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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jordan Wycoff’s recent claim Tusk took command at the top of the stretch and drew off strongly to take his first graded score in Saturday’s $100,000 Tropical Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 6 under Tyler Gaffalione at 8/1 odds, Tusk settled into fourth heading into the clubhouse turn, riding slightly off the rail. Up front, Gemonteer held a slim advantage along the outside of Gidu while posting opening fractions of :22.91 and :45.22.
Heading into the far turn, Gidu slid up the rail to take the lead as Gemonteer gave way, but Gaffalione had Tusk running hot on his heels. Tipped out midway through the far turn to take aim at Gidu and turned for home in full command of the field.
Set down for the stretch drive as his lead began to grow, Tusk found himself 2 lengths ahead and maintained that advantage through to the wire. The Saffie Joseph, Jr., trainee completed the mile-long event over the firm turf course in a final time of 1:32.83.
“He carried me the whole way around there,” Gaffalione said. “I took a nice hold and he traveled really well throughout. Coming into the stretch, there was a spot that opened up between (Gidu) and (Gemonteer). I had enough horse at that point, so when I chirped to him, he exploded right through there and finished the job.”
Despite chasing a fast early pace, Gidu held well to take second by a length over Maraud, who swung three-wide off of the far turn but didn’t have enough kick to finish better than third. A Thread of Blue, the 8/5 favorite, suffered his first local loss in four starts, finishing a head past Exulting in fourth.
Empire of War, Sand Dancer, Big Agenda, and an empty Gemonteer completed the order of finish. Gunnison was scratched.
Tusk’s win came in his second start since being claimed for $32,000 on October 20, 2019, and improved his overall record to 37-8-7-6. The 7-year-old gelded son of Tapit increased his lifetime bankroll to $441,317.
“Today, he got a perfect trip,” Joseph said. “The speed went and he dropped in behind them. This is probably his best distance – a mile. I know he’s won further, but if he gets a fast-run mile, it fits him really good.”
Tusk returned $19 to win, $8.40 to place, and $5.80 to show. Gidu brought back $8 to place and $5.40 to show, while Maraud paid $4.60 to show.
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