Shining Copper takes Fort Lauderdale

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Shining Copper reasserted himself after being headed in late stretch by One Go All Go to register a well-deserved head victory in the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale, main event on Saturday's 12-race program at Gulfstream Park. Heart to Heart finished a disappointing seventh as the 3-5 favorite.

Shining Copper brought a two-race winning streak into the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale that included a front-running 1 3/4-length triumph in the Grade 3 River City Handicap in his 2017 finale. On Saturday, the veteran gelding -- always at his best when on the lead -- was able to strike the front once again after the speedy Heart to Heart hopped at the break.

With Jose Ortiz aboard, Shining Copper controlled a moderate pace, shook off a bid from Shakhimat leaving the backstretch and around the second bend, then came back on again near the rail after being headed by One Go All Go to narrowly prevail. One Go All Go saved ground while well-placed, eased out to engage the leader upon settling into the stretch, forged to a narrow advantage near the sixteenth pole but was out-gamed to the wire.

All Included rallied wide off the final turn but could not impact the top pair, finishing two lengths farther back in third.

Heart to Heart broke tardily when going up in the air at the break then was grabbed into by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. after rushing up behind the leaders as the field passed through the wire for the first time. Heart to Heart, making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Mile, eventually settled about four lengths off the lead, made a brief bid four wide into the stretch, but had little left at that point.

Shining Copper, an 8-year-old son of Aragorn, is owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker. He covered 1 1/16 miles over turf rated good in 1:43.44 and returned $12.40.

"It all comes down to him being a tough old dude having a big heart and trying hard all the time," said Maker. "He loves to run and is an unbelievably smart horse. I was a little surprised to be on the lead, but sometimes when there's a lot of speed in the race, everybody takes back and that's what happens. And [Ortiz is] not an Eclipse Award finalist for nothing."

Maker said Shining Copper will make his next start in the Barbados Gold Cup on March 3.