Sunday, February 5, 2023
Been off since July 2 Dwyer . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Whisper Hill Farm’s Charge It is scheduled to make his long-awaited return to action in today’s Race 8 feature, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park.

    The 4-year-old son of Tapit has been away from the races since he rolled to a 23-length victory in the July 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park that left racing fans wanting to see much more of the abundantly- talented colt.

    The wait is over. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Charge It is scheduled to meet six rivals in his comeback in the $87,000 feature.

    “He’s doing really well. He’s come back and trained the way you’d expect him to,” Pletcher said. “We’re happy to have him back and to get the season underway."

    Charge It graduated by 8 ½ lengths at Gulfstream in his second career start last February before overcoming a starting gate issue to finish second behind White Abarrio in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby in April. The Pletcher trainee finished off the board in the Kentucky Derby, in which he encountered some road traffic, before rebounding with his spectacular showing in the Dwyer.

    “It was frustrating because it was looking like he was putting it all together, but it was one of those things that he needed some time because he grabbed a quarter in the Dwyer and we just couldn’t get it healed up to continue racing and training,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, the time off has done him well and he has a big year ahead of him.”

 Luis Saez has the mount on Charge It.

Tapit Trice 3YO Stakes-Bound after Impressive Win

    Whisper Hill Farm’s Tapit Trice stamped himself as a 3-year-old to watch Saturday, when the son off Tapit scored an impressive eight-length victory in a mile optional claiming allowance on the undercard of the $250,000 Holy Bull.

    “He’s a colt we’ve had high hopes for all along,” Pletcher said. “He improved from his first to second start and improved again today. The exciting thing about him is the further he goes, the better he’ll get.”

    Tapit Trice broke somewhat slowly from his No. 1 post position before being angled to the outside by Saez. The long-striding gray colt raced mid-pack while four-wide along the backstretch before being asked for some run leaving the backstretch. Tapit Trice responded with a sustained run to overtake stablemate Shesterkin, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Irad Ortiz, in mid-stretch and drew off to score comfortably.

    Tapit Trice ran a mile in 1:36.44 while looking very much like a colt with a big future.

     “Everything’s in play. It’ll be a stake [next]. We’ll huddle up and talk it over,” Pletcher said.

    Tapit Trice debuted with a third-place finish in a mile maiden special weight race at Aqueduct on Nov. 6 before graduating there at a mile over slop Dec. 17. He was bought at the 2021 Keeneland September sale for $1.3 million.

    Pletcher-trained Shesterkin finished second, four lengths ahead of Live is Life. Pletcher also finished one-two in the $175,000 Sweetest Chant with Cairo Consort and Alpha Bella.

Rainbow 6 Pool Guaranteed 

    The 20-cent Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $250,000 today. The multi-race wager went unsolved Saturday for the fourth day following last Sunday’s mandatory payout of an $828,941 carryover pool that generated a Rainbow 6 handle of $6,265,823. 

Who’s Hot: Pletcher saddled three winners Saturday, scoring with King’s Fortune ($14.40) in Race 5, Tapit Trice ($4.60) in Race 8 and Major Dude ($4.80) in Race 9.

    Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode a Gulfstream record-tying seven winners Friday, scored with King’s Fortune ($14.40) in Race 5 and Major Dude ($4.80) in Race 9.

Saturday, February 4, 2023
Emmanuel breaks turf course mark . . .
    OLDSMAR - On a sunny, windy afternoon, a pair of lightly raced 4-year-olds delivered sparkling, whirlwind finishes to be remembered on Turf Champions Day at Tampa Bay Downs.

    A little more than an hour after 4-year-old filly Surprisingly rallied for a neck victory from Scotish Star in the Gr. III, $175,000 Endeavour Stakes for older fillies and mares in stakes-record time, 4-year-old colt Emmanuel did even better, surging through the stretch to win the Gr. III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths from pace-setter and eventual runner-up Winfromwithin.

    Emmanuel’s time of 1:39.25 is a stakes and course record, eclipsing the Tampa Bay Downs mark for the distance of 1:39.65 set by Legs Galore in the same event in 1999, the second year of racing on the Oldsmar oval turf course.

    “I’m very pleased. It was an excellent comeback,” trainer Todd Pletcher said via text message from Gulfstream Park of Emmanuel’s first start since early August. “(The course record) makes it even more impressive.”

    Winning jockey Javier Castellano, a lot closer to the Tampa Bay Stakes action, was more expansive in describing things.

    “(Coming off the pace today) really was the game plan,” Castellano said of Emmanuel, who had won the Gr. II Pennine Ridge on June 4 at Belmont in front-running fashion. “I thought there would be a lot of speed in the race, and (Winfromwithin) had the speed to dictate the pace. We saved ground as best we could and when I tipped him outside, he responded.”

    Castellano said he benefited from working Emmanuel last week at Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs base in south Florida. “It seemed like he was relaxed today. It was a beautiful trip, and I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” Castellano said.

    Jose Batista, on Winfromwithin, had no complaints with his horse’s effort. The 5-year-old hung on gamely to edge Golden Alchemist by a neck for second, with Verbal fourth in the 12-horse field.

    Emmanuel, who paid $14.60 to win, had been on the Triple Crown trail last year, with an impressive 4 ½-length victory in his second career start on Jan. 30 on the Tampa Bay Downs dirt creating Kentucky Derby fever among many of his followers.

    But Pletcher switched gears after a fourth in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth and a third in the Toyota Blue Grass, and the son of More Than Ready-Hard Cloth, by Hard Spun, seems to have found a new niche.

    Owned by WinStar Farm and Siena Farm, he is now 4-for-7, with career earnings of $362,100.

    Surprisingly’s victory in the Endeavour was close to being just as impressive. With Scotish Star and Marketsegmentation appearing set to duel to the wire, Surprisingly and jockey Paco Lopez closed with a rush to post a neck victory from Scotish Star. The winner’s time of 1:40.08 on the firm turf course bettered the former stakes record of 1:40.26, set by My Lordship in 2006.

    Surprisingly’s fourth victory in seven starts for the Phipps Stable-bred and owned, Claude “Shug” McGaughey-trained winner resulted in a payoff of $9.40. Marketsegmentation, making only her fourth career start, held on gamely for third, with pace-setter Panama Red lasting for fourth in the 11-horse field.

    “I thought she ran great and I though Paco (Lopez) rode her great, and that made the difference,’ McGaughey said by telephone from his south Florida base, about an hour-and-a-half after he won the Gr. III Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park with General Jim. “(Lopez) saved ground around both turns and swung her outside so she could finish, and they both did a great job.

    “It’s her first graded race and her first time against older horses, so we didn’t really know what to expect,” McGaughey said. “I thought she could be competitive, but there were a lot of competitive horses in the race. We took a shot, and it worked.”

    At the top of the stretch, Lopez, who had only one horse beat early, figured he would be hard-pressed to catch the top two. That is, until ability or genetics or will, or a combination of all three, kicked in, and the daughter of Mastery-Vagabond, by Arch, virtually sprouted wings and took dead aim on the leaders.

    “I saw (Scotish Star) was a couple of lengths in front, but I had better position and I could feel my horse picking up speed,” Lopez said. “She ran very fast at the end. She was flying.”

    First-place money of $90,000 raised Surprisingly’s career bankroll to $205,950. That winner’s check, runner-up jockey Castellano figured, was heading the way of Scotish Star’s owners and trainer Pletcher (and himself) until Surprisingly kind of shocked him.

    “No excuses, not at all,” Castellano said. “I am really satisfied with how my horse ran and I liked the way she finished. I thought I won the race turning for home, but we were second-best.”

Around the oval - Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode three winners, extending his advantage in the season’s competition to 51-30 over Pablo Morales. Camacho won the fourth race on Liking It Twisted, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Juan Arriagada and Robert M. Bosso and trained by Arriagada.

    Camacho added the fifth, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, with Talk of the Nation, a 3-year-old colt owned by Joseph Allen and China Horse Club and trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey III. Camacho scored again in the 10th on the turf on Tallahatachiebridge, a 4-year-old colt bred and owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey and trained by Saffie A. Joseph Jr.

    Trainer Jorge Delgado sent out two winners. He is tied with Gerald Bennett in the Leading Trainer race, 22-22. Delgado won the first race with Old Time Revival, an 8-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Strike Stable and ridden by Eddie Santiago. Delgado added the third on Creative Cloud, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Joseph Colonna and ridden by Paco Lopez.
Saturday, February 4, 2023
Mott runners finish 1-2 . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - One week after saddling Art Collector for a victory in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott made another visit to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle after saddling Rocket Can for a triumph in today’s $250,000, Gr. III Holy Bull.

    Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can ($7.20) overcame an extremely wide trip in the 1 1/16-mile race to score by three-quarters of a length. The son of Into Mischief was ridden by Junior Alvarado, who was also aboard Art Collector for his Pegasus World Cup score.

    The Holy Bull, the first graded stakes stop on the road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby, headlined a 12-race program that offered five graded stakes opportunities for 3-year-olds.

    The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is a designated Kentucky Derby prep with the first four finishers eligible for 20 qualifying points on an 8-6-4-2 scale.

    Rocket Can broke from the outside post position in a field of eight and was caught four wide around the first turn. Alvarado kept the gray colt in the clear on the outside as Mr. Bob showed the way along the backstretch while posting fractions of :23.92 and :48.84 seconds for the first half mile.

    Rocket Can was asked for run leaving the backstretch and made a three-wide move to the lead at the top of the stretch and continued on to withstand a stretch challenge from Shadow Dragon, another Mott trainee ridden by Jose Ortiz.

    “The horse broke sharp, and I hustled out of there just to make sure I’m forwardly placed and he was there for me,"Alvarado said. "I couldn’t really save much ground the first part because everybody had the same idea to get out of there running. I ended up being a little bit wide, but he was very kind. He was nice and relaxed the whole way around, so I was very pleased with what I had under me. By the three-eighths pole I started picking it up little by little knowing that it’s the first wire. I had a great feeling going all the way around.”

    Rocket Can ran 1 1/16-miles in 1:44.97 to win his stakes debut. Peachtree Stable’s Shadow Dragon, a 30-1 shot, finished 2 ¼ lengths clear of West Coast Cowboy, a 58-1 shot ridden by Edgard Zayas.

    Rocket Can finished off the board in a pair of sprints at Saratoga before stretching out around to turns to graduate at Churchill Downs by two lengths on Oct. 30. The Kentucky-bred colt finished his juvenile campaign with a close second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.

    “It was a little worrisome on the first turn," Mott said. "He was four wide. It’s a short run to the first turn and he had the outside post. He was four wide in the first turn and then three wide. The good part about all that is you have a clear trip. You’re running further than everyone else, but he got a nice clean trip and maybe that’s what he needed today.”

    Today’s effort strengthened Mott’s confidence in Rocket Can’s capability to run at longer distances.

    “It seems like he can keep going. Hopefully, another sixteenth is good and another three-sixteenths is even better,” said Mott. “Time will tell that.”

    Shadow Dragon’s strong performance very much pleased his trainer.

    “It was a great race for him. I’m very pleased with his effort for a horse that’s run only twice,” said Mott, whose New York-bred son of Army Mule defeated state-breds in a six-furlong debut at Aqueduct on Sept. 29 before finishing off-the-board in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes. “He moved way forward today.”

    The Holy Bull will be followed on the road to the Florida Derby by the Fountain of Youth on March. 4.

    “I think we’d want to do that with one of them, for sure,” Mott said.

    Cyclone Mischief, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, raced in mid-pack before fading to seventh.
Friday, February 3, 2023
He's the fifth Gulfstream rider with 7 winners . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr. equaled the record for most wins by a jockey on a card at Gulfstream Park today, riding the winners of seven consecutive races on a nine-race program.

    Ortiz shares the Gulfstream record with four other jockeys: Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey (3/11/96), Tyler Gaffalione (7/4/17), Luis Saez (1/24/18; 3/29/18) and Paco Lopez (3/21/20). But Ortiz became the only one in to win seven races in a row.

    “It feels great," Ortiz said. "Everything worked out so good today. Everything came out perfect out there. It was one of those days where everything goes your way, so you enjoy it. We had some live horses, and we always try to look on the positive side with them and ride them all with confidence. But every day doesn’t work like today. It’s hard, but today was one of those days.”

    The 30-year-old jockey, recently awarded the Eclipse Award for the 2022 racing season, swept Races 2-8 on the nine-race card after Kathleen Taylor's Max Swagger broke his maiden in the first race in his second start. 

    “It’s my first time winning seven races in one day,” Ortiz said. “So, I feel great.”

    The three-time Championship Meet titlist at Gulfstream guided Dignified ($7.20) to victory in Race 2 to start his streak before scoring aboard Little Jewel ($4.20), Lakota Territory ($5.60), Riveting Spirit ($7), Tape to Tape ($4.20), Rhymes Like Dimes ($4.40) and Six Minus ($7.40) in Races 3-8.

    Ortiz finished fifth aboard favored Maclin in Race 1, and seventh aboard Turn On the Charm in Race 9. He now leads the Championship Meet standings with 44 winners, 10 more than defending champion Luis Saez.
Monday, January 30, 2023
Baffert trainees win two graded tests . . .

    Arabian Knight and Havnameltdown, two members of the Bob Baffert-trained brigade of talented 3-year-olds, posted graded stakes wins over the weekend.

    Zedan Racing Stables’ Arabian Knight is two for two and a graded stakes-winner after a front-running 5-1/2 length victory in the $750,000, Gr. III Southwest Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. A 7 1/4-length winner of his debut in a seve-furlong maiden test at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup undercard in November, the 3-year-old colt by Uncle Mo had no trouble with the two-turn distance in the Southwest. He has earned $544,275 after his purchase for a sale-topping $2.3-million out of the Top Line Sales consignment by Gary Young on behalf of Zedan Racing after he sped an Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5. 

    Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman’s Havnameltdown bounced right to the front in Sunday’s $196,000, Gr. II San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita and never looked back, holding fellow OBS graduate Faustin (April ’22) at bay in the stretch and scoring by a length and a half. That’s three graded stakes wins for the two-time OBS graduate, sold first by Beth Bayer, Agent, at the 2021 October Yearling Sale and then purchased for $200,000 out of the Blas Perez Stables consignment at the 2022 Spring Sale after breezing an Under Tack in :9 4/5. Now 5-4-1-0, the 3-year-old Florida-bred colt by Uncaptured has earned $408,000. 

    MyRacehorse’s Lane Way took command of Sunday’s $100,000 Clockers Corner Stakes at Santa Anita turning for home and was never threatened down the lane, reporting home a 2 1/2-length winner. Fellow OBS graduate Respect the Code (April ’21) checked in third. It’s the first stakes win for the graded stakes- placed 6-year-old son of Into Mischief, trained by Richard Mandella, now 17-4-6-5 with $367,560 in earnings. Consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, to the 2019 OBS March Sale and sold for $550,000 after he turned in an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5.