Breeze On By Leads Stonehedge Superfecta In Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed

Breeze On By led a 1-2-3-4 finish for Stonehedge LLC at Gulfstream Park with a commanding 7 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed, the second leg of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes for juveniles sired by accredited Florida stallions at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla..

The Affirmed, a seven furlong open division, co-headlined Saturday’s program with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl, a seven-furlong stakes for fillies, which were supported by the $75,000 Proud Truth, a mile turf stakes for 2-year-olds, and the $75,000 Sharp Susan, a mile turf stakes for juvenile fillies. All four stakes were included in the six-race sequence of the Rainbow 6 on a day when a mandatory payout was held.

Trainer Ralph Nicks, who saddled Breeze On By for a victory in the $100,000 Dr. Fager in the first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes four weeks earlier, won his fourth consecutive running of the Affirmed. The son of Cajun Breeze also gave Nicks his eighth Florida Sire Stakes success since 2016 while providing Gil Campbell’s Stonehedge Farm with a 15th victory in the tradition-rich series.

“I just feel blessed to be in Florida for seven years and win this many [Sire] Series,” said Nicks, who also captured the Affirmed the previous three seasons with Soutache (2017), Garter and Tie (2018) and Liam’s Lucky Charm (2019). “I learned early on that you need to be a part of this and was lucky to have owners send me some talented horses and it’s worked.”

The Nicks-trained Big Daddy Dave and Seazan finished second and third, respectively, while the Kathleen O’Connell-trained Top Boss finished fourth to round out the Stonehedge superfecta.

Breeze On By, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, broke alertly from the starting gate but was beaten for the early lead by Gatsby, the 5-2 second choice who showed the way along the backstretch under a hustling ride by Hector Berrios. Breeze On By pressed the pace during swift fractions of 22.14 and 44.22 for the first half mile before putting away the tiring pacesetter on the turn into the homestretch and drawing away to a comfortable victory.

Breeze On By, undefeated in three starts, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.75. Big Daddy Dave made a wide bid of the final turn and finished second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of a late-rallying Seazan.

“They’re nice horses. Thank you to Stonehedge for sending us some great horses. We’re lucky to work with such talented horses,” Nicks said. “Breeze On By was able to rate and sit there with Big Daddy Dave in the hunt and could have pushed if he needed to, but he will settle and follow if he needs to.}

Breeze On By is scheduled to make a bid to become the fifth male to sweep the Florida Sire Stakes in the $400,000 In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile series finale Sept. 26. With a victory he would join Three Rules (2016), Sir Oscar (2003), Seacliff (1995) and Smile (1984)

“Doing this series is tough on them and we’ll see. There are two other horses in this race that ran well so nothing will be a gift, but it’s nice to have a horse this talented and have those options in front of you.”

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