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Caramel Swirl Wins Gallant Bloom on a Double DQ

Heavily favored Caramel Swirl  was beginning to make her winning move in the final sixteenth of the Oct.1 Gallant Bloom Stakes (G2) before being forced to check sharply and sudden victory swiftly turned into inevitable defeat.

In a decision that took seventeen minutes from NYRA stewards at Belmont at the Big A, Sterling Silver  and Headland , the first and second-place horses across the finish line, were taken down and Caramel Swirl was declared the winner of the $250,000 Gallant Bloom.

“Justice was served there. We were the meat of the sandwich in the stretch with nowhere to go,” said Michael Banahan, the Director of Bloodstock for Godolphin, the owner of Carmel Swirl. “Horses came out and in and put us in a bad spot. I think if she got through, she was going to win the race. Glad to get another win for the mare, she deserved that.”

Caramel Swirl netted her third graded stakes win on Sunday and her second of the year after capturing the Vagrancy Stakes (G3) in May. Trained by Bill Mott, the 5-year-old daughter of Union Rags  was exiting a fourth-place effort in the most heated showdown of the female sprinter division in the Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.

After breaking alertly in the Gallant Bloom, jockey Junior Alvarado was in no rush with Caramel Swirl early as the pair trailed the field through fractions of :22.63 and :45.93. Headland, the pace controller throughout, attempted to commit the robbery on the front end into the stretch, heeding a length advantage before Caramel Swirl and Benguine launched bold bids with a furlong to run. Sterling Silver, widest of all into the lane, powered up to the fray, coming in on Caramel Swirl the exact moment Headland lugged into the Godolphin filly, forcing Alvarado to snatch up the filly sharply in order to avoid catastrophe.

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“I was coming with Javier (Castellano, aboard Sterling Silver) and he got the jump on me, so he was probably half-length in front of me and then he started coming down, coming down, coming down once Jose Lezcano (aboard Headland) came out, too. Then they both got me really good there,” said Alvarado.

“I was expecting it to be a little tight because you’re right defending your race, but it went beyond that.”

Sterling Silver drew away by four lengths with Headland besting Caramel Swirl, who gamely re-rallied in the final yards before the wire, by a half-length for second. The final time was 1:16.18 for the six-and-a-half furlongs on a fast main track.

“I had much the best horse,” said a frustrated Castellano after the race. “It’s unfair to disqualify the horse. If you want to punish me, I get punished, but don’t disqualify the horse. Don’t punish the bettor, the owner, the connections. I think that was the wrong decision.”

Caramel Swirl, a Godolphin homebred is by Lane’s End stallion Union Rags. In addition to Caramel Swirl, Union Rags, a son of Dixie Union, has produced four other stakes winners this year in North America. He stood the 2023 breeding season for a fee of $30,000.

Video: Gallant Bloom S. (G2)

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