Gaff caps off Gulfstream sweep for Bridgmohan
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan completed the most memorable day of his riding career when he steered Gaff to a neck victory over War Front in Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The win gave Bridgmohan a sweep of all three stakes on the card, following victories aboard On Thin Ice in the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap and Doctor Decherd in the $125,000 Aventura Stakes.
"This is pretty awesome," Bridgmohan said after the Mr. Prospector. "Gulfstream Park is a tough meeting, and you're riding against the best when you're here. Hopefully I can carry this on through the meet."
As in his earlier stakes wins, Bridgmohan had Gaff in perfect striking position just off the early pace. After tracking 2-1 favorite Friendly Island, Gaff engaged for the lead entering the stretch, gained a short advantage leaving the eighth pole, then was fully extended to withstand a final surge from War Front.
War Front had to steady back from inside Friendly Island after forcing the early pace on the far turn, angled to the middle of the track once entering the stretch, and finished best of all to just miss. Friendly Island weakened gradually in the final furlong to be third.
Funny Cide finished seventh, 11 lengths behind Gaff, making his first start since the Suburban Handicap in July.
Gaff, a 4-year-old Maria's Mon colt trained by Steve Asmussen for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Michael Smurfit, covered six furlongs in 1:08.50 and paid $13.60.
"I know his last race at Churchill was just a two-other-than, but it was visually impressive, and Social Probation, who finished second, was second in the King's Bishop," Asmussen said. "I want this horse to do what the winner of this race did last year and go to Dubai."
Saratoga County won the 2005 Mr. Prospector, then captured the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in March.
Asmussen also won the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday with Doctor Decherd.
Hal's Hope: On Thin Ice rallies
Bridgmohan began his big day with On Thin Ice, who rallied from just off the pace to an easy 5 3/4-length win over longshot Network in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope.
On Thin Ice, a 5-year-old son of Tactical Cat, is trained by Joe Orseno for the D J Stable LLC. He paid $12.60 after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.05 over a fast track.
On Thin Ice gained the lead from tiring pacesetter Ricardo A. on the second turn, then drew away with authority once settling into the stretch. Network rallied belatedly to finish second, two lengths in front of Seek Gold, who had to steady in traffic midway through the race.
Philanthropist weakened through the stretch and checked home seventh as the 9-5 favorite.
"This horse has been plagued by little foot problems since I've had him," said Orseno. "I took him to Keeneland and trained him over the all-weather track and he just got better and better. This was the fittest I've had him, because I was finally able to train him. Shaun rode a hell of a race.
"I said going into this race that if he showed he was the horse I thought he is, we'd think about going to the Donn," Orseno added. "I think he earned the trip today."
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