HALLANDALE BEACH – Shadybrook Farm’s Cajun Firecracker upset heavily favored Fully Loaded in Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes. Trainer Michael Yates’ homebred colt scored at odds of 7-1, a small price compared to the odds that were stacked against a successful stallion career for his sire, Cajun Breeze.
A tough-as-nails warrior who amassed earnings of nearly $250,000 prior to his 2015 retirement, Cajun Breeze never won a stakes during his 32-race career. But he became a stakes-winning sire Saturday when his son crossed the finish line a neck ahead of the 3-5 favorite in the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.
Yates, who campaigned Cajun Breeze, took a chance at giving the son of Congrats a career at stud, sending him to Stonehedge Farm South in Williston and breeding many of his mares to him, including Clara Bow, Cajun Firecracker's dam.
“We owned the mare – she ran a little up the east coast – she’s a pretty mare. She had some talent but had some issues as a race horse so we just bred her,” Yates said.
Cajun Firecracker's only experience was a two-length triumph in an April 13 maiden special weight race at Gulfstream. He stalked the pace set by Jackson, who was pressed by Fully Loaded along the backstretch. then began advancing on the far turn. Fully Loaded took over the lead under Edgard Zayas leaving the turn and into the stretch as his pacesetting stablemate Jackson tired, and the colt by Two Step Salsa appeared to be on his way to his third victory in three starts. However, Cajun Firecracker kicked in through the stretch under Miguel Vasquez and wore down the tiring favorite, who drifted out into the Yates homebred nearing the finish.
“I thought we would stalk the speed because she was on the outside," Yates said. "I was thankful to be outside of it because [Fully Loaded] is a pretty good horse.” The racing gods were with us today.”
Before the race became official, Cajun Firecracker had to survive a foul claim by Tyler Gaffalione, who finished a fast-closing third aboard Garter and Tie. Although Cajun Firecracker drifted into the path of Garter and Tie, the stewards determined that Fully Loaded had initiated the incident and disqualified the favorite and placed him third.
Cajun Firecracker ran six furlongs in 1:09.94, after fractions of 22:08, 44.80 and 56.96.
The next leg of the Florida Sires Stakes is set for Sept. 1, when the $200,000 Affirmed and the $200,000 Susan’s Girl for fillies will be contested at seven furlongs.
Note: Total handle on Gulfstream’s Sire Stakes program was $9.576 million, a 13-percent increase over last year’s handle of $8.433. Handle on the opening day of the Sire Stakes has risen each of the last four years after $6.244 million was wagered in 2015.