Spirit Wind produced a heart-warming victory for Jane Brei and her Jacks or Better Farm Inc. with an impressive gate-to-wire score in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park Saturday.

“I know heaven is rockin’ and rollin’ again,” Brei said referring to her late husband Fred, the patriarch of Jacks or Better Farm Inc. who passed away in March. “Today’s win was very special.”

Bred in Florida and owned by Jacks or Better Farm Inc. Spirit Wind was sharp in making her first start since finishing fourth behind champion Echo Zulu in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs on May 29.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz from the outside post in the field of seven fillies and mares in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl, Spirit Wind jumped to a clear lead from the start and had daylight on her rivals down the backstretch. She extended her lead to two lengths past the half-mile pole with a :22.23 first-quarter clocking as 6-5 favorite Intrepid Daydream, who had a four-race win streak coming into the Sugar Swirl, and Florida-bred Magna Massa chased in second.

Spirit Wind stretched her lead to three lengths turning for home when Intrepid Daydream began trying to close the gap. However, Spirit Wind maintained a clear margin past the eighth pole and held off Intreprid Daydream to win by a half-length in 1:10.58 on the fast track.

Intrepid Daydream finished second, a neck faster than Olivia Darling in third. They were followed, in order, by My Destiny, Florida-bred Bluefield, Napa Candy and Magna Massa.

Trained by Carlos A. David, Spirit Wind paid $8.40 to win as the 3-1 second choice.

“Carlos [David] told me the works she’s had here were very good work. Obviously has back class and she obviously has speed,” Ortiz said. “She gave me a good jump out of the gate. She broke very clean. She relaxed very good.”

“Despite being away from the races for seven months, I felt pretty confident that she would run well today,” said Chris Gabel of Jacks or Better Farm. “I want to give a lot of credit to our staff at our Jacks or Better Farm training operation here in Ocala. Carlos Gutierrez and his staff, including grooms and exercise riders, do a great job.”

Spirit Wind had been sent to David’s barn approximatley a month before the Sugar Swirl and had only work prior to the race.

“I wanted to give her one more work, but we had the bad weather,” David said. “I told Jose, ‘She might need the race. There’s a lot of speed. Just break good. If some of the others go to the lead, just sit.’ She grabbed the lead and as soon as she got the lead, she relaxed a little bit.”

Spirit Wind has now won five of eight career starts with two seconds and her $100,950 payday increased her earnings to $362,440. The winning check included a $25,000 Florida-bred win bonus presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.

Spirit Wind is by Double Diamond Farm stallion Bahamian Squall out of Sacred Psalm, by Awesome of Course. Both Sacred Psalm and Awesome of Course were bred in Florida and raced for Jacks or Better Farm Inc.

Sacred Psalm has eight winners from eight starters and 12 foals including multiple stakes-winner Sing Praises, by Jacks or Better stallion Hear No Evil; stakes-placed Silent Prayer, by Jacks or Better Farm stallion Brooks ‘n Down; and stakes-placed Guardian Angel, by Jess’s Dream. Her 2-year-old colt, David’s Songs, by Brooks ‘n Down, is set to make his first career start in a maiden special weight at Tampa Bay Downs Sunday.

Return to Dec. 23 issue of Wire to Wire