An overnight south Florida deluge forced the Miami Mile Handicap from the Calder Casino & Race Course turf to the main track on Saturday, allowing Jessica Colon’s Imperial Czar to draw in from the also-eligible list before drawing off to a three-quarter length victory, covering the mile in 1:39.86 over a track officially listed as ‘sloppy.’
“The race went just like I anticipated it would,” winning jockey Jesus Rios said. “There was a lot of speed and I wanted to sit off it; not too far back, but far enough that when I asked him he would just go on. And he did. He loved the track, and he just went on when I asked.”
After biding his time in fourth while tracking crisp splits of :23.25 and :46.93, Rios began his charge to the front as the field moved through the final turn, passing rivals rather effortlessly before pulling alongside pacesetting Ducduc in mid-stretch and setting aside that rival with similar ease.
Imperial Czar held steady through the wire, and was never truly threatened in the final yards while holding off the tardy charge of Numb Lips.
“It’s the jockey,” trainer Saul Matos exulted after the win. “In Puerto Rico, I won over 125 races with him. And all of my stakes races that I won in Puerto Rico were with this jockey. I have very good luck with him. I just put him on the horse and tell him to do whatever he wants. I have nothing but confidence in him.”
Overlooked a bit by the wagering public, Imperial Czar returned $19.80, $10.80, and $6.00 for the win. Numb Lips paid $7.80 and $4.80 for second, while a resolute Ducduc hung on for third, returning $5.80.
Completing the order of finish was Yummy With Butter, Decisive Moment, Tannersville, It’s Never to Late, and Sette E Mezzo.
With his victory in the Miami Mile, Imperial Czar improved his career record to eight wins from 28 starts while boosting his lifetime bankroll to $269,786. The 4-year-old colt was bred in Florida by R.C. Van Voorhees and Elizabeth A. Steinbach.