HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Oak Bluff Stables’ homebred Therapist used a strong late rally to propel himself to the front in the final few yards and win Saturday’s $150,000 Cutler Bay Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking along the rail under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Therapist bumped with Nauti Buoy at the start and settled near the rear while Salmanazar led through opening splits of :23.57 and :46.75. The favored Speed Franco made his bid through the far turn and emerged onto the top of the stretch with a narrow lead before kicking away from Salmanazar, but Therapist’s bold move down the stretch kept the new leader from running away. Therapist collared Speed Franco inside the 1/16-marker before inching away in the final jumps to take the mile-long turf event by a neck in a final time of 1:33.42.
“He broke a little slow, but he moves a lot in the gate, so he always breaks like that,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I got a good position and I followed the speed horses and tried to save some ground, and when I tipped him out, he was there for me. I just waited, and he’s much better on the outside. I told the trainer the ground is pretty hard and holding speed, so we have to be close. He wasn’t, but we got there anyway.”
Salmanazar continued to weaken down the stretch but managed to nose out third over Nauti Buoy, with Neepawa and The Dow completing the order of finish.
Therapist’s win improved his record to 5-4-0-1, with his lone loss coming last out in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes here on March 3. The son of Freud increased his career earnings to $243,275 for trainer Christophe Clement, who also co-bred him.
“We bought the mare and bred her,” said Richard Leahy, who owns Oak Bluff Stables with his wife, Lynn. “We actually tried to sell him, but he didn’t attract any real bidders, so I took him back. Christophe and John Donaldson, a bloodstock agent, thought he’d be a lot of fun, and he has been.”
Therapist returned $6 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Speed Franco brought back $2.40 to place and $2.20 to show, while Salmanazar paid $2.80 to show.