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Mai Tai's Gem shines in Indiana Futurity

Mai Tai’s Gem cruised to victory in the 20th running of the $100,000 Indiana Futurity on Tuesday at Indiana Grand.

- STAFF REPORT

Just like his mother, Mai Tai’s Gem is now a stakes winner. The two-year-old cruised to victory in the 20th running of the $100,000 Indiana Futurity on Tuesday at Indiana Grand.

Mai Tai’s Gem and DeShawn Parker left the gate with intentions of being on the lead. They were joined by Chipofftheoldblock and Jon Court with Maters N Taters and Eddie Perez sitting three wide during the first half of the race. The trio of horses moved in unison down the backside and heading into the turn, it was just down to Mai Tai’s Gem and Chipofftheoldblock.

In the stretch, Mai Tai’s Gem began to shake off the early contenders and got a good jump on the late closers as Strong Tide and Rodney Prescott began to close in from the back along with Two Last Words and Jose Riquelme. At the end of the one mile 70-yard stakes, it was Mai Tai’s Gem looking strong under the wire for the win by one and one-quarter lengths over Strong Tide. Two Last Words rounded out the top three in the race time of 1:43.41.

“My horse (Mai Tai’s Gem) was actually relaxed,” said Parker regarding the early chase for the lead. “His ears were pricked, and he was moving real easy. Jon (Court) was trying to get his horse to relax too and once he did, both of the horses relaxed in the early part of the race.”

Owned and bred by Rancho Monarca, which is owned by Katie and Tony Duran, Mai Tai’s Gem increased his career bankroll to nearly $90,000 to polish off his freshman year. He has some strong genes as his mother, Lil Mai Tai, was a multiple stakes winner in Indiana during her racing career and has passed her speed on to several of her colts. But, the win with Mai Tai’s Gem is special in many ways to the Duran Stable.

“This is the first stakes race we have won with our own horse,” said Katie Duran, who is an attorney in Indianapolis. “And this horse has such a story. His mother (Lil Mai Tai) died about a month after he was born, so he was raised by a nurse mare. Tony (Duran) thought all along this was a nice colt but you can’t tell. It’s hard to know what will happen.”

Mai Tai’s Gem came into the race off two career starts, winning his first outing in August and later finishing second in the $100,000 Hillsdale Stakes. But the Gemologist freshman was primed and ready for his final start of his two-year-old season as he bided his time before taking over in the stretch.

“This colt (Mai Tai’s Gem) was late maturing but that was really the plan to wait until the last part of the meet to keep him for these stakes,” explained Duran, who owns a farm with his wife, Katie, just north of Shelbyville, Ind. “He is a real smart colt and he never wastes his time. He does his job and he goes in his stall and sleeps. I really think he will make a nice three-year-old.”

Duran plans to take him to their farm in Florida for the winter and get him ready for the meet at Indiana Grand next spring.

“He’ll go with us to Florida and get some time off and turned out,” added Duran. “We will start bringing him back around January or February, but there is no rush. We’ll give him time.”