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Gervinho Flies Home in Zuma Beach

California-bred Gervinho, who lost his footing momentarily approaching the quarter pole, launched a furious stretch rally under Rafael Bejarano to take the inaugural $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes by one-half length, getting the one mile on turf in 1:34.59 and projecting himself as a likely starter in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (mile) Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

A $49,000 Barretts October yearling purchase a year ago, Gervinho was dispatched as the even-money favorite and he validated his first-out maiden special weight win at Del Mar on Sept. 3 by stretching out to defeat a five rivals in his first try on turf.

Owned by California Horse Racing Board Chairman Keith Brackpool and trained by Carla Gaines, Gervinho, as the son of Unusual Heat was shuffled near the back of the pack as he approached the quarter pole.

“I thought he was going to go down,” said Bejarano. “He slipped and it threw me sideways, but he gave me a great kick through the stretch.”

Gervinho, named by Brackpool for the Ivorian soccer player who plays for Arsenal, Brackpool’s favorite soccer club in England, blew by Den’s Legacy and Garrett Gomez, who had stalked splits of 23.11, 46.62, 1:10.81 and 1:22.62 prior to taking the lead past the eighth-pole.

“We’re going to seriously look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf,” said Brackpool following the Zuma Beach, which was run as the third race. “That was quite a (stretch) kick.”

Brackpool also noted that today’s win had sentimental value.

“The win was extra special for me today as it is my father’s 78th birthday. He (Brian Brackpool) got me interested in this sport and we have shared many great memories together. This just adds to the list of great memories. Horse racing does that!”

With the Zuma Beach winner’s share of $60,000, Gervinho’s bankroll swelled to $102,000 as he remained unbeaten in his second start.

The winner paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.20.

Den’s Legacy, who was a well beaten fifth in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes on Sept. 29, did everything but hold off the winner, and finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of the pace-setting third-place finisher Dancin Upside Down, who was ridden by Juan Hernandez.

Den’s Legacy paid $3.40 and $3.00. Dancin Upside Down returned $4.20 to show.


 

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