Eldon’s Prince wins the Armed Forces Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
After graduating in the Proud Man at a mile on turf last time out, Gentry Farm’s Eldon’s Prince handled the cutback to seven furlongs and the surface switch to dirt to capture Saturday’s $75,000 Armed Forces at Gulfstream Park.
The Armed Forces, a stakes for 2-year-olds originally scheduled to be run at a mile on turf, co-headlined Saturday’s 12-race program with the $75,000 Our Dear Peggy, a one-mile turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies that was also run at seven furlongs on turf.
Eldon’s Prince, a long-striding son of Cairo Prince who was sent to post as the 7-5 favorite in a field reduced by scratches to eight starters, got away seventh and made steady progress along the backstretch as Golden Juan and Night Jumper vied for the lead while setting fractions of :22.55 and :45.48 for the first half-mile. Eldon’s Prince, who launched a three-wide drive leaving the backstretch under Edgard Zayas, built up momentum on the far turn to enter contention while going for wide on the turn into the homestretch. No Nay Franklin who stalked the early pacesetters, got the jump on the favorite to take the lead in the stretch, where he put up a good fight but was unable to hold off the winner.
“We didn’t want to change surfaces so quick. We always wanted to try him on dirt later down the lane at a longer distance. We talked it over with A.P. Gentry, the owner of Gentry Farm, and he said, ‘Roll the dice and see what happens,’” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He always trained well on dirt. He’s going to want to run longer, a mile, a mile-and-an-eighth, the longer the better. He just has the ability to overcome something that is not his niche.”
Eldon’s Prince, who ran seven furlongs in 1:25.02, debuted on turf and finished a late-running second in a 5-furlong dash Aug. 1. Three weeks later, the Ontario-bred colt romped to a six-length victory in the Proud Man.
Patrick Biancone-trained No Nay Franklin, who was making only his second start after losing by a rapidly diminishing neck in a third-place finish at five-furlongs on turf, was six lengths clear of a tiring Golden Juan.
Eldon’s Prince was Zayas’ only mount on the day after the Spring/Summer Meet’s leading rider was unseated from his mount and fell hard to the track.
“Edgard gave him a great ride. He fell heavily [Friday],” Joseph said. “He showed guts to ride this horse today. It shows how tough these jockeys are.”
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