jumped out of the gate on top from the one post under
jockey Joel Rosario in Tuesday’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes Tuesday
at Gulfstream Park, and the 6-to-5 co-favorite turned back several
challenges in the six-furlong event before edging away to score by
three-quarters of a length over 50-to-1 longshot City of Weston.
Owned by a partnership of Bruce Chandler, Robert McKee, James Glavin
and trainer Bob Hess, Jr., Merit Man was making his first start since a
heart-breaking nose defeat at the hands of Hightail in the $500,000
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita Nov. 2.
"That was a lot of fun,” said Hess. “He broke so sharp he (jockey
Joel Rosario) really had to go on with him. We love Santa Anita, but for
him the series of races for 3-year-olds is better here. We’ll look to
run him again in about a month. The ($150,000) Hutcheson (Stakes (G2) at
seven furlongs on Feb. 2) looks like the logical spot. Everything about
him says sprinting and that’s what we’ll concentrate on for now.”
“He's a nice horse and broke well out of the gate,” said Rosario.
“He waited a little bit turning for home, but that's how he is. I think
he's a nice horse and I know how far he can run, probably seven-eighths.
I'm very glad I had the opportunity to ride him."
Merit Man is a Florida-bred by With Distinction purchased for
$75,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old sales. He had won both of his starts
prior to the Breeders’ Cup, his debut at Del Mar on Sept. 2 and the Tim
Conway Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 6.
Merit Man paid $$4.40 for $2 to win and was timed the six furlongs
in 1:11:39 over the ‘fast’ track. Silverton Hill Farm LLC’s Little
Distorted, co-favorite at 6-to-5 with the winner, rallied from last of
five finished a non-threatening third, 4 ½ lengths behind the runner-up.