Breeze Easy’s Imprimis, racing for the first time in six months and up
against a world-record holder and a Grade 3 winner in his return, easily
disposed of both rivals and drew off to a convincing 3 ¼-length victory
in Saturday’s $75,000 Silks Run at Gulfstream Park.
The fifth running of the Silks Run for 4-year-olds and up was the co-headliner on a 13-race program along with the $75,000 Captiva Island for older females, both turf sprints going five furlongs.
Imprimis ($6.60), whose Latin-derived name means ‘in the first place,’ completed the distance in a sparkling 54.64 seconds over firm ground, his fourth win in as many starts over the Gulfstream turf. It was also the third consecutive win for jockey Paco Lopez to open Saturday’s card.
“I had the best horse in the race, I think. He was very sharp,” Lopez said. “In the gate he was a little nervous. Today was his first start off the layoff. I didn’t want to go head to head with [Pay Any Price]. I wanted to wait with him for a little bit. At the three-eighths, half-mile pole, I asked him and he galloped.”
Six-time stakes winner Pay Any Price set the world record for five furlongs on turf winning the 2017 Silks Run in 53.61 seconds, and was defeated in defense of his title last winter by Vision Perfect, who went on to take the Parx Dash (G3) last summer.
Those two went out fastest of all in Saturday’s race, Pay Any Price hugging the rail and Vision Perfect attacking to his outside, sizzling through a quarter-mile in 20.68 seconds and a half in 42.92. Lopez settled Imprimis in third, asked him a bit on the turn to keep up, then tipped outside nearing the top of the stretch. Once in the clear, Imprimis blew past the leaders without urging and cruised to the wire.
“You’re always worried about the horses and the speed, but worked out to our benefit. Paco did the right thing because the horse was fresh and wanted to go, and he eased off of him,” winning trainer Joe Orseno said. “It’s not what we wanted, anyway, to be head and head and get him tired. We’re obviously planning on bigger and better races but this was a great start in a tough race to get started in.”
Pay Any Price was passed by Vision Perfect in mid-stretch, dug in again to forge a short lead, then tired late and was beaten for second by a neck. It was 2 ¼ lengths back to Singandcryindubai, followed by Fixed Point and Apache Brave.
“I know he likes this turf course. It’s a different turf course than it was last year, but I thought he’d handle it because he’d worked so well on in a few times,” Orseno said. “We have a couple races in mind so we wanted to get a good race into him, but everybody knew that if it didn’t happen today that we’re planning down the road. I want to win every race I’m in so I had him ready, it just came up so tough with [Vision Perfect] and the [Pay Any Price]. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Minor bone bruising after running fourth by less than a length in the Turf Monster (G3) Sept. 3 at Parx, a race where Vision Perfect was second, kept Imprimis from starting until Saturday. He won five of seven starts in 2018, including stakes wins in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at legendary Pimlico Race Course and Wold Hill at Monmouth Park.
Orseno said the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) May 3 is the next goal for Imprimis, with a possible prep in the Shakertown (G2) April 6 at Keeneland. Both races are run on the turf at 5 ½ furlongs.
“The race at Keeneland is on the map, but it’s 29 days. The race at Churchill, for sure; that’s on our radar too. Eventually we’d like to see if he’ll go a little further, maybe seven-eighths something like that. Right now we’ll cherish this one and see when we can get him back in.”
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