HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Converge overcame a slow start and a relative lack of experience to register a well-deserved 3/4-length victory over a game Giant Run in Saturday's Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. A perfectly-judged ride by Javier Castellano was the fourth win of the day for the meet's leading jockey.
Making just the third start of his career, and first since a second-place finish in Belmont Park's Awad on October 30, the favorite Converge spotted his 12 rivals an early advantage when breaking slowest from the gate. But Castellano was able to angle over and put Converge in a good early position. He moved within easy striking distance on the second turn, found a seam to continue his bid between horses entering the stretch, before wearing down the leader Giant Run in late stretch. Giant Run prompted the pace of American Phantom, held the advantage leaving the furlong grounds, continued on willingly but could not contain Converge. Giant Run outlasted Ousby by a nose to finish second.
Converge, a New York-bred son of Sidney's Candy, is trained by Chad Brown for Paul Pompa Jr. He completed 1 1/16 miles over the firm course in 1:40.64 and returned $7.80.
"We know this horse doesn't have any early speed, and I just told Javier to try to tuck him in after the break, take your chances and try to find someone live to follow on the inside. Javier just rode a masterful race, and he had a real quality horse underneath him to do it."
Brown said he was uncertain what might be next for Converge.
"We planned on just giving him one start at Gulfstream, this race, to kick off his year," said Brown. "There are some big races this summer for him. In between now and then we haven't put in stone, but this was a great way to start off the year. Within the next couple of weeks we'll pick out the next race for him."
Brown also said there was no temptation to try the 3-year-old Converge on the dirt.
"He shows me no reason to put him on the dirt," said Brown. "You always have the Belmont Derby as your big dream for a horse in this category. It's July, it's a long way to get there, but to kick off the year winning a graded stakes, hopefully the sky is the limit for him."
Irish-bred Faufiler scores upset in Sand Springs
Faufiler finished full of run down the center of the course to register a one length, upset victory over 5-2 favorite Partisan Politics in the $100,000 Sand Springs for older fillies and mares. Celestine finished third.
Faufiler, an Irish-bred daughter of Galileo, was ridden to victory by Edgar Prado for trainer Graham Motion. She is owned by Flaxman Holdings. The win was the first for Prado since he returned to riding earlier this month after breaking six ribs in a fall here shortly after the meet began in December.
Faufiler paid $27.80."