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Feb 08, 2008

Spring At Last blossoms in Donn Handicap


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Spring At Last, making his 2008 debut, recorded his first North American stakes victory in Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.35 on a fast track.

Spring At Last was ridden by Eibar Coa from post two in the eight-horse field. Setting the pace in the Donn was the 4-5 favorite Daaher with Kiss the Kid pressing the pace and Spring At Last running in third.

Coming off the turn for home Spring At Last powered to the lead and was ahead by more than a length at the top of the stretch. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Spring At Last held on for a half-length win over the late running A. P. Arrow.

Finishing third was Kiss the Kid followed by Brass Hat, Fairbanks, Einstein, Daaher and Dr. Googles Boogles. Wood Be Willing was a scratch.

"We were so excited because he had been training really, really well," O'Neill said from California. "He had always shown us he was versatile and obviously Eibar rode a great race. We all needed to see (that performance) before he stamped himself a classic distance horse. We don't know which race (Mile or World Cup) in Dubai we want right now. We'll talk it over with the owners, decide a strategy and play it by ear."

Spring At Last is owned by J. Paul Reddam and WinStar Farm. Saturday's win was worth $300,000. The five-year-old has won five of 12 lifetime starts for more than $1.1 million.

The Donn is the third straight win for Spring At Last who was coming off an allowance race victory in December. He had not raced since March when he won the Godolphin Mile in Dubai.

Spring At Last returned $14.00, $5.40 and $4.80. A. P. Arrow paid $4.40 and $3.80, and Kiss the Kid paid $13.00 to show.

Earlier in the day, Eaton's Gift captured the $150,000 Swale Stakes for three-year-olds. The colt took the lead shortly after the start and had no problem on his way to a 3 1/2 length victory.

Eaton's Gift was ridden by Kent Desormeaux for Zayat Stables and trainer Dale Romans. The time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:15.63.

Finishing second was Surrealdeal followed by Wincat, Silver Edition, Mr. Foz, Coal Play and St. Joe.

Eaton's Gift paid $9.60, $5.00 and $3.40. Surrealdeal returned $24.80 and $6.20, and Wincat paid $2.80 to show.

Eaton's Gift pocketed $90,000 with the Swale victory to bring his earnings to $153,716. In his last start in December the colt was seventh in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.

"He's a fast horse and from the two post we pretty much had to go (lead)," said Romans. "There were several factors in his last race. We had to ship and didn't really have a lot of time to train for two turns like would we would if the race was back home. Actually, his race wasn't that bad. I'm not sure what's next. When you have a fast 3-year-old at this time of the year, you always think about stretching them out. We'll talk to Mr. Zayat and then come up with a plan."

Romans won the Swale two years ago with Sharp Humor.

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