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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Showing no signs of rust despite the nearly five-month layoff, Vitalogy put forth a determined effort while returning victoriously to the track in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from the far outside post 12 under Javier Castellano as the 2/1 favorite, Vitalogy rushed up and succcessfully cleared most of his inner foes to sit two-wide entering the clubhouse turn. Up front, the 209/1 longshot Allgorilla set a lengthy early lead while posting opening fractions of :24.63 and :48.15.
Moving forward under his own power as he entered the far turn, Vitalogy effortlessly struck the front while Famished pressured his outside. Given the green light just shy of the top of the stretch, Vitalogy was set down for the drive as he straightened for home.
Famished soon backed out as Tiesto and Sassy But Smart took shots from either direction, and South Bend came closing with a flourish from the rear, but none proved sharp enough to tackle the bettors’ choice.
Hand-ridden late, the Brendan Walsh-trained Vitalogy crossed a mile clear in a final time of 1:41.86 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“I had a lot of concerns before the race with that post,” said Castellano, who was also aboard for the horse’s last start, a narrow defeat in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) after breaking from the far outside 14 post. “It’s very difficult. Last time, I sacrificed a little bit; it cost me the race. Today, he showed me more speed. You can’t be too far back on this track. You have to be close. I had the best horse in the race. I let him come out of the gate in good position and enjoy the ride. He’s a really nice horse.”
Tiesto held second by a 1/2-length over South Bend, who necked out Sassy But Smart for third at the wire. Famished faded to fifth, a length behind Sassy But Smart and 3 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
Turn of Events, Life On Top, Street Ready, Fenwick Station, Bee Catcher, and a used-up Allgorilla completed the order of finish. Fancy Liquor was scratched.
Vitalogy’s win was his first since breaking his maiden on debut at the Irish track Naas and improved his overall record to 5-2-1-1 with $173,632 earned for co-owners Qatar Racing Limited, Marc Detampel, and Bottle Rocket Stable. The British-bred 3-year-old son of No Nay Never, third in the Summer Stakes (G1) and second in the Bourbon, had planned to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) to end 2019, but regulatory veterinarians scratched him after he failed a routine inspection.
“I just feel glad for the owners, because it was an awful blow for them last year,” Walsh said. “They were all out there. We didn’t feel there was anything wrong with the horse, but that’s in the past now and we move on, and hopefully we can have a good year. He certainly proved today that he’s as good as he was last year and we’re excited about him. It’s something to look forward to.”
Vitalogy returned $6 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.40 to show. Tiesto brought back $4.20 to place and $3 to show, while South Bend paid $2.80 to show.
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