HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Trainer Chad Brown predicted that Almanaar would become a Grade 1 winner this season, and it didn't take very long for his prediction to come true.
Almanaar earned his Grade 1 stripes in just his second start of the year, rallying from off the pace under a brilliantly judged ride by Joel Rosario to register a three-quarter-length decision over stablemate Beach Patrol in the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Unfortunately for Brown, Beach Patrol was disqualified from second and placed fourth for coming out and bumping solidly with War Correspondent in deep stretch.
Almanaar, an English-bred son of Dubawi, was a multiple Group 3 winner in France at 3 before joining Brown's stable last season. He was winless in just two starts during 2016 before launching his 2017 campaign by finishing second, beaten a neck by Flatlined, in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale here four weeks ago.
Rosario eased Almanaar off the early pace and put him in the clear, about five lengths behind the leaders in the run down the backstretch. Almanaar rallied five wide leaving the final bend, continued with good energy down the center of the course, overtook Beach Patrol in late stretch, and won going away.
Beach Patrol set a pressured pace on the rail, shook off several challenges from the quarter pole through midstretch, then drifted out nearing the wire to bump a tiring War Correspondent while proving no match for the winner. All Included came widest for the drive and finished well to be third, a neck behind Beach Patrol.
Lukes Alley, the defending Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap champ, finished fifth after racing within striking distance into the stretch.
Almanaar covered nine furlongs over a firm course in 1:45.63 and paid $8.
"I thought he ran great," said Brown, who trains the homebred Almanaar for Shadwell Stable. "The Fort Lauderdale set him up well for this race. I figured the added distance would help him, and he got a great pace setup today."
Brown was also delighted with the performance of Beach Patrol but was disappointed that the Grade 1 winner was demoted to fourth due to the disqualification.
"I'm so proud of this horse," Brown said of Beach Patrol, "especially given the layoff and the fact he was pressured the whole way by another horse who finished nowhere. He really showed his heart today. I thought, from my first look, both horses came in together, but it is what it is. We'll move forward from here."
Brown said, "Everything is in play for both these horses," while mentioning the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs as a possible option for both.