(Dreaming of Kona wins Mucho Macho Man Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Gulfstream Park)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
Aldana Gonzalez Racing LLC and Lisa and Steve Ballou’s Dreaming of Kona was awarded the victory in Sunday’s $150,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park following the disqualification of first-place finisher Legacy Isle.
The Mucho Macho Man, a one-turn mile stakes for 3-year-olds, was the first stop on the April 1 Road to the Florida Derby (G1).
David Walters, Dennis Smith, Anthony Smith and trainer Rohan Crichton’s Legacy Island led from start of finish while running a mile in 1:37.55 but was disqualified and placed second following a lengthy stewards’ inquiry and a review of an objection by the rider of Dreaming of Kona Scott Spieth for drifting out approaching the finish.
The Mucho Macho Man was the first stakes victory for Dreaming of Kona, who finished third in the Dec. 3 Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs following a sharp 5 ½-length debut victory over Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs.
“He won his first race so incredibly handily at Presque Isle, but the competition wasn’t of this caliber. So, for him to put a performance like this in against this caliber of competition really kind of causes us to recalibrate our thoughts,” Lisa Ballou said.
Legacy Isle was hustled to the lead from the rail post position and quickly opened a clear lead along the backstretch, running the first quarter of a mile in a sharp 22.79 seconds while chased a couple lengths back by Dreaming of Kona. Legacy Isle continued to show the way following a half-mile in 45.20 seconds while shortening stride somewhat turning into the homestretch. General Jim, the 2-1 favorite, loomed boldly on the rail at the top of the stretch, but jockey Luis Saez’s efforts to find running room in the stretch were repeatedly thwarted by the tiring pacesetter and closest pursuer.
Despite setting fast fractions, Legacy Isle clung to the lead while shortening stride inside the final sixteenth when he drifted into the path of the equally game Dreaming of Kona. Despite falling short of victory by a half length, the Aldana Speith-trained son of Fast Anna was ruled the winner for being the victim of interference.
Dreaming of Kona ($41.40) finished a neck clear of a fast-closing Lord Miles. General Jim finished an unlucky fourth, another three-quarters of a length back.
In his recent Tampa Bay Downs stakes appearance, Dreaming of Kona finished four lengths behind Super Show, who won his fifth race in six career starts while capturing the Limehouse Stakes earlier on Sunday’s program.
“I felt really good. I liked the way he broke. The last race he came in third against Super Chow, who won the stakes earlier today, and he got bumped at the break. I was very frustrated by that because I felt like that cost him,” Ballou said. “Today when I saw him break well I felt really good. I liked how Scott put him in that second position. He likes to be kind of in front, but this was the first time he had gone the mile distance, so we were a little bit concerned. I loved his position all the way around. Once they were turning for home I was like, ‘He’s got this,’ because he always likes to surge in the end like that. He just keeps fighting. This is his third race. In the end, he always looks like he’s got another 400 yards in him. It’s crazy.”
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