In a potentially informative entry-level allowance for three-year-olds, Darley Stable's CROSSBOW (Bernardini) outdueled a stubborn Sovereign Default (Northern Afleet) in Saturday's 5TH race at Gulfstream Park. The two impressive maiden winners dominated in the wagering as well, with Crossbow the slight even-money favorite over the 6-5 Sovereign Default, and the margin of victory on the track wasn't that much larger.
Crossbow had a recency advantage, having scored by three lengths in front-running fashion at Aqueduct on January 2. In contrast, Sovereign Default hadn't raced since his successful debut at Belmont Park on July 15.
Sovereign Default grabbed a slim early lead from the rail, but Crossbow was already lapped onto him, and the stage was set for a protracted battle. The two alternated for the lead through fractions of :23 and :45 2/5, by which time Chateau D' Kim (Yes It's True) moved up between them. His attempt to break up the match race was short-lived, for he could not go on with the top two.
Crossbow, who appeared to be traveling more easily than Sovereign Default turning for home, began to inch clear at the six-furlong mark in 1:09 2/5. Sovereign Default was all heart on the inside, however, and he kept fighting back. For his part, Crossbow kept responding. Never relinquishing his hard-won advantage in the stretch, Crossbow finally pulled away by three-quarters of a length.
With John Velazquez aboard, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee completed seven furlongs in 1:22 4/5 on the fast track, paying $4.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Sovereign Default crossed the wire a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths in a commendable effort. Chateau D' Kim garnered third in the scratch-reduced field of five.
Crossbow boosted his bankroll to $55,000 from his 3-2-0-1 record. The bay was burned up in a pace duel in his debut at Aqueduct on November 27, where he tired to third. He rebounded in style last time out on the inner track, and in the process, earned his way to the higher-profile Florida division.
Originally part of the Stonerside Stable bloodstock purchased by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley, the Kentucky-bred is out of multiple Grade 3 heroine Forest Heiress (Forest Wildcat). She is also responsible for the Canadian stakes-placed Forest Prince (Mineshaft) and a pair of youngsters by Street Cry (Ire), a juvenile filly named Sylvan Song and a yearling filly. Forest Heiress is herself a full sister to Grade 1 star and up-and-coming young sire Wildcat Heir as well as multiple stakes scorer Forest Heir.
Crossbow hails from the family of Preakness S. (G1) hero Louis Quatorze (Sovereign Dancer), current Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) winner Awesome Gem (Awesome Again) and multiple Grade 2 queen J J'sdream (Glitterman). Further back, Crossbow's fifth dam is Stavroula (*Nasrullah), a full sister to Hall of Famer and noted sire Nashua.