The Forty Niner Handicap (Grade 2)- $300.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Dirt
October 28, 2023
Surprise Authority had run long several times in his past, and he had done well when doing so. The last time that he had won a race, May 2022, was also the last time that he went at least a mile. Since then, he’s been sprinting and also performing well, but the gelding did not win any of those races. In the Forty Niner Handicap, he would be stretched out and showed his trainer, Spankys Barn, how much he likes doing that, with a wire-to-wire win at odds of 18/1. It’s the first win in the race both for Spankys Barn and the jockey, I Ortiz Jr. Congratulations to them! The time of the win was 1:34.04, which is faster than last year’s winning time. Let’s take a look at it!
(1/4 Mile- :23.14)- Several horses look to take the early lead in the race, and we end up with them still five wide after a quarter mile. Among them is our eventual winner, Spankys Barn’s Surprise Authority, and he will run in the fourth lane here. To his outside is the well-known Gigabyte, out of Smokey Stover. From the rail, the other three near the front are Fighting Dragon (Night Rider Stables), Pompano Beach (Threshold) and the 2021 winner of the then-named Kelso Handicap, Need 4 Speed (The Sidley Stud). Stalking this group are Lokoya Road (Mb Stables) and Xavier Breath (Maxmillion Farm). A length behind them, we have Mohegan Smoke (Asgar) and Tango Mango (Axeman), and the trailers are First Fleet (High Voltage) and State Dream (Spb Racing). There’s only about 3-4 lengths separating first and last at this point.
(1/2 Mile- :46.52)- If we were expecting things to change, or at least more distance to be created from front to back during the backstretch, that did not happen. They remain five wide at the front with Surprise Authority and Gigabyte matching one another’s stride. Pompano Beach is right there with them, and Need 4 Speed is hanging tough. Fighting Dragon seemed as though he would not be there much longer, however. Xavier Breath and Lokoya Road continue to stalk with Mohegan Smoke closeby. Tango Mango drops back a tad and now runs with First Fleet and State Dream.
(Top of Stretch, 1.8F To Go)- Surprise Authority looked terrific within the turn and is able to put away Gigabyte with ease. He’s now a full length ahead of Pompano Beach, so considering that they get closer again, it’s safe to say that Surprise Authority won this race in the turn. Need 4 Speed is still third, then it’s Gigabyte, and Xavier Breath running on the outside making a bid. Fighting Dragon is starting to show signs of fatigue and is about to be passed by Lokoya Road. The others are four wide across the track.
(Finish- 1:34.04)- Surprise Authority enters the stretch, and with a furlong to go, seemed to be maintaining his advantage. However, in the final moments, he would lose some of that and had to deal with the resilient Pompano Beach looking to come back on the inside. It ends up being very close at the wire, and the valiant effort by Pompano Beach should not be overlooked even though it was not enough to get by Surprise Authority. It’s nearly a length to Xavier Breath, while Tango Mango and Lokoya Road will split the fourth-place check. There was another dead heat between Need 4 Speed and State Dream. The rest of the order will read Gigabyte, First Fleet, Fighting Dragon, and Mohegan Smoke.
About The Winner- Surprise Authority, trained by Spankys Barn and ridden to victory by I Ortiz Jr, is a five-year-old gelding by Pure Authority, and is out of One Big Surprise. He was bred in Florida by Tiratzo as a second quarter two-year-old, and was acquired by Spankys Barn in September 2020 with a $14.000 claim in his second career race. Congratulations to the connections! He’s now won six times in 24 starts, with two stakes wins, and this is his first graded win. His career earnings are now $584.560.
Time: :23 :462 1:10 1:34
$2 Mutuel Prices:
$1 Exacta: 4 – 2 Paid 1,582.70
$1 Trifecta: 4 – 2 – 10 Paid 1,504.50
Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES