HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Epic Racing’s Valedictorian dug in deep and proved to be game as can be, fending off a challenge from the multiple graded stakes winner Proctor’s Ledge to win Saturday’s Sand Springs Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 5/2 under Tyler Gaffalione as the 5/2 second choice, Valedictorian sat just off of the early leader Vendita‘s right hip through an opening 1/4-mile in :24.26 before ranging up to take the lead. Given a challenge from the even-money favorite Proctor’s Ledge as she headed into the far turn, Valedictorian refused to let her classy foe get past and fought back on the inside. The two 5-year-old mares battled the length of the stretch, but at the wire, it was trainer Kelly Breen’s Valedictorian by a head in a final time of 1:34.92 for the mile-long event over the firm turf.
“She just kept fighting all the way to the wire and gave everything she had,” Gaffalione said. “Every time a horse got close, she gave me another surge.”
Andina Del Sur held third by a head over Fire Key, with Quebec another head behind while sandwiched between them. Midnight Soiree and Too Charming both failed to get into the real running and only outkicked a spent Vendita to complete the order of finish. Mrs. Ramona G. was scratched.
Valedictorian’s win was her second in her past three starts, having taken the Suwannee River Stakes (G3) here on February 9 while going 1 1/8 miles. The daughter of Temple City has now earned $563,765 with a record of 26-11-6-3 – including 5-3-1-0 while going 1 mile on the grass.
“A great stretch duel,” Breen said. “She’s just a super filly. She’s into her own right now.”
Valedictorian returned $7.40 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Proctor’s Ledge brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show, while Andina Del Sur paid $4 to show.