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Jan 14, 2011

Soaring Empire captures Hal's Hope


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Soaring Empire, ridden by Jose Lezcano, pressed the pace and went on to win Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The four-year-old colt covered the mile in 1:35.99.

Trained by Cam Gambolati, Soaring Empire was never far behind pacesetter Morning Line in the one-turn event. Lezcano had his mount move up on the final turn and took the lead away from Morning Line at the top of the stretch.

Soaring Empire, the 2-1 second choice, registered a 1 1/4-length win. Finishing second in the six horse field was Rule followed by even-money favorite Morning Line, Tackleberry, Dream Maestro and Caixa Eletronica.

Hear Ye Hear Ye was an early scratch.

Soaring Empire, owned by Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock, notched his fourth win in nine career starts. The Hal's Hope victory was worth $60,000 giving the colt $189,726 overall.

"Everybody thought, with his pedigree, that he'd be a two-turn horse. I'm not saying he's not a two-turn horse, but I don't think it's his best race. I think he's a chute horse," Gambolati said. "That's what he wants - to make that one run, that's what he has in him, one good run."

As a three-year-old, Soaring Empire was eighth in the Florida Derby when he was 14-lengths behind Ice Box.

"He was a fool in the paddock," the trainer noted about the colt's Florida Derby. "He acted up and reared in the gate. Before the gate, he reared up and grabbed a quarter and dropped the rider. He was a total fool, and then he got wiped out - not that he was going to win it.

"He's just a quirky kind of horse. He's difficult, but it's one of those things. When a horse is talented like that, you pull your hair out, but I guess you have more patience with a horse like this."

He came back to be fourth in the Dwyer, third in the Pegasus and win the Rutgers Stakes at Monmouth Park. In November the colt was sixth to Jersey Town in the Cigar Mile.

"He's had some physical problems, nothing serious, just discomfort and everything," Gambolati said. "That's why his races were spotty through the summer. He had an abscess when he finished third to Afleet Express. We took our time to clear that up, and then he ran a great three-quarters of a mile. It's been a long time since I've seen a horse close from that far back, especially at Monmouth."

Soaring Empire returned $6.00, $3.20 and $2.10. Rule paid $3.60 and $2.20, and Morning Line paid $2.10 to show.

Quality Road won last year's Hal's Hope on his way to capturing the Donn Handicap.

An hour earlier, Determinato won the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes to begin his three-year-old season. The colt was sent off as a 14-1 longshot in the eight horse field.

Setting the pace in the six-furlong stakes was Gangsterontherun followed closely by Wildcat Formation, Determinato and War for Gus.

Entering the far turn Determinato moved into second behind Gangsterontherun and quickly drew even. Jockey Eibar Coa moved Determinato to the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off to a 1 1/4-length win.

Leave of Absence rallied to finish second followed by Cane Garden Bay, Gangsterontherun, War for Gus, Winchill, Dual Exhauzt and Wildcat Formation.

The time for the Spectacular Bid was 1:11.13 on a fast track.

Trained by Larry Pilotti, Determinato is owned by Ron Marano and recorded his second career win in six starts. Saturday's victory was worth $60,000 to bring the colt's earnings to $102,525.

Determinato paid $30.60, $9.20 and $6.60. Leave of Absence returned $3.80 and $3.00, and Cane Garden Bay paid $3.60 to show.

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