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AZPURUA JR. DEDICATES GINGER PUNCH WIN TO LATE UNCLE MANNY

from left to right – Neirah Sankar, FHBPA Vice President Chester Bishop, Lindsay White, FHBPA President Bill White, Gulfstream Park Vice President of Racing P.J. Campo, Jockey Edgard Zayas, Trainer Leo Azpurua, Jr, Monica Azpurua

As Somthingelse held off a hard charging Bitacora, the victory was bittersweet for trainer Leo Azpurua, Jr., whose uncle and legendary trainer Manny Azpurua passed away at the age of 88 this past Tuesday.

Minutes after the epic hard-fought win, he spoke reflectively about it.

Dedicated to the memory of trainer Manny Azpurua

“To me, this was more than just winning a race. It’s winning for him. It’s very emotional,” he said. “Manny, along with my father, have always been very supportive of my racing career.”

“I also want to thank Randy Bradshaw and Commonwealth Stables for allowing me to develop the horse and take all the time I want with her and for all the confidence they have in me,” he added.

What made the victory so sweet, was the fact that Somethingelse turned the tables on 7 to 5 favorite Family Meeting, who bested her on April 2nd at Tampa Bay Downs in the $100,000 Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff.

“This was a milestone we wanted to reach. She was always close but no cigar. Now that we have the cigar, we’ll look and see what we have and keep all of our options open. I would like to keep her record going, as strong as it is and put her in the right places without making any mistakes. We want to continue winning some nice handicaps and stakes where she can continue growing.” Azpurua pointed out.

Jockey Edgard Zayas gave Somethingelse a masterful ride in what turned out to be a very slow early pace. He kept a perfect drafting position outside of pacesetter My Little Princess, and when he gave Somethingelse her cue she responded perfectly.

“I told him, ‘If there’s pace, it’s in your hands. If there’s no pace, make a run after stalking the pacesetter like she always does. When the fractions are 26 and 52, you can’t be waiting for anybody,” he continued.

Afterward Azpurua confided, “It was really tight, I was riding her home to the finish!”

A continued positive sign for the FHBPA stakes series, is the fact that the top two finishers, Somethingelse and Bitacora, were both purchased at the OBS 2-year-old auctions, while the third-place finisher Family Meeting was not sold via public auction.That means 8 out of 9 horses in the first three FHBPA stakes series races came out of the Ocala sales which is very significant as those 8 horses now have black-type status as a Florida-bred.

Handle for the day was a robust $13.5 million. The Ginger Punch drew $745,293.

WATCH SOMETHING ELSE’S THRILLING WIN IN THE GINGER PUNCH