Hurricane Boys and Richard Pell's Nevada Kid went to the lead and was never headed in the $192,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park Dec. 7, earning his richest victory to date for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
The race wrapping up a solid day of racing that featured eight starter stake events worth a total of $1 million at the South Florida oval.
Perfectly measured by jockey Luis Saez in the 1 ⅛-mile feature for horses that had started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less at least once, the 4-year-old Silver Train colt alertly dictated the pace under moderate pressure from Dominant Jeannes throughout, registering splits of :24.44, :48.33, and 1:12.43 through six furlongs.
Widening away at the top of the lane when asked, Nevada Kid increased the distance between him and his nearest rival while running a 1:37.16 mile. He drifted out through the lane despite steady right-handed correction, but was 2 ¼ lengths ahead at the wire. Dominant Jeannes managed to hold second over Flatter This, who closed well but just missed. Final time on the fast track was 1:50.41.
"He likes to run that way," Zito said of the gate-to-wire victory. "We talked about it. The fence looks pretty good right now."
The 5-1 shot returned $12.80, $6.60, and $5. Dominant Jeannes brought $5.40 and $3.60. Flatter this paid $7.40. Rule Number Six, Isutalkintome, favored Bernie the Maestro, Voodoo Storm, Sinorice, Nevada, and Avenida Paseo completed the order of finish.
Nevada Kid, bred in Kentucky by Emilie Fojan & Bona Terra Stud out of the Woodman mare Pilaf, improved his record to 4-5-1 from 18 starts with earnings of $278,935.
Ribo Bobo Romps
Even though Mr. Amore Stable's Ribo Bobo looked to be the class of the field in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Express, trainer Jason Servis admitted to some pre-race butterflies.
"I'm always nervous," Servis admitted. "I've run a lot of horses in a lot of big races, but I really like this horse. I really wanted to win it."
Servis needn't have worried. Bet down to 1-2, Ribo Bobo made that price look like an overlay as he cruised around the track en route to a 2 ½-length success. The 5-year-old raced on a long hold from jockey Paco Lopez and, even though he drifted out turning for home, the result was never in doubt.
"Man, I tell you, he's been great," Servis added. "I felt good after he got on the lead. I'm very excited to win here."
Never Stop Looking stumbled at the start, but made up ground late to complete the $12.20 exacta.
Ribo Bobo was claimed in three straight starts last winter at Gulfstream while launching a nine-race winning streak. That skein came to an end just 10 days ago under the lights at Penn National Race Course when he was beaten a half-length by the classy Ben's Cat in the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap.
Servis suggested that Ribo Bobo simply started loafing despite posting a half-mile split of :44.94, and Lopez echoed that sentiment.
"Our last race we got beat by a really nice horse, and Ribo was scared a little on the inside rail," Lopez said. "Today there were not as many horses and we made the lead easy. We went outside a little because he was looking for the other horses."
Ribo Bobo's claiming days are behind him for now. The son of Louis Quatorze was bred in Florida by Rapputi Stables, making him eligible for the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint to be run at six furlongs at Gulfstream on Jan. 18.
"I think we've got to look at the Sunshine Millions," Servis said. "Maybe another stakes, but I do think he's that type of horse."
Ramseys Win Tiara, Emerald
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Deanaallen'skitten stormed home to take the $125,000 Tiara Stakes, besting a field of 11 fillies and mares to give her owners a victory on the Claiming Crown card. Then Major Marvel, who missed by a head in the 2012 Emerald, made amends in this year's edition as the 8-5 chalk. Last season, the Ramseys swept four of seven Claiming Crown events. They now lead all owners with 12 total Claiming Crown wins.
"We got two today," Ken Ramsey said after leading Major Marvel into the winner's circle. "That's half of what we got last year, but I'm not complaining. [Major Marvel] redeemed himself this year."
In the $125,000 Emerald, run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, 7-year-old Major Marvel settled behind second choice Plainview, who made the running. Jockey Julien Leparoux asked Major Marvel for a bit more when North Star Boy ranged up boldly in the stretch, and the favorite dug in gamely and edged clear late for a 1 ½-length win. Final time was 1:43.72.
"We claimed this horse for $10,000 from Maggi Moss over at Churchill Downs and that's been a really, really good claim, because he'd won  races for us since we claimed him," Ramsey said. "So he's what you call a money machine, or maybe a running machine -- he's just keeps on putting them out."
The Emerald was the eighth win in nine starts this year for Major Marvel, who has had his picture taken in 21 of 51 career appearances. His bankroll now stands at $693,128.
In the Tiara, 6-year-old Deanaallen'skitten -- a chestnut daughter of Kitten's Joy -- ran as a heavy favorite should, holding off Rock On Baby by three-quarters of a length after making a bold move six-wide around the far turn. She covered the 1 1/16 mile distance on the turf in 1:42.12 for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano and paid $3.80 for the win.
Deanaallen'skitten was 12 lengths off the lead in 10th early, but Castellano had a plan and Ramsey was full of praise for Gulfstream's leading rider of the past two years, calling his effort "well executed."
"I was a little bit worried about being back too far, but [Castellano] timed it perfectly," Ramsey said. "She won going away, and I can't ask for any more than that."
Brown said Deanaallen'skitten had been training well coming into the race, and he was confident in his horse's chances. However, plans for the mare going forward have yet to be determined.
"She's six years old, getting ready to turn seven, so I'll have to talk to Mr. Ramsey [to see] if this is possibly her last race. Maybe he'll want her to go on to be a broodmare now, or he may want to race her at age seven. That's going to be his call."
For now, Ramsey is content to soak in his victories.
"I enjoy the Claiming Crown, because they put a lot of work and effort into it, and it's kind of the blue collar guy's turn," he said. "Although they say, 'Ramsey's not blue collar now,' they didn't come any bluer than me a few years back."
Plan Pays Off for Leonard with Point Finish
Trainer George Leonard always felt Point Finish could win a Claiming Crown race. One year and a thousand miles later, his horse proved him right.
Under a patient and confident ride from Lopez, Point Finish rolled past favored pacesetter Whatthecatdrugin turning for home and sprinted clear to capture the $110,000 Iron Horse by 1 ½ lengths.
It was the sixth win in 12 starts this year for the 4-year-old chestnut son of Point Given, who is based with Leonard at Turfway Park. Leonard, who vanned Point Finish the 1,000 miles to Gulfstream himself, had been pointing to the Iron Horse since last winter.
"I've been waiting for this race for a whole year," Leonard said. "I always thought he could handle the company if we could get lucky and get this far with him, and it worked out perfect. Thanks to God, everything worked."
A winner on dirt, turf, and synthetics, Point Finish ($9.60) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.43. Francois rallied to be second, a nose ahead of Toh's Grey Cat in third. Brother Bird, the defending winner, finished seventh after having to be reshod in the paddock which delayed the start of the race.
Running for the first time in Florida, Point Finish came into the Iron Horse a fresh one, having won by a neck in his last start at Indiana Downs Oct. 19.
"This means everything," Leonard said. "I pointed to this for a long time. I'm very pleased. We'll go back home now and he'll probably get a break. He deserves a rest."
Goodtimehadbyall in Rapid Transit
When Hidden Point Thoroughbred Partners was looking to claim a horse for $25,000 last June, Goodtimehadbyall pretty much fit all the criteria.
"He had some back class. He had been in a Grade 3 when he was a young horse. We just thought bringing him into a new program and giving him some easier competition on the East Coast coming from Kentucky he might turn around," stable manager Clay Sanders said. "He's by Quiet American out of an A.P. Indy mare. He had every right to be a nice horse. We took a chance on him. We like to speculate with $25,000 horses and some of them turn out to be good horses."
After running off with the $60,500 purse of the $110,000 Rapid Transit, Goodtimehadbyall showed himself to be one of the good ones. Saddled by Jorge Navarro, the 5-year-old gelding made a healthy return on his owners' investment with his third win in five starts for his new connections.
Goodtimehadbyall settled off the pace under Kendrick Carmouche as Kingsford Drive set the pace, closely stalked by Ghost Is Clear along the backstretch. After advancing near the inside on the far turn, Goodtimehadbyall was swung four-wide coming off the turn into the homestretch and drew off to score by 4 ½ lengths.
The Kentucky-bred gelding, who was the 5-1 fourth choice in a field of 12, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.11. Ghost Is Clear, the 2-1 favorite who briefly took the lead in the stretch, finished second, 3 ¾ lengths ahead of a late-charging Grande Shores.
Goodtimehadbyall registered back-to-back allowance wins in his first two starts for Hidden Point before finishing third in a $75,000 turf handicap and off the board in an allowance last time out.
"We were actually pretty confident. Cutting back from two turns to one turn is one of our favorite moves when we claim horses. We thought the seven furlongs would fit him like a glove," Sanders said. "His form was kind of clouded up. He reared up at the start in his last race and lost all chance in a really tough allowance against Gourmet Dinner. In the race before, it was a $100,000 stakes on the turf. We took a chance. He finished third, but he really doesn't like turf. You put your hand over those two races and he fit really good in here."
Wolfson Repeats in Glass Slipper, 30-1 Shot Upsets Iron Lady
Trainer Marty Wolfson found himself in the winner's circle for another year after the $110,000 Glass Slipper, thanks to Centrique sitting off the pace before taking over at the top of the stretch and drawing clear for a 1 ¼-length victory.
The 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly outran stablemate Lexington Pearl to win in 1:22.21 for seven furlongs under Castellano, cruising to the wire as Lexington Pearl rallied from midpack. It was 7 ½ lengths back to Ainsley in third.
Favored at 4-5, Centrique ($3.80) ran .05 faster than eventual grade I winner Starship Truffles did in winning the Glass Slipper last year for Wolfson. It was her third win in 12 starts this season and second in her last three.
One race earlier on the card in the $110,000 Iron Lady, 34-1 shot Carolina Lizard gamely held off her opponents to win by a neck over Courtney Ryan. Daddys Jewel, steadied slightly entering the stretch, finished third.
Ridden by Pedro Monterrey Jr., Carolina Lizard covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.30. A 4-year-old daughter of Saint Anddan trained by Robert Posada, she returned $71.80 in her fifth win from 22 starts for Mrs. J.W. Abernethy Jr.
"I thought she had a good chance today," Posada said. "We've had her whole family and they're all heart."