HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- In the days leading up to Saturday's Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, trainer Marty Wolfson was sure You and I Forever would run a good race. But it wasn't until the night before the race that Wolfson was sure he would get to run the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy.
With a deal to sell You and I Forever to Indian interests for breeding purposes about to be completed, Wolfson said he had to "beg" with the principals involved to run Saturday. Those who purchased the horse from the estate of Edmund Gann are probably glad they relented, as You and I Forever made a four-wide sweep turning for home and drew off to win the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths over Motovato, who is also trained by Wolfson. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Cool Coal Man in third. This Ones for Phil, the 8-5 favorite, finished eighth in the 11-horse field.
The victory capped a terrific day for Wolfson, who earlier on the card won the $75,000 Ocala Stakes with heavy favorite Jessica Is Back.
It was the first stakes victory for You and I Forever, who had finished second in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope two starts back and who also had second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont in 2008 and the Grade 3 Iselin last year at Monmouth Park.
Wolfson said one of the keys to victory Saturday was reuniting You and I Forever with Javier Castellano, who hadn't ridden the horse since the Jerome, when he was trained by Bill Mott. Still, Wolfson said the patience Castellano showed that day was what You and I Forever needed and was in contrast to the way Eddie Castro had ridden him the last two starts.
"His last race," a seventh-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, "was a throw-out," Wolfson said. "He just rushed him and this horse likes to make one run."
Said Castellano: "The key with the horse is he likes to be in the clear, and it worked out great. Ton of speed, midpack, outside in the clear. I let them go and he started picking it up, and when I asked him he took off."
You and I Forever covered the mile in 1:36.83 and returned $29.40. He topped a Wolfson-trained exacta that returned $200.40.
Jessica Is Back wins at odds-on
Jessica Is Back lived up her to 1-5 favoritism on Saturday, making the lead soon after the start and cruising to a nine-length victory in the $75,000 Ocala Stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares. Many Kisses finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Glotona.
The victory was the 11th in 41 starts for Jessica Is Back, and her fourth in 10 starts since being claimed by Myron Miller's Farnsworth Stables and Wolfson last April.
Jessica Is Back, a 6-year-old daughter of Put It Back, covered the mile in 1:37.71 and returned $2.40.