Reef Runner Bests Unlucky Valiant Force at Gulfstream

Reef Runner | Lauren King

8th-Gulfstream, $86,940, Alw (NW1X), Opt. Clm ($75,000), 2-7, 3yo, 5fT, :54.64, fm, 3/4 length.
REEF RUNNER (c, 3, The Big Beast–Paradise Bay, by Blame) was making his first start on the turf as the 15.90-1 longest shot in a field of seven and outsprinted a luckless 3-5 Valiant Force (Malibu Moon) to upset that one's seasonal debut. Ridden along from fourth by Paco Lopez, with the hot favorite underneath him, the Lieblong homebred was sent along three wide on the turn and had dead aim on pacesetting Esperon (Chitu) as they hit the top of the lane. Racing on his incorrect lead, Reef Runner nevertheless hit the front with time ticking away and went on to score by thee-parts of a length. While the winner had a clear run throughout, the same cannot be said for Valiant Force. Winner of the G2 Norfolk S. at 150-1 and runner-up in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint when last seen in November, the AMO Racing runner was shuffled back nearing the turn and just when it looked possible that he might get off the inside, he was kept in by Mackville (Speightster) with 2 1/2 furlongs to race. Valiant Force finally found daylight five wide off the home corner and he kicked on nicely, but had too much to overcome and settled for second. Valiant Force covered his final eighth of a mile in a race-fastest :10.94 per DRF Formulator. The winner's dam, a half-sister to dual Grade I-winning 'TDN Rising Star' Paradise Woods (Union Rags) and SW Forest Chatter (Dixie Chatter), produced a Street Sense filly in 2023. Lifetime Record: 5-2-1-1, $103,180. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.
O/B-Alex & JoAnn Lieblong (FL); T-David Fawkes.


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