HALLANDALE BEACH - Mexican star filly Jala Jala made history Saturday at Gulfstream Park, saving ground early before drawing off to an impressive 4 ¾-length triumph in the $100,000 Copa Confraternidad del Caribe. The victory, coupled with her nine-length romp in the Clasico del Caribe last December, made Cuadra San Jorge’s Jala Jala ($4.40) the first filly ever to sweep the Clasico Internacional del Caribe’s premier races for 3-year-olds and older horses, beating males both times.
The 1 ¼-mile Copa Confraternidad was the fourth of five stakes, worth more than $700,000 in purses, as part of the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, Latin America and the Caribbean’s premier thoroughbred event hosted by Gulfstream for the second consecutive year.
Last year, Gulfstream became the first pari-mutuel facility outside Latin America or the Caribbean to host the Clasico Internacional del Caribe since its inception in 1966. Jala Jala is the second straight horse to win both the Clasico and Confraternidad in successive years, following Panamanian colt El Tigre Mono in 2016 and 2017.
It was the second Clasico win of the day for Puerto Rican jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., following Michegas’ runaway victory in the Copa Invitacional three races earlier. The winning time was 2:08.46 over a fast track.
Ortiz settled Jala Jala in fifth along the rail as Bold Master posted early fractions of 24.38 and 49.95, pressed by fellow Puerto Rican contender Exclusivo, a multiple group stakes-winner with 15 wins from 17 career starts. Exclusivo cruised past leaving the backstretch after going six furlongs in 1:15.08, but Jala Jala was creeping up the inside and into contention.
Tipped to the outside by Ortiz once clear of 2017 Clasico del Caribe runner-up Fray Angelico on the turn, Jala Jala met no resistance as she assumed the lead and straightened for home in front, pulling clear under a hand ride. Fray Angelico was a decisive second, 10 lengths ahead of Exclusivo. Puerto Rican Triple Crown winner Justiciero was fourth.
Michegas, Ortiz Jr. Win for Puerto Rico in Copa Invitacional
Michegas, representing Puerto Rico, put on a show in the $77,500 Copa Invitacional, kicking off Saturday’s program with a 10 ¼-length romp in the 1 ¼-mile race for 3-year-olds and up. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Michegas was the 1-5 favorite in a field reduced to five starters by the early scratches of defending champion Coltimus Prime from Panama and morning-line favorite California Music of Panama.
Trained by Jose Velez for owner Oscar D. Establo, Michegas ran 1 ¼ miles in 2:07.05 to post his 11th victory in 31 starts, sparking an enthusiastic celebration at the winner’s circle by the Puerto Rico fans.
Brigantia Heads Panamanian Exacta in Copa Dama del Gama
Owned and trained by Alberto ‘Droopy’ Paz Rodriguez, a Panamanian legend with more than 6,400 career wins, Brigantia put away Mexican filly Triple Crown winner Kutzamala at the top of the stretch and held on for a 1 ½-length win in the Copa Dama del Caribe for 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Luis Saez, a native of Panama and graduate of its jockey school, Brigantia ($15.40) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:49.91 to top a Panamanian exacta with runner-up Rosa Salvaje, who edged Mexico’s Etruska for by a neck. It was three lengths to Kutzamala in fourth.
Kutzamala, favored at 7-5 in a field of nine, lost for the second straight time after sweeping three Group 1 races in Mexico for trainer Fausto Gutierrez. The Point Determined filly was in front through fractions of 24.90 and 49.37 seconds, pressed by 30-1 long shot Visionaria. Saez and Brigantia ranged up next to Kutzamala midway around the turn, surged past and straightened for home in command, avoiding free-running Salmiana, who lost rider Manny Cruz after bobbling badly out of the gate.
“I’m crying because my wife isn’t here and I cry because of this win. Any win is a big win, I’m just so happy,” Rodriguez said. “I’m surrounded by family and friends today.”
Venezuela’s Big Boris One Takes Copa Velocidad del Caribe
Big Boris One, who was victorious in his two career starts in Venezuela, remained undefeated with a triumph in the $105,000 Copa Velocidad del Caribe. The 3-year-old colt, trained by Juan Carlos Avila, pressed the pace set by Mexico’s Tati along the backstretch before taking the lead on the turn and holding off a late run from Mexico’s Magno by three quarters of a length.
Big Boris One ran six furlongs in 1:13.66 under Paco Lopez to prevail in his stakes debut. Magno finished two lengths ahead of late-closing Puerto Rico’s Don William R.