BY BROCK SHERIDAN
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL—Leon King Stable Corp.’s Bentornato continues to impress with each start as the Florida-bred colt is now a perfect four-for-four with another commanding victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the seven-furlong Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed. Under regular rider Emisael Jaramillo, Bentornato survived an objection and steward’s inquiry to become the 22nd colt or gelding to win the $100,000 Dr. Fager and $200,000 Affirmed, the first two legs of the male division of the lucrative series for progeny by accredited Florida stallions.
Should the son of Bridlewood Farm stallion Valiant Minister win the $400,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes In Reality going a mile-and-a-sixteenth at Gulfstream on Dec. 2, he would join 10 other colts who have swept the series first run in at Calder Race Course in 1982—the most recent being Awesome Strong last year.
Like Awesome Strong, Bentornato won the Affirmed as the odds-on favorite at 4-5 with a winning margin just a quarter-length off of Awesome Strong’s three-length score last year.
Breaking from post seven, Bentornato bumped Seminole Chief at the start of the Affirmed but got away well to race head and head with 26-1 longshot Esperon and 91-1 outsider Lasso through a quarter-mile split in :22.59. Bentornato began to edge clear around the far turn as Esperon and Lasso surrendered and after a half-mile in :45.50, Hollywood Beach-winner Mattingly and New York-invader Hurricane Nelson took up the chase.
But Bentornato was never threatened in the stretch and cruised under the finish line in 1:23.50 on the fast track. Mattingly finished a neck ahead of third-place finisher Hurricane Nelson with Roar, Sound of the Beast, Seminole Chief, Squints, Secret Lover, Echo Lane, Lasso, Esperon and Rye’s My Guy completing the order of finish.
Jockey Marco Meneses aboard Squints lodged a claim of foul against Bentornato for interference leaving the backstretch chute, but the judges did not agree and kept the order of finish.
Bentornato paid $3.60 to win.
“I am so happy. We were so high on him,” trainer Jose D’Angelo said of Bentornato. “We were prepping him, not for this race, but for the [In Reality] because maybe it will be harder for him. He responded very well. He didn’t look too sharp and needs to have the lead. Going two turns, maybe he will get slower fractions and he will do better.”
The Affirmed was the third career stakes victory for Bentornato having won the $90,000 Proud Man by four-and-a-half lengths at six furlongs on Aug. 12 before winning the Dr. Fager. He won a maiden special weight against fellow Florida-breds on debut over a sloppy five furlongs on July 1.
He has now earned $278,830 after selling for $170,000 at this year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales March Sale where Champion Equine selected him out of the Golden Rock Thoroughbreds consignment. Pro Racing Stable paid $45,000 for the son of Her Special Way, by Put It Back.
Her Special Way has one other winner from three starters and five foals with Bentornato her only stakes performer. Bentornato has a yearling full brother and a weanling half-sister by Saketini. He was bred by Tanma Corp.
Return to Oct. 21 issue of Wire to Wire