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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Joseph Allen’s homebred Team of Teams found herself loose on the lead early and was able to have everything her way throughout en route to wiring Saturday’s $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Off sharply from post 5 under John Velazquez, Team of Teams beat the heavily-favored Celestine to the front as the the field entered the first turn, then settled easily enough on the front end while clocking unchallenged fractions of :24.31, :49.53, and 1:13.72. Rounding off the far turn, Team of Teams exploded down the stretch and left the field far behind her, hitting the wire first by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:35.94 for the mile-long turf event.
“She’s not a horse who likes to relax, but today, there was no speed,” Velazquez said. “We got to the lead, and she was able to relax in front and was able to finish.”
Grizzel was able to get up for second by a 1/2-length over Island Reward. Celestine never looked comfortable down the stretch and faded to finish fourth, missing the board by a neck. Storm the Hill, Perdona, and Kylla Instinct completed the order of finish.
Team of Team’s victory, her first since wining here on March 12, 2017, was the second straight for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who one race prior took the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes. The 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality improved her record to 12-3-4-1 with career earnings of $173,333.
“We thought the only filly with speed close to hers was (Perdona),” Jerkens said. “Johnny made it look like he had intentions of going to the lead leaving there, so Edgar (Prado, aboard Perdona) kind of figured that and took off us, which I’m glad he did. We were lucky that she was able to get an easy lead. She doesn’t seem to want to settle behind another horse early in a race. That’s why you’ve got to keep them as good as you can and take a shot, especially with a filly like her. You never know. Even though it’s a stake, you can’t get intimidated. (Celestine) is awful good, but she’s not quite the filly she was last year or the year before, maybe. It all has to come together.”
Team of Teams returned $24.20 to win, $10.80 to place, and $14.20 to show. Grizzel brought back $5.40 to place and $7.80 to show, while Island Reward paid $15.40 to show.
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