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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Kent Sweezey’s trainee Phat Man proved to be too fast for his competition to keep pace as he swept to the lead in mid-stretch and took off to win Saturday’s $150,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes Presented by Don Julio Tequilas (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 5 at 6/1 odds under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Phat Man took his time getting into stride while several foes blitzed ahead of him, anxious for the lead. Zenden put himself on the front end by a slim advantage over Epic Dreamer to his outside and Storm Advisory on the rail while posting fractions of :22.43, :44.68, and 1:09.47.
Completing the turn for home, Zenden dispatched of his early pressers but soon came under fire from a wide-rallying Phat Man, who quickly swept past him to the lead. Powering away in the stretch, Phat Man held sway over a stubborn Zenden to win by 1 length in a final time of 1:35.95 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.
“The race set up for him,” said Ortiz, Jr. “We knew there was going to be a strong pace, we wanted him to be forwardly placed, but at the same time, relaxed. He was there when I asked him. He ran a good race.”
Zenden proved game and refused to yield even after being passed by the winner and held second by 2 lengths over Rare Form, who necked out Chewing Gum for third. Gray Magician was fifth ahead of a slowing Storm Advisory, who gave way to sixth, a 1/2-length ahead of Gran Omero.
Completing the order of finish came Eye of a Jedi, the non-threatening 9/5 favorite Free Enterprise, Olympic Village, Tale of Silence, Epic Dreamer, Seven Trumpets, and Dak Attack to complete the order of finish.
Phat Man’s win was his third at the stakes level but first against graded company and improved his overall record to 26-7-7-1. The 6-year-old gelded son of Munnings has now earned $461,853 for co-owners Marianne Stribling, Force Five Racing, and Two Rivers Racing Stable, who purchased him last summer for $65,000.
“I thought the one-turn mile would suit him well and the owners thought it should set up good for him,” Sweezey said. “They went really, really fast. If I could win a race for someone, it would be these (owners).”
Phat Man returned $15.40 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4.60 to show. Zenden brought back $6.20 to place and $4.80 to show, while Rare Form paid $8.60 to show.
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