Hats Off to Gemswick Park
Old Hat was a phenomenal race horse during her time on the track. She became a household name, and in 1964 and 1965 she was crowned the American Champion Older Female Horse. In the six years she spent as a race horse, Old Hat won thirty-five of her eighty career starts and placed eighteen times. It is for her outstanding performances and the highly regarded legacy she left behind that the Old Hat Stakes was named in her honor.
In 2007, the Old Hat Stakes was upgraded to a Grade II event, which is run over six furlongs, has a purse of $100 000 and is a racing event for three year old fillies. Most trainers enter their horses into the Old Hat Stakes as a preparation race for the Kentucky Oaks. The seven competitors entered for this year’s event, hosted by the Gulfstream Park Racecourse on the 4th of January 2009, were nothing short of spectacular.
There was to be no easy win at Gulfstream Park Racecourse on Sunday, as the race was closely run on a very fast track. John Velazquez was in the jockey seat for Gemswick Park as the starting gates swung open and a very fast Elusive Heat took the lead. It was not the first time he had backed the talented filly and had confidence in her that she would perform well. The tension in the grandstand was running high as Gemswick Park, Elusive Heat and Frolic’s Dream battled for the leading position. Close on the heels of the leading competitors was the remainder of the field, keeping the pressure on the leaders at all times. Gemswick Park managed to edge herself into the lead, but the two unbeaten fillies were not willing to give up easily. Even though it seemed as if Frolic’s Dream was running into trouble, she regained momentum and came barreling back to fight to the bitter end. It was one of the closest finishes ever seen, but the photo finish confirmed that Gemswick Park had won the Old Hat Stakes by a nose, with Elusive Heat and Frolic’s Dream finishing in second and third place respectively, followed by Casanova Move, Honchis’n Ponchis, Sweet Repent and Redreamit.
After the race, Velazquez commented, “I couldn’t ask for more. I felt a little pressure but, like I said, she responded at the three-sixteenths and we were able to finish. Once we got going I didn’t have any problems. This horse has a bright future ahead.” Trainer Tom Albertrani also expressed his satisfaction in regard to the victory, but said that it was uncertain where her next start will be.