Soutache Sets New Stakes Record In Florida Sire Stakes’ Affirmed Division

GoldMark Farm's Soutache ($10) rallied from off the pace to capture the $200,000 Affirmed Division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes in record time Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

One of four entrants trained by Ralph Nicks in the seven-furlong event for 2-year-old colts and geldings sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida, Soutache eclipsed Three Rules' 2016 stakes record of 1:23.8 while covering the seven-eighths of a mile in a sharp 1:22.46.

The Affirmed co-featured a 13-race program that also included the $200,000 Susan's Girl for FSS-eligible 2-year-old fillies.

Soutache, who finished an even third in the first leg of the FSS series, the Dr. Fager, Aug. 5, wore blinkers for the first time in the Affirmed and rated nicely off the pace for jockey Eric Cancel as World of Trouble and Nicks-trained Capital S vied for the lead along the backstretch through fractions of 22.16 (seconds) and 44.84 through the first half-mile. World of Trouble, an impressive 14-length debut winner Aug. 10, took over the lead on the turn under Tyler Gaffalione, joined on the outside by Nicks-trained Phantom Ro, the front-running winner of the Dr. Fager, as Soutache launched a far-outside bid approaching the stretch.

World of Trouble sprinted clear at the top of the stretch but brushed with the inside rail while under a heavy drive as Soutache loomed boldly. The pacesetter continued on gamely but was unable to hold off Soutache, who prevailed by a half-length for Cancel, who ventured from Saratoga to ride a few Nicks-trained horses.

“I rode a couple before this one but didn't have any luck. This was worth the trip,” said Cancel, who captured his first U.S win at Gulfstream in 2015. “Ralph just said to sit behind, stalk the pace. At the half-mile pole I knew I had a lot of horse. so I just waited. As soon as I saw them start moving I just moved with them. My horse kept trying until the end.”

Southache, a GoldMark homebred colt sired by Backtalk impressed Nicks with his training since the Dr. Fager.

“His morning workouts have told me more about him than his breeding or anything else, and Backtalk was a very brilliant two-year-old himself,” said Nicks, whose winner breezed five-eighths of a mile in 59 4/5 seconds Aug. 23 in preparation for the Affirmed.

Soutache's victory was his second in three career starts. World of Trouble held second, 6 ¼ lengths ahead of Phantom Ro, the 6-5 favorite ridden who broke through the starting gate while loading, unseating jockey Edgard Zayas but stayed in the control of an assistant starter.

“He got stirred up a bit being in the post parade for a while and got a bit keyed up loading. Aiming for the next leg Soutache will go and I'm sure Phantom Ro will go and then we'll reevaluate Kingston Pike and Capital S,” said Nicks. “I was surprised with [Capital S's] effort. I expected him to be back and come running late, and he did things the wrong way today, so we'll reevaluate with him.”

The 2017 FSS Series will conclude Sept. 30 at Gulfstream Park with the renewals of the $400,000 In Reality for colts and geldings and the $400,000 My Dear Girl for fillies, both to be contested around two turns at 1 1/16 miles.

“I think the Florida Sire Stakes is a great program. I call it the Florida Sire Triple Crown,” Nicks said. “I mean these horses in general won't get the opportunity to run for this much money again and with that being said, there have been some really good horses who started their careers here.”

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