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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Already a stakes winner at 2 and 3, R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ Vekoma added to that total while vrooming away in Saturday’s $75,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Making his first start since finishing 12th in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), Vekoma was nevertheless sent away from post 8 under Manny Franco as the 8/5 favorite. He settled comfortably inside of He Hate Me and Jackson while tracking Yorkton through opening fractions of :22.52 and :45.00.
Tipped out three-wide near the top of the stretch, Vekoma paddled up alongside Yorkton and He Hate Me, who was making his bid for the lead as well. Taking the lead at the 3/16 pole, Vekoma continued running strongly while distancing himself from the field.
Kept to a hand ride from 1/8 pole through to the wire, the George Weaver trainee crossed 3 3/4 lengths the best in a final time of 1:21.92 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
Though no match for the eventual winner, Yorkton kept He Hate Me at bay before securing second by 1 3/4 lengths. Bourbon Resolution rallied from last to take fourth by 1 length over Home Base.
Sixth went to Bourbon Calling by a pair of necks over Garter and Tie and Last Judgment, respectively, with Hy Riverside a 1/2-length behind them in ninth. Jackson was eased across the wire to complete the order of finish after fading steadily in the far turn.
Frosted Grace was scratched, with his connections opting to run in a sprint allowance event here on March 26; he finished second. Majestic Dunhill was also scratched.
Vekoma’s win was his third against stakes foes, having taken the Nashua Stakes (G3) as a juvenile and the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) last April. The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride, purchased for $135,000 as a yearling, has now earned $833,025.
Vekoma returned $5.20 to win, $4 to place, and $3 to show. Yorkton brought back $12.20 to place and $7.80 to show, while He Hate Me paid $3.60 to show.
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