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Gayego Returns in Triple Bend

After wilting in a New York heat wave earlier in the week, Gayego was happy to adapt to the cooler weather at Hollywood Park for the $250,000 Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs Saturday.

“It’s great!” said Rick Mettee, United States assistant for Godolphin Racing, of the weather during a cool drizzly morning. “Everyone here is complaining, but this is beautiful. His color looks better here in 36 hours. He looks brighter.”

Gayego, stabled at Belmont Park where the thermometer hovered around 100 degrees at the beginning of the week, left Long Island Tuesday morning and arrived here around 3 p.m. that day after stops in Kentucky and Ontario airport.

“He had yesterday off and cantered this morning,” said Mettee. “I was happy. He warmed up very well and grabbed the track really good. He’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”

The Triple Bend is a homecoming of sorts for Gayego, a 5-year-old horse who is unbeaten in two starts on this track. He broke his maiden here at first asking in November, 2007, and won again in November, 2008, for trainer Paulo Lobo before being sold privately to Godolphin at the start of 2009.

Winner of the Arkansas Derby in 2008, Gayego returned to California last autumn to win the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita and finish fourth in a four-way photo finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint there. He was shipped to Dubai for the second straight winter and finished eighth in the Golden Shaheen Stakes in his last start March 27.

Gayego will leave from post four in a field of eight under high weight of 122 pounds for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockey Rafael Bejarano. He has won seven of 16 starts and earned $1,459,620.

The Triple Bend will go as the sixth race. Post time is approximately 3:35 p.m.



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