by Sarah Mace – Last year’s juvenile male New York-bred standout, three-time stakes-winner IBBOYEE, and four-year-old filly turf specialist AKILINA made forays into Graded stakes company at Gulfstream on Saturday and both rose to the occasion with third-place finishes in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes and Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes, respectively.
Anstu Stables’ IBBOYEE (Medallist/Expect Excellence [Pentelicus], bred by Dr. Patricia S. Purdy), who was making his first start outside New York, proved he was a competitive and serious three-year-old in his third-place finish in the Grade 2 $150,000 seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes. It was no secret that the main competition in the race would come from the eventual one-two finishers: D’ Funnybone (1.10-to-1 favorite), two-time Grade 2 winner of the Saratoga Special and Belmont’s Futurity, who was making his three-year-old debut, and A Little Warm (2.40-to-1 second choice), most recently winner of the Spectacular Bid with a three-figure Beyer Speed Figure. Ibboyee got less respect as the fifth choice in the betting (11.90-to-1), but showed his mettle in the company. The Todd Pletcher trainee broke a little slowly from post three under jockey John Velazquez, who was riding the colt for the first time, but settled in at the rail in sixth place. He then showed no hesitation in moving up to pass rivals on the inside and, after cutting the corner neatly when coming out of the turn, moved briefly into second place. He crossed the wire in third place just two lengths behind the winner. The final time for the race was 1:22.14. With the third-place finish, Ibboyee improved his record to 4-0-1 in seven starts with earnings of $373,298.
Oak Bluff Stables homebred and Christophe Clement trainee AKILINA (Langfuhr/Fahamore [Gulch]) likewise gave a good account of herself in her first try in graded stakes competition as she faced an imposing fourteen-horse field in the one-mile $100,000 Grade 3 Honey Fox on the turf; the four-year-old was also relatively dismissed by the bettors, as fifth choice at post time (6.80-to-1). The eventual winner, Wasted Tears, grabbed the lead shortly after the start and never relinquished it; second-place finisher, Quiet Harbor, stalked outside and rallied in the stretch. Akilina got out of the gate well under regular rider Rajiv Maragh, and settled in at the rail in sixth position about six lengths behind the leader. She made a steady advance along the back stretch and on the turn, before angling out to pass one rival near the top of the stretch, and then maneuvering back inside to pass another. She finished competitively, keeping a neck in front of Romacaca who was challenging just to outside. The pace was snappy (with the first quarter going in 22.44, and three-quarters in 1:10.91), and the final time for the mile was 1:33.81. Akilina now has a record of 6-3-2 in 14 starts with $256,310 in earnings.