Starship Bonita stalked and pounced a hotly contested first half sweeping to convincing victory at 8-1 in the final race of the Florida HBPA Spring/Summer Stakes Series. A Florida-bred, Starship Bonita qualifies for the $25,0000 win-only portion of the lucrative prize money.
But that’s not all. The race was her third black-type win.
Tired and fading fast in a hotly contested three-horse speed dual, longshots Money or Love, Luna Lunita and Regan’s Rose set the race up perfectly for the 3-year-old daughter of Gone Astray.
Jockey Carlos Montalvo crossed the finish line in triumph looking back for any signs of fast closing competition – but didn’t find any.
Starship Bonita has been the model of consistency coming in the money in 9 of her 10 career starts earning her owners, Starship Stables, almost $500,000 in purses. “She’s $3,000 from a half million. She always tries and she’s pretty competitive. She just likes to run,” said trainer Steve Dwoskin when asked about how he keeps her so sharp.
“We only run horses in a position where they think they can win. We don’t just give her races. And we’re very picky, making sure they are healthy, their sound and they’re ready to give their best. Or we don’t run them,” said owner Laurence Leavy “Marlins Man”. “If you see our horses in, you know we think it’s going to run well.”
Heavily favored Stormy Embrace struggled with a slow start and encountered heavy traffic, but turned in solid performance, slicing through traffic to finish third in a close photo with 25-1 longshot Ms. Meshak. The Joe Orseno trainee got a great ground-saving rail trip by jockey Edgard Zayas who, like the favorite, had to shake free from traffic and closed strongly for the place.
Although the race upfront was fast and furious, the finale was never in doubt. It was just a matter of how many lengths Starship Bonita would put on the other horses.
“I thought there was going to be a bunch of speed in the race, that I thought it would come back and we would catch it. But I didn’t expect her to win that easily. I thought she’d catch them at the wire,” said Leavy.
So, what’s next for Starship Bonita?
“Steve doesn’t know this, but we have to see what the Breeder’s Cup entries are. If it’s not as tough as it turned out to be last year, I’m going to try to talk Steve into gong to the Breeder’s Cup. A lot of those horses have run too many races in their career and they’re sort of worn out. I don’t know if she can handle open company, but she’s really fit and sound,” Leavy said.
“We love it [FHBPA Stakes Series]. We love it. I think it’s great. It encourages Florida-breds. People are always talking about how the breeding awards are not as big as they are in New York, but New York has nothing like our Stallion Stakes. Here in Florida the trainers and owners get more money. It’s better as an owner and trainer to be here in Florida,” he continued.
When the dust of pounding hooves settled, ten horses proved themselves as winners. The Florida HBPA wants to thank the owners, the trainers, Gulfstream Park, the Stronach Group, the horsemen and especially the fans for your enthusiasm, and we hope you enjoyed the action.
Again, a big thanks to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for the 2019 Spring/Summer Stakes Series.