Will Sprint Next Time, Too
Gladiator King, whose connections have rarely seen a Florida stakes race they didn't like, finally won one of them as the longest shot in a four-horse field.
Owned by Thoroughbred Champions Training LLC, Gladiator King took control right from the start of the six-furlong Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park and continued on to register a comfortable four-length victory under Leonel Reyes.
Trained by Jaime Mejia, Gladiator King, who was sent to post as the 12-1 outsider, was timed in 1:10.88 after posting fractions of 22.17 and 45.11. Favored Federal Case closed to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Topper T, the second choice who pressed the pace before weakening on the turn into the homestretch. In the Loop was last. Lutsky was scratched.
Gladiator King won for the first time in five starts since capturing the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 18. Mejia said the son of Curlin is likely to race next in a sprint at Churchill Downs. He had fared poorly in two-turn stakes races since he won the Inaugural.
Jaime Mejia: “His [form] was going down, but now he is back."
Leonel Reyes: “I am very happy to win the stakes. He is a good horse. He broke good and went to the lead and I went on with him. He tried very hard all the way.”
By Dick Downey
Photo by Leslie Martin