Barbadian trainer Saffie Joseph Jr logged two important wins on Sunday’s 10-race card at Gulfstream Park, to remain ahead of Hall-of-Famer Todd Pletcher in the battle for the championship.
The 34-year-old tasted his success in the day’s opening two races, Edgard Zayas guiding 8-5 choice Kartano to victory in race one over a mile and sixteenth and Vincente Gudiel partnering favourite Shake Your Bones to the wire in race two over a mile and 70 yards.
With the brace, Joseph moved to 38 wins for the season which got underway December 26, but is only two clear of veteran Pletcher who he dethroned to win last year’s title.
The pair are well clear of their nearest challenger William Mott, who lies third on 17 wins.
Joseph, who won the US$100 000 Grade 3 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs with favourite Skippylongstocking on Saturday, wasted little time in finding himself in winners’ row.
Up against the four-year-olds and upward, Zayas stalked from second with five-year-old chestnut gelding Kartano as Crack Shot posted fractions of 24.65 seconds for the quarter and 48.53 for the half.
At the five-sixteenth pole, Zayas roused Kartano and he blew by the leader on the outside to pick up the running, holding off favourite Wicked Genius before reaching the wire by three-quarters of a length.
In race two for the three-year-old and upward maidens, Shake Your Bones broke poorly to trail the eight-horse field as Zayas, aboard Fivefive Six Champ, produced the early splits, with 65-1 longshot True Identity chasing from second and Papa Katz, Impetuous Soul and Straight Time all challenging.
Gudiel made his move with Shake Your Bones coming off the final turn, 34-1 bet Sir Bitesalot going with him before fading at the top of the stretch.
Fivefive Six Champion, Impetuous Soul and Straight Time then challenged Shake Your Bones’ narrow lead but the four-year-old gelding held on to win by a neck. (CMC)