Performer started off the new year with a determined victory in Saturday's $125,000 Fred W. Hooper S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park, holding off a stiff challenge from Eye of a Jedi to win the one-mile contest by a neck.
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The 5-year-old son of Speightstown is is the second graded stakes winner of the week for his sire, coming just two days after Switzerland won the Dubawi S. (G1) at Meydan Racecourse is the UAE.
Third in the Dec. 5 Cigar Mile (G1) in his most recent outing, Performer broke from the rail in the field of eight. He settled in behind horses, about three lengths from the front as the field made its way up the backstretch. Jockey Joel Rosario took Performer off the rail as the entered the turn and came four-wide into the stretch as he and Eye of a Jedi hooked up for a thrilling stretch run. The two raced together the rest of the way, with Performer getting the better of his foe.
The final time was 1:35.49 on a fast track.
“He broke well and it really looked like [Shivaree] was going to take the lead and the other horse on the outside, so I kind of just let him be in that spot,” said Rosario. “I didn’t want to fall too far back but be there in the race, because he broke good and he got the job done. He’s a nice horse.”
Trained by Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable (also his breeder) and Claiborne Farm, Performer has won six of eight starts and earned $400,675.
“That’s way was in my mind, the Gulfstream Mile [Feb. 27], but after watching him today, I might be looking for something to stretch him out around two turns,” said McGaughey when asked about Performer's next outing.