By Dick Downey
Howe Great ran his record at Gulfstream Park to three-for-three today when he won the 1 1/8-mile, Grade III Palm Beach Stakes.
Howe Great showed he doesn't require an uncontested lead in order to succeed.
He and John Velazquez sat inside and a length to the rear of Scorcher as that longshot set initial fractions of :23.87, :47.52 and 1:11.53. Going down the backstretch, Csaba and Coalport, who stumbled at the start and bumped Csaba, sat off Howe Great, and Dullahan and Argentine Tango stayed at the rear of a fairly compact field of six.
The real running started leaving the far turn, when Howe Great scooted a couple of lengths away. Dullahan had mounted a rally on the turn and got ahead of Csaba in the stretch while Scorcher backed away. Howe Great crossed the finish line fully extended and a length better than Dulllahan, with Csaba another 2 3/4 lengths back.
Argentine Tango, Coalport and Scorcher filled out the order of finish. The race was timed in 1:46.56.
The two favories, Howe Great and Dullahan, were sent off at 3-5 and 2-1 odds, respectively. Csaba was a longshot at 18-1. The winner paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
Howe Great picked up his first graded stakes money, $90,000. Dullahan increased his graded earnings to $405,000 with his $30,000 share of the $150,000 purse.
Howe Great opened his career for trainer Graham Motion in 2011 going one turn on the dirt at Parx. After a win and a place doing that, he was taken to Gulfstream Park where he debuted on turf, winning at 1 1/16 mile on Dec. 15. That was followed by another win at the same distance in the Kitten's Joy Stakes on Jan. 21.
Howe Great, a Team Valor International runner, was bred in Kentucky by Team Valor principal Barry Irwin. He's by Hat Trick by Ginger Sea (SAF), out of Western Winter.
Graham Motion, trainer of Howe Great: “He hasn’t done too much wrong in his life. He’s a very classy, straightforward horse. The more he races, the more relaxed he has become. He’s been in front in some of his races, but as you saw today he’s very tractable and relaxed, and doesn’t need the lead. We talked about it before the race and decided the logical spot for him if he did well today would be to go to the Blue Grass and see where we go from there.”
John Velazquez, aboard Howe Great: “The first time I rode him, I told Graham that he didn’t need the lead, that he just inherited the lead by default. I knew if another horse went, he would be able to settle. He was on the inside, but didn’t seem to mind. Around the half-mile pole, I squeezed him just a little, and he popped right back onto the bridle, and from there I made sure to save something for the stretch. When I asked him in the stretch, he responded right away. It’s fun to ride the kind of horses that runs as soon as you ask them.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Dullahan: “I’m very pleased. I thought that was a perfect race for him in his comeback. He finished good; we just wanted to see him finish good at the end. The one horse is a quality race horse. This sets us up good, so we’ll go from here to the Blue Grass.”
Kent Desormeaux, rider of Dullahan: “I think the race was perfect for him. He’s so good he’s getting ready in a stakes. The other horse had the recency, and we loomed large around the far turn, but the winner possessed another gear. I’ll possess that gear next time.”
Paco Lopez, up on Csaba: “I had him in the best position, but when I moved him at the quarter pole he tired a little. He’s a nice horse.”