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Starting Over, R Calli Kim Take Marathon Turf Stakes

R Calli Kim rallies to win the $150,000 The Very One Stakes (G3T).

Starting Over rallies to victory in the Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Starting Over rallies to victory in the Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos

Nice Guys Stables' Starting Over did just that in 2023, joining the stable of Mike Maker, a trainer often successful with older turf horses, particularly at marathon distances.

The gelding notched his first stakes win in 2023 under Maker when he took the 1 1/2-mile Colonial Cup Stakes last summer at Colonial Downs, and March 2 at Gulfstream Park, he took a more prestigious prize: the $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T) going 1 3/8 miles.

The victory, in which the 7-year-old ran down Tawny Port late to win by a neck, resulted in his initial graded stakes victory.

Maker won the Mac Diarmida for the fifth time in the past six years.

In the rear of the pack early as a stretching-out Main Event set legitimate fractions of :23.70, :48.75, and 1:14, Starting Over swung into gear on the second turn and after angling out wide into the lane, powered past a cluster of rivals in the closing strides. He hit the wire with a final time of 2:12.29 under Edgard Zayas.

Previously runner-up in the William L. McKnight Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Jan. 27, he paid $24 to win.

Anglophile rallied between horses to grab third, edging a wide-racing Kingmax in fourth and a weakening Main Event in fifth. 

"I thought, looking at the program, he would have been a little bit closer, but when I dropped the reins and he dropped back, he was really relaxed," Zayas said. "I think going these long distance races, it's about who relaxes the horse better, and if he's not fighting the whole way."

  • Starting Over, a gray or roan bred by George Strawbridge Jr., is by Liam's Map  out of the stakes-placed Lemon Drop Kid mare Vanishing. He is one of three stakes winners this year for his sire, who stands for $40,000 at Lane's End Farm.


R Calli Kim Rolls

Later on the card, another late-running 7-year-old—R Calli Kim—flourished over the same 1 3/8-mile trip on grass, winning the $150,000 The Very One Stakes (G3T) for fillies and mares.

R Calli Kim wins the 2024 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
R Calli Kim wins the $150,000 The Very One Stakes

Cut loose and sent to the outside at the head of the stretch by jockey Tyler Gaffalione, she inhaled rivals with her customary closing punch to score going away by two lengths. The heavy favorite was clocked in 2:13.01. She returned $4.40 to win.

Anatolian finished second ahead of Cairo Consort in third. 

Brendan Walsh trains R Calli Kim for owners Two Eight Racing and Averill Racing. Rich Averill of Averill Racing bought the filly for $9,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the consignment of her breeder, Upson Downs Farm.

"She's a very good mare," Walsh said. "She's shown it time and time again."