Courtesy of Tim DwyerCorrespondent – Copyright © 2016, Sun Sentinel
Race favorite Middleburg made a move late, but Smokem Kitten won Saturday’s Miiami Mile in a photo finish at Gulfstream Park. (Lauren King/Gulfstream Park / Handout)
Smokem Kitten lived up to his name, leading from gate to wire to take the $100,000 GIII Miami Mile Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The closest any foe got to the son of Kitten’s Joy was at the wire, when Middleburg made a late run that fell a head short. Hothersal also put in a rally between horses, but had to settle for show money finishing a neck behind Middleburg.
Under Edgar Prado, Smokem Kitten broke sharply from the gate and led the eight horse field out to honest fractions of 23.89 seconds for the opening quarter mile and 46.75 seconds for the half mile.
Having set a Gulfstream track record in his last outing at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf, Prado knew early on his mount was on good form.
“He was acting very sharp in the post parade,” Prado said. “Then when he broke so good, I didn’t want to fight him. He was moving along good every step of the way. At the top of the stretch he found another gear.”
As did Middleburg, who made a valiant run down the grandstand side. In the end, Smokem Kitten had enough to prevail in a photo to notch his third win in five career starts. His winning time was 1:33.01.
There was one other stakes on Saturday’s Gulfstream card, the $100,000 Powder Break Stakes, also at a mile on the turf for older fillies and mares. And like in the Miami Mile, it also was won gate to wire.
Joe Bravo, who flew in from Kentucky to ride at Gulfstream Saturday, hustled Cali Thirty Seven to the lead from the break and out to a 1 1/2-length lead through the opening quarter mile in 23.40 seconds.
Daring Kathy stalked the leader to her outside through the backstretch and closed ground heading into the far turn. However, she could not sustain the move as Cali Thirty Seven moved clear of her and the field and drew off in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
The win was the daughter of Eskendereya’s second in as many starts over the Gulfstream grass. The final time was 1:33.84. Favorite Notte d’Oro closed late for second and Susie Bee rallied from second from last for show.