2023 Orchid Stakes & More GP Graded Races Recap

Saturday 1st April saw a loaded card at Gulfstream Park Racetrack that featured a whole host of graded races including the 2023 Orchid Stakes

One of the most competitive races of the day was the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes.

With eight runners in the field, trainers Saffie Joseph and Michael Maker had over half of the runners in the field. With both boasting a strong hand, it was Maker who would go onto win this race for the second time after his eight-year-old Therapist would battle to win the ninth graded stakes race of his glittering career.

Finding a seam up the inside rail, the veteran found an extra gear to fly home and just deny stablemate Bay Street Money his first-ever graded stakes win.

Supporting the Pan American Stakes were a pair of Grade 3 contests in the shape of the 2023 Orchid Stakes and Ghostzapper Stakes.

Exclusive to fillies and mares, the 2023 Orchid Stakes saw eight horses head down to post for this year’s renewal. There were two unknown quantities in the race with the Christophe Clement pair of Amazing Grace and Atomic Blonde having their first runs in America since leaving Germany.

In what was a thriller of a contest, it was Amazing Grace who edged the race in a dramatic finish. With a win on her US debut, it will be fascinating to see where she shows up next. 

The Ghostzapper stakes saw one of the upsets of the card after Clapton pulled off the shock to win the greatest prize of his career in battling fashion. 

Managing to hold off the heavily fancied O’Connor, Clapton was able to find an extra gear inside the final furlong to deny the Saffie Joseph runner in the final strides.

Race favorite Simplification was looking to win his first race since emerging victorious in last season’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth but the Antonio Sano runner would end up running a poor race to finish fifth. 

Pan American Stakes

1 & a half miles, Grade 2 Turf, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $200,000

  1. Therapist +4000
  2. Bay Street Money +9000
  3. Master Piece +120

Winning Time: 2m:29.22

With Saffie Joseph and Michael Maker saddling five of the eight-runner field, it was expected that this race would end up heading back to one of their respective barns.

A mile-and-a-half marathon on the turf, the favorite for the contest was the Joseph-trained Master Piece. A Grade 1 winner back in his native Chile, he was looking for his first graded success since moving to the States.

Keen to make it a real stamina test, it was Ry’s The Guy who led the field through the early stages.

Setting a fast and furious pace, the field were stretched out behind with some of the field feeling the pinch a fair way out from home.

With half a mile to run, the order and shape of the race would dramatically change as Master Piece would cruise to the front.

With Master Piece traveling smoothly it looked like it was his race to lose, however deep inside the final furlong he started to paddle and opened up the door for the Maker-trained pair of Bay Street Money and Therapist to take advantage.

With Bay Street Money looking like the most likely danger, Therapist was able to find a seam up the inside rail and poked his nose in front with just a hundred yards to go. Holding on for a narrow victory, the win marked Therapist’s ninth stakes win of his career. The wait for a first graded stakes win goes on for both Bay Street Money and Master Piece who would go onto finish second and third respectively.

Pan American Stakes Payouts

1. Therapist$11.00$6.00$3.40
2. Bay Street Money$9.00$4.40
3. Master Piece$2.20

2023 Orchid Stakes

1 & a half miles, Grade 3 Turf, open to fillies & mares aged four and over. Total prize pool: $150,000

  1. Amazing Grace +175
  2. Personal Best +225
  3. Atomic Blonde +800

Winning Time: 2m:28.82

The Orchid Stakes saw one of the best races of the day unfold. A field of eight cantered down to post for this year’s renewal, with the Christophe Clement-trained Amazing Grace starting the race as the favorite.

A German import, she was having her first run in the States following a solid career in her native Germany which saw her place third in Grade 1 company. 

With all eight horses holding a chance of some sort, it was Transient who set the early fractions and led the field through the first lap.

Transient would run gamely and would maintain her lead until the runners hit the home turn. With pressure building behind her, it was another of the Christophe Clement newcomers Atomic Blonde who powered through to the front. 

As she hit the front her every move was tracked by Personal Best. With the two expected to battle it out for victory, Amazing Grace, who had spent the large majority of the race traveling in the rear, found a burst of speed and looked to throw down a significant challenge. 

With under a furlong to run, Amazing Grace was traveling like the best horse and burst through to lead. Despite the best efforts of both Personal Best and Atomic Blonde, Amazing Grace wouldn’t be for catching capping her American debut with an impressive win.

Personal Best would hold on for second with Atomic Blonde showing significant promise on debut to finish in third. 

2023 Orchid Stakes Payouts

1. Amazing Grace$4.40$3.00$2.40
2. Personal Best$3.40$2.80
3. Atomic Blonde$4.20

Ghostzapper Stakes

1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 Dirt, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $150,000

  1. Clapton +2100
  2. O’Connor +333
  3. Surly Furious +600

Winning time: 1m:42.94

One of the final graded races of a busy Saturday card was the Ghostzapper Stakes. 

Heading the field of seven runners was the Antonio Sano-trained Simplification. A winner of last year’s Fountain of Youth, Simplification headed into the race losing his last nine races but the majority of those contests had come at the very highest of levels and he was expected to challenge back in calmer waters.

Dedicated front runner Surly Furious led the field through the early stages of the race with the outsider of the field Clapton tucked in nicely behind.

Tracking their every move was former Chilean Grade 1 winner O’Connor who was looking to land the first graded win of his American career. 

With Surly Furious giving way at the top of the stretch, it was O’Connor who just edged past Clapton. With many expecting O’Connor to go on and win the race, Clapton and jockey Emisael Jaramillo had other plans. 

With just a furlong to run, Jaramillo asked Clapton for everything he had and he responded in stunning style. Finding an extra gear, Clapton was able to move alongside his much more fancied rival and with the shadows of the post looming, was able to stick his head out in front to nab the biggest win of his career. 

Connections of O’Connor would continue to be frustrating as he would finish in a brave second with Surly Furious hanging on for third. Simplification’s losing run continues to mount as the race favorite could only finish in a disappointing fifth place.

Ghostzapper Stakes Payouts

1. Clapton$44.40$13.40$6.20
2. O’Connor$5.20$3.20
3. Surly Furious$4.60

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