Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Under normal circumstances - and we are experiencing anything but these days - the first 2-year-old races of the year are run in New Mexico. However, with about 90 percent of the tracks in North America shuttered, the honor of hosting the first two races for juveniles goes to Gulfstream Park.
The leadoff will be the second race on Thursday, a $65,000 maiden special for fillies at 4 1/2 furlongs. It has drawn a field of eight, and it will be the first race to be run under the new conditions for juveniles; they cannot compete until they have reached their actual second birthday, instead of all turning two on Jan 1.
As has been the norm for many years, the lowest morning line price belongs to a filly trained by Wesley Ward, who has made a habit of getting his youngsters ready earlier than his rivals and banking a ton of cash before the others know what has hit them. Ward's Lime is a Florida-bred by Iqbaal, who stands at Ward Farm, and who Wesley doesn't bother to advertise. Just about every foal by Iqbaal has been a Ward homebred. Lime is listed at 7/5 with red-hot Tyler Gaffalione aboard and will go from the No. 2 post.
An interesting foe will be Sophisticurl, who will be the first runner for Pleasant Acres Stallions freshman sire Ride On Curlin. As of now, there are only two freshman sires in Florida, until we might find one or more not listed in the Stallion Register. The other is Ocala Stud Farm's Jess's Dream. Sophisticurl, bred by Joe and Helen Barbazon, is listed at 10-1 and has drawn post 4 for owner/trainer Lester Barbazon III with talented rider Fanny Olsson, the Swedish gal who is a long shot player's dream.
Aside from Ride On Curlin, there are three others in the race who are by current or former sires from Pleasant Acres. They are: No. 3, Kitten's Dream, by Csaba; No. 5, Yafa, by Handsome Mike, and No. 7, Pretzel, by Brethren, who moved to Arindel Farm after his first few years at Pleasant Acres and has been a bright light for owners Alan and Karen Cohen. The Cohens also have the No. 8 horse, Quinoa Tifah, with Emisael Jaramillo. She's by Gemologist, and is listed at 9/2.
Yafa comes from the barn of Troy Levy's Tropical Racing LLC, which buys young horses and mares and syndicates them at his Circle 8 Ranch. She's 8-1 for trainer Michelle Nihei and has Luca Panici, one of the most under-rated riders in Florida and one of the best finishers in the Gulfstream jockey colony.
The No. 6 horse, Sister Aurora, is a New York-bred by Majestic City, the Empire State's leading freshman sire of 2019.
The Friday race, also for $65,000 at 4 1/2 furlongs, has drawn a field of nine colts and geldings and Wesley Ward has No. 7, Golden Pal, an Uncle Mo colt with Tyler Gaffalione. There are three former Pleasant Acres stallions involved - No. 3, Arindel's Gatsby, by Brethren; No. 6, Poseidon's Warrior, by Poseidon and bred by the Barbazons, and No. 9, Bailey, another of Arindel's Brethrens.
The nos. 4 and 5, Peppi and Just Right Mike, are both by Stonehedge Farm's rising star, Cajun Breeze. Both are owned, bred and trained by Beau Yates and his Shadybrook Farm, which fared so well with sons and daughters from the first crop of Cajun Breeze in 2018.
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