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Saturday, March 3
Sir Bear gets distance, win




HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - An anxiety-filled week for trainer Ralph Ziadie ended in spectacular fashion Saturday afternoon as Sir Bear, the 8-year-old Florida-bred gelding, rallied past Pleasant Breeze in the final 50 yards to win the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap by a half-length.

Sir Bear
Sir Bear (left) had run in this race twice previously, finishing fourth to Skip Away in 1998 and third toBehrens in 1999.
It was 1 1/2 lengths back to third-place finisher Broken Vow, who finished six lengths clear of Vision and Verse. Gander, Cat's at Home, Duckhorn, Salty Note, and With Anticipation completed the order of finish.

Sir Bear had run in this race twice previously, finishing fourth to Skip Away in 1998 and third to Behrens in 1999. Up until Saturday morning, Sir Bear was a question mark for the 56th renewal of this Grade 1 fixture after tying up several times during the week.

"I didn't make a final decision [to run] until this morning when I galloped him and he didn't tie up," said Ziadie, who added he had never galloped a horse on the morning of a race. "I knew when I saw that look in his eye coming off the track he was ready to run."

The big question was whether he was ready to run 1 1/4 miles. In three previous tries at the distance, he had finished no better than third. He was beaten only a half-length in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban in 1998 at Belmont Park. "I was a little concerned about the distance," said winning rider Eibar Coa.

As a result, Coa decided to let Sir Bear settle near the back of the pack and make one run. He was aided by a three-ply speed duel that had Pleasant Breeze, Duckhorn, and Gander within a half-length of each other through early fractions of 22.94 seconds and 46.35.

Coa saved ground until the turn for home when he swung Sir Bear into the four path. He set sail after Pleasant Breeze - who turned back Vision and Verse and Broken Vow turning for home - and caught that one late. Sir Bear, who won for the 18th time in 57 starts, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.96 and returned $21 to win.

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