HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ocala-based Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Souper Blessing, a 12-1 longshot, split horses down the stretch under a perfect ride by jockey Edwin Gonzalez to win Saturday’s $125,000 Tropical Park Derby. Souper Blessing also earned the $25,000 FTBOA Florida-bred win bonus.

Florida-bred Souper Blessing, a 3-year-old son of Temple City out of the Summer Bird mare Bird of Paradise trained by Michael Trombetta, covered the firm 1 1/16-mile course in 1:40.53. The colt has three wins from seven starts, winning twice on Tapeta.

After winning under allowance conditions at Presque Isle in August, Souper Blessing finished third in the Toronto Cup in September at Woodbine by only 1 ¼ lengths and was second by a neck at Gulfstream Park in November in the Showing Up. But the colt earned his first stakes win Saturday against 11 others in a very competitive race. Breaking cleanly from post 7, Gonzalez rated Souper Blessing along the rail in fifth around the first turn and entering the backstretch while Legacy Isle took the field past a quarter in :22.69 with Eyes On the King behind him and a half in :47.46 with Florida-bred Bobby O now behind him.

I wanted to be in the first turn inside saving ground, and then I had a perfect trip behind [Boppy O],” Gonzalez said.

Entering the stretch Souper Blessing was behind a wall of four horses, but inside the final eighth Gonzalez found a seam between Bobby O, who had taken the lead, and Smokey Mandate, before driving away to a half-length victory. Irish Aces, who got in off the also eligible list, rallied late for second while Bobby O finished third.

“When I asked him down the stretch he went right through,” Gonzalez said.

Chris Aro, assistant to Trombetta, said: “Last time he ran here he just shipped from Woodbine. I think he just needed to adjust. He’s been working lights out. Edwin did a great job.”

Souper Blessing returned $26.20.

Editor’s Note: Tammy A. Gantt contributed to this article.

Return to Dec. 23 issue of Wire to Wire