Speedy Bro, Significant Speed Win

(Saturday, November 2, 2002) - Speedy Bro lived up to his name Friday night at Lone Star Park in the world’s shortest stakes, the $15,000 Gridiron Gallop. The 4-year-old American Quarter Horse dashed 100 yards in a swift :06.47 on a “fast” main track to edge nine rivals. Turfinator, the mild 3-1 favorite, finished a nose back of the winner and placed second in the unique horse race for the second straight year.

“It’s all luck,” admitted Speedy Bro’s trainer Anthony Arey. “Whoever breaks the best, wins the race.”

The Gridiron Gallop was one of five stakes races at Lone Star Park on Friday night. Saturday’s 12-race program at the Dallas area racetrack features the 10th running of the MBNA America Challenge Championships – American Quarter Horse racing’s equivalent to the Super Bowl.

In other races Friday, Significant Speed, the 2000 AQHA Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and winner of that year’s Dash For Cash Derby at Lone Star Park, returned to top form with a win in the $20,000 6666 Ranch Handicap; Special Cartel prevailed in the $25,000 American Quarter Horse Racing Journal Stakes; Durability won the $25,000 Los Alamitos Stakes; and Racing Winner was victorious in the $25,000 Hertz Rent-A-Car Stakes.

Speedy Bro, the 6-1 fourth wagering choice, paid $15.20 to win the Gridiron Gallop. Juan Vazquez, tacking 123 pounds, rode the winner for owner Geral Dewitt of Garland, Texas, who captured the inaugural Gridiron Gallop in 1999 with The Pies On Me.

“It’s a big feat to win this race,” said Dewitt, Lone Star Park’s perennial leading owner. “I really didn’t think we could win this race with a $4,000 horse – that’s what he was earlier this year. But he’s done good. This is the first time he ever hooked up with the real good short-running horses. These are the best ones around.”

“I had my choice between Speedy Bro and [ninth-place finisher] Tiger Toole,” Vazquez said. “I told my agent that I wanted to ride Speedy Bro. The gates opened and he took the lead. He’s a nice horse at a short distance.”

The victory, worth $8,250, was Speedy Bro’s seventh in 26 career starts and sixth in 13 starts this year. The winner’s share boosted his earnings to $34,540.

“I had a horse, Smashed O’Toole, that was probably the best horse I had for this race and we sold him,” Arey said. “This horse was our second choice for the race.”

Later on the card, Scarlett Hill Farm Inc.’s champion Significant Speed, the 4-5 fan’s choice, held off Bugs by Yawl and Valors Gold to win the 6666 Ranch Handicap, a 400-yard dash for 3-year-olds and up. Under Roy Baldillez, the 5-year-old mare completed the distance in :19.80 and won by a neck.

“She came on to run a big race for us,” said Baldillez, who rode the winner for his main employer, trainer “Sleepy” Gilbreath. “She’s running on a lot better this end of the year versus last year.”

Overall, Significant Speed has won 12 of 30 starts and $487,845.

Southern California invader Special Cartel was victorious in the American Quarter Racing Journal Stakes, a 350-yard dash for 2-year-olds completed in :17.55. Under Raul Ramirez Jr., he bested 5-2 favorite Cayenne Chispa by a half-length.

“He’s really blossomed and gained a lot of weight,” trainer Heath Taylor said. “He came into this race really, really good. These horses go through a lot hauling across the country, especially a baby. You’ve got climatic, feed, dietary and racetrack surface changes to deal with, along with changing shoes, medication and things like that. There’s a lot that plays into it. People don’t realize what that long haul takes out of a horse. Now that he’s garnered that back, he’s strong and ready to run.”

Taylor indicated that Jose Flores and Armando Leon’s Special Cartel would return to Cypress, Calif., and attempt to qualify to the Los Alamitos Million.

Speaking of Los Alamitos, Jeff Acuna-trainee Durability closed fast to win the Los Alamitos Stakes, an 870-yard marathon for 3-year-olds and up. The 4-year-old Some Dasher gelding, owned by J.W. Owens, stopped the clock in :45.39 to defeat Racin Vick by a neck.

“The horse ran a really good race,” said Jerry Lee Yoakum, who replaced an injured Danny Lavergne in the saddle. “He doesn’t break real well most of the time and he always comes from way out of it. He was a little bit closer [Friday]. He’s usually six or seven [lengths] out of it. Coming around the turn, I could see those other horses in front of me. When we straightened up, I moved him to the outside and he picked them up pretty easy. About 100 yards before the wire, I knew he was going to win. He ran a big race.”

Jerry Windham’s 4-year-old filly Racing Winner, ridden by Tad Leggett, won the final stakes race of evening, the Hertz Rent-A-Car, a 400-yard sprint for fillies and mares. She defeated 5-2 favorite Carlotta Dream by a half-length in :19.75.

“Going into this race, I had a lot of confidence in her,” trainer Ed Hardy said. “I’m real proud of the horse.”

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