Speed Franco prevails in Dania Beach photo finish

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Untamed Domain was a decisive favorite in the Dania Beach Stakes, but the one-mile turf race quickly boiled down to two horses -- and he wasn't one of them.

Instead, Speed Franco took the length of the stretch to reel in front-running Gidu in a photo finish while Untamed Domain had to settle for the best view when finishing another 2 3/4 lengths back in third in a field of nine 3-year-olds Saturday in the 10th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park.

Speed Franco, ridden by Emisael Jaramillo for Grupo 7C Racing Stable and trainer Gustavo Delgado, returned $10.80 as third choice after prevailing by a head over Gidu, the 2-1 second choice. The winning time was 1:36.28 over firm going.

Untamed Domain, the 6-5 favorite under Jose Ortiz, was making his first start since finishing second to Mendelssohn in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf three months ago. The West Point Thoroughbreds color-bearer was actually using the Dania Beach to prepare for a subsequent move to the Kentucky Derby trail, so assuming the plan continues, the colt's next start will mark his dirt debut in either the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby or the March 24 Louisiana Derby.

"We're not going to get all keyed up about this one race," trainer Graham Motion said afterward.

Speed Franco, a Kentucky-bred colt by Declaration of War, has finished first in three of four starts, all coming over the Gulfstream turf. His most notable prior effort resulted in a six-length triumph in the ungraded Pulpit in December. Speed Franco was disqualified from first to second in his September debut for interference during the stretch run. In the Kitten's Joy last month, he was sixth, beaten only a length by the winner in a bunched-up finish.

"His last race, I didn't like, he was back," said Delgado. "I told the jockey, 'No more, no more, you put the horse in front or second.'"

The top two can be expected back for the next local race in the division, the Grade 3 Palm Beach on March 3.

The $2 exacta (1-7) paid $40, the $1 trifecta (1-7-6) returned $50.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-7-6-9) was worth $18.40.