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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Red-hot jockey Junior Alvarado placed Venezuelan Hug in the perfect stretch-run position, allowing the Danny Gargan trainee to surge late and steal victory from Olympic Runner in Saturday’s $125,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 6 at 9/2 odds, Venezuelan Hug took back and saved ground while Bizzee Channel led through opening fractions of :23.69, :48.48, and 1:11.48.
Winters Back advanced from his close stalking position and took command as the field neared the top of the stretch, but Gear Jockey tipped out three-wide and challenged the new leader.
Olympic Runner rallied to the front in deep stretch and looked like a winner, but Alvarado waited until the right moment to steer Venezuelan Hug through an opening between Winters Back and Gear Jockey.
Surging with a tremendous burst, Venezuelan Hug snuck through and stole the lead away in the final jumps, ultimately crossing a neck clear while completing the 1 1/16-mile firm turf route in 1:40.42.
Olympic Runner was another neck ahead of Gear Jockey. Winters Back was a 1/2-length in front of the 5/2 favorite Eons, nosed out Dynadrive for fifth.
Fancy Liquor, Bizzee Channel, and Monarchs Glen completed the order of finish.
Venezuelan Hug’s win was his first at the stakes level and third straight following a pair of Florida-bred stakes scores here and at Gulfstream Park West. The 4-year-old Constitution colt’s record improved to 10-6-0-1 with $252,830 earned for co-owners Spedale Famile Racing and R. A. Hill Stable, who claimed him for $40k out of his second start while still a maiden.
Venezuelan Hug returned $11 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.60 to show. Olympic Runner brought back $4.40 to place and $3.60 to show. Gear Jockey paid $8.40 to show.
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