Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Eclipse Award winner has 22 winners in 6 days . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Hot riding Irad Ortiz Jr. notched his sixth straight multi-win day Monday, riding six winners, five in starter stakes, on the President's Day program at Gulfstream Park.

The reigning Eclipse Award winner scored aboard Lucky Long ($3.60) in the $60,000 Mary Todd (Race 5), Wildwood Dancer ($4.80) in the $60,000 Rail Splitter (Race 6), Midtown Rose ($4.40) in the $60,000 Queen Mother (Race 8),  Zulu ($6.20) in the $60,000 Old Hickory (Race 10), Your Only Man ($6.20) in the $60,000 Old Man Eloquent (Race 11), and Souper Jaguar ($5.80) in a maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds on turf (Race 12).

    The six-win day, which was one win short of the Gulfstream record co-held by Luis Saez, Tyler Gaffalione and Jerry Bailey, was a personal best for Ortiz. “It’s amazing winning six races in one day," Ortiz said. "I’m so happy. I’m blessed. I’m just happy to be able to stay healthy and ride these kind of horses. My agent [Steve Rushing] does a great job and the owners and trainers, they give me the opportunity. I appreciate that.” Ortiz has won 22 races in the last six racing days at Gulfstream.

RAINBOW 6 GROWS AGAIN - The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot for Wednesday’s program will be $119,458.32. The multi-race wager has gone unsolved for three racing days after an Xpressbet player hit the jackpot for a $227,505 payoff last Friday. Multiple tickets with all six winners Monday were each worth $4,429.88

WHO ELSE IS HOT - Leading trainer Jorge Navarro tripled with Starship Reina ($4.80) in the $50,000 Lady Bird (Race 2), Wildwood Dancer and Zulu.


Sunday, February 17, 2019
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Trainer Jorge Navarro unveiled an exciting 3-year-old...

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Trainer Jorge Navarro unveiled an exciting 3-year-old prospect in Saturday’s well-stocked third race at Gulfstream Park, saddling Shancelot ($27.60) for a sizzling front-running debut victory.

    Owned by Gelfenstein Farm and Albert and Michelle Crawford, the son of Shanghai Bobby ran seven furlongs in 1:22.15 after posting dazzling fractions of 22.27, 44.29 and 1:08.82 under Emisael Jaramillo. Shancelot held gamely to hold off a determined late bid by Bodexpress, who finished 5 ½ lengths clear of favored Fort Worth.

    The finish was a tribute to Ocalan Mike Mulligan's picks on his BetBestBreeze website, with the first three finishers all spotted by him in his pre-race selections. Mike travels to all the 2-year-old sales and gives each horse a number from 1 (the best) to 9 based on the under tack shows, incorporating many more factors than just the horse's clocking. He has quite a record for spotting winners their first time out, and Shancelot was one of them, along with Bodexpress and Fort Worth. Shancelot had been given the top number, while Bodexpress was a 5 and Fort Worth a 2. 

     “Albert and Michelle Crawford and Gelfenstein Farm gave me an opportunity to go to the sales. They spent a lot of money on babies,” Navarro said. “We bought six and this one was working like [he just ran].” Shancelot was purchased for $245,000 at the 2018 OBS March sale. “I loved the way he worked – the gallop-out,” Navarro said. “The gallop-out was amazing.”

     Navarro’s success has come primarily with older horses, such as X Y Jet, Private Zone, Sharp Azteca, Delta Bluesman and Aztec Sense, but Shancelot’s eye-catching debut provides his stable with a new dimension. “He’s kind of built like Sharp Azteca. He reminds me of Sharp Azteca,” Navarro said. “When he works in the morning he reminds me of Sharp Azteca.”

     One race later, trainer Mario Pino sent out first-time starter Karama ($5.80) for an extremely impressive debut. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy totally dominated five other 3-year-old fillies during a front-running triumph under Nik Juarez to win by 4 ½ lengths. The Shadwell homebred filly ran seven furlongs in 1:23.19 on fractions of 22.42, 45.07 and 1:09.80.

 Who’s Hot: Streaking Irad Ortiz Jr. won three more races Saturday to move into a tie with two-time Championship Meet titlist Luis Saez at the top of the jockey standings, 84-84. Ortiz, who has won 13 races on the last four programs in the absence of Saez, scored aboard Blamed ($3.80) in the $150,000 Royal Delta in Race 11, as well as winning with Stronger Kat ($3.40) in Race 8 and Flowmotion ($6.80) in Race 12.

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Krampus moves up from fifth to fourth . . .

    Thumbs up to Bill Mott for a good piece of replay watching at Gulfstream Park last Saturday.

    Mott had Bill Schettine's Krampus running in the 11th race, the $100,000 El Prado Stakes at about 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf; Manoel Cruz was the rider. In the mad dash to the wire, Krampus, still in contention, was chopped off badly between eventual winner Hembree to his right and runner-up Mr. Cub to his left. Cruz stood straight up, then continued to ride Krampus to the wire, finishing fifth. 

    In the aftermath, Cruz claimed foul against Hembree and rider Irad Ortiz, and Mott, apparently, went right to the replay TVs. What he saw, along with thousands of others, was that Hembree had kept a straight course through the lane and that it was Mr. Cub, with Chris Landeros, who had made a huge right turn toward Hembree and it was he who cut off Krampus. So Mott called the stewards and claimed against the runner-up.

    The stewards agreed with Mott, because the infraction was obvious, and disqualified Mr. Cub to fifth, behind Krampus, who was moved up to fourth. The difference in purse money wasn't great - Krampus went from the $2,790 for fifth to $4,650 for fourth - but in this game, every penny counts and owner Schettine will accept it. 

    Almost lost in the incident was that Hembree, a 5-year-old by Proud Citizen, broke the course record for the distance, putting 1:27.06 on the teletimer. 




Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Kantharos gelding romps by nearly 8 lengths . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - X Y Jet romped to a 7 ¾-length victory in today's ninth race at Gulfstream Park, punching his ticket to Dubai for a third run in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 30. Sent to post as the 2-5 favorite in a field of six in the stakes-caliber six-furlong optional claiming allowance, X Y Jet and jockey Emisael Jaramillo enjoyed a carefree trip while registering an uncontested front-running victory.

    Trainer Jorge Navarro, however, had some uneasy moments leading up to today’s pivotal race. “I’m a little emotional," he said. "We were going to scratch him. He tied up on us Sunday for the first time. Thank God, we have an amazing team.”

    The 7-year-old gelding rebounded from the cramping condition, racing six furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:09.98, built on fractions of 22.4, 45.45 and 57.63 seconds. Santiamen finished second, three lengths ahead of Reason to Soar. Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy finished fourth.

    Navarro said a return trip to Dubai hinges on how X Y Jet exits the race. “He looked good hitting the ground. Jaramillo felt everything perfect,” he said, referring to physical issues that have interrupted his career on several occasions. X Y Jet has won 11 of 24 starts and more than $1.5 million in purses. The popular 7-year-old gelding finished second twice in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a neck behind Muarrab in 2016 and a head behind Mind Your Biscuits last year.

    X Y Jet returned from Dubai last year to capture the Smile Sprint at Gulfstream on June 30 before heading to the sidelines for 6 ½ months. The son of Kantharos was upset in his Jan. 19 return in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, in which he came up uncharacteristically short to finish fourth after breaking from the rail post position and being subjected to heavy pace pressure.

Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $58,824

    The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot for Thursday’s program grew to $58,824.10, when the multi-race wager went unsolved for the second day since a mandatory payout yielded multiple payoffs of $100,919 last Saturday. Multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $429.84.

Who’s Hot: Irad Ortiz Jr. rode four winners in a row, scoring aboard King Leo ($8) in Race 5, Star Juancho ($14.60) in Race 6, Unbridled Holiday ($12) in Race, and Skywire ($8.40) in Race 8. Ortiz closed to within nine wins of idle Luis Saez, the two-time defending Championship Meet titlist who has a meet-leading 84 victories

Monday, February 11, 2019
Well Defined headed for Tampa Bay Derby . . .

    OLDSMAR - The celebration at the Kathleen O’Connell Racing Stables barn was relatively subdued after Saturday’s Gr. III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes victory by Well Defined on Festival Preview Day 39 Presented by Lambholm South. But it continued into Sunday afternoon, as well-wishers paid heartfelt tribute to the 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding, his trainer and her staff.

    Paula Bacon, the agent for winning jockey Pablo Morales, bought a case of cool ones for everyone to toast the winner Saturday night. O’Connell enjoyed a glass of wine at home and prepared for a typical pre-dawn arrival to supervise Sunday's activities. One of O’Connell’s owners, Joe DiBello, bought steaks for an afternoon cookout. “I think he had a ticket on (Well Defined),” O’Connell said with a sly smile.

    Any time a locally-based outfit wins a major stakes, the result is enjoyed throughout the barn area by the track’s rank-and-file owners, trainers, grooms, hot walkers and exercise riders, who know how difficult it is just to get a horse to a big-money race. In the case of O’Connell, who first arrived at Tampa Bay Downs in 1976 as a gallop person when women were not universally accepted on the backside and started her own stable in 1981, the feelings are especially heartfelt.

    Throughout the day, she felt the presence of her late parents, Joseph and Arlene, who died within a recent three-month span after being married 68 years. But there were no bittersweet feelings in the winner’s circle as O’Connell and her crew exulted. “Yesterday was special because it was at Tampa and I’ve been at this track every year since 1976,” said O’Connell, whose first racetrack license from Detroit Race Course in 1970 stated her occupation as “Pony Boy.” She first went to the racetrack when her application for Michigan State’s veterinary school was turned down despite her 3.8 grade-point average and four years of 4-H experience.

    “When I came here, I could see the writing on the wall as far as Michigan racing not moving forward, plus I’d had pneumonia three times. I moved here (permanently) in 1984 because it was such a good place to train and live, so it’s like this is home,” she said.

    Also enjoying the hometown vibe Saturday was trainer Arnaud Delacour, who sent out Lael Stables’ 6-year-old mare Hawksmoor to win the Gr. III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on the turf in a thriller under jockey Javier Castellano.

    In the day’s other stakes races, Inspector Lynley won the Gr. III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf for the second time in three years, and 3-year-old filly Point of Honor won the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes.

    O’Connell reported that Well Defined came out of the race in good shape and will be shipped back to his Gulfstream Park West base in the next day or two. “His group is there; Sebastian Madrid is his regular exercise rider, and Jose Gutierrez, who has worked for me for 18 years, is his regular breeze rider,” she said, “so it’s just been a big team effort.

    The game Sam F. Davis runner-up, Godolphin’s colt Kentucky Wildcat, was vanned off after the race. Trainer Tom Albertrani told the Daily Racing Form he incurred a right-foreleg injury and will likely undergo surgery this week in Ocala, putting his racing future in question.

    Well Defined earned 10 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points. O’Connell’s lone Kentucky Derby starter to date is 2011 Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go.

    The addition of blinkers appeared to give Well Defined the focus to follow Morales’ cues to perfection, sprint smartly to the lead at the outset and keep his mind on the business of winning throughout the mile-and-a-sixteenth event. “He’s a little on the immature side, and I had even thought about blinkers before he ran his first race just to try to get him focused,” O’Connell said. “I figured (the Sam F. Davis) was time, and I think the blinkers and Pablo getting him out of the gate and in good position were big factors.

    “I told Pablo before the race it wasn’t like he had to be in front, but he did have to be forwardly placed. It brought back visions of the $400,000 In Reality Stakes he won at Gulfstream (by 7 ½ lengths, on Sept. 29),” she said.

    O’Connell said she would discuss Well Defined’s next start with owners Gilbert and Marilyn Campbell; local fans are keeping their fingers crossed it will be in the Gr. II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. Like Watch Me Go and a number of other talented O’Connell-trained stakes-winners – Blazing Sword, Ivanavinalot, Scandalous Act and Fly by Phil, to name a few – Well Defined is a product of long-time client Gilbert Campbell’s Florida breeding program (Well Defined competes under Campbell and wife Marilyn’s Stonehedge, LLC banner).

    “It’s a tremendous testament to Mr. Campbell’s influence and his program, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” O’Connell said. “He has put a lot into the business over the years, and he’s a very patient owner. If a horse needs time, they get time. It’s good to have a rapport with your owners where you can discuss what races would fit them best.

    “Florida-bred horses can be great horses, it’s been proven over the years. I know (the state-bred program) has been suffering a little, but they breed outstanding horses. I’ve been blessed to win awards for training the most Florida-bred winners and so on, and when I get those awards I can feel the passion and the love in the room from breeders and owners for what they do. It’s a rewarding feeling,” she said.