Hembree finished the center of the track to register a neck victory over Mr Cub in Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Hembree’s final time of 1:27.06 for 7 1/2 furlongs over the firm turf course was a new track record.
Hembree had to survive a claim of foul by Manny Cruz, the rider of fifth-place finisher Krampus, who steadied sharply while rallying in late stretch. A subsequent claim of foul lodged by Bill Mott, the trainer of Krampus, against Mr Cub was allowed by the stewards, with the original runner-up dropped down to fifth position as a result of the disqualification.
Hembree, winner of the Grade 2 Nearctic at Woodbine in October, lagged well off a lively early pace, swung six wide while still near the rear of the field turning for home, then flew through the stretch to overtake Mr Cub nearing the wire. The latter, bottled up in traffic during much of the early going, split rivals while rallying through the stretch, drifted steadily to cut off Krampus inside the sixteenth marker, and proved no match for the winner at the end.
Uncle B, who prompted the fast pace, inherited the lead and shook clear in early stretch but weakened late near the inside to finish another three parts of a length farther back. He was ultimately elevated to second, with Cowboy Culture moved up from fourth to third place in the official order of finish.
Hembree, a 5-year-old son of Proud Citizen, is owned by Three Diamonds Farm and trained by Mike Maker. He was ridden to victory by Irad Ortiz Jr. He returned $7.