dangerous when he’s left alone.”
Phantom Currency returned $15.60 to win, $7.20 to place, and $5 to show. Tide of the Sea brought back $3.80 to place and $3 to show. Moon Over Miami paid $5.20 to show.
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