HALLANDALE BEACH – Cajun Firecracker got the money in the $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream on Aug. 4. His breeder/owner/trainer got a pile of cash after the homebred colt’s triumph in the first leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.
Bred and owned by trainer Michael Yates’ Shadybrook Farm, Cajun Firecracker is scheduled to return in the $200,000 Affirmed Division of the FSS for new connections Saturday.
“We’re in this business to make money,” Yates said. “Our goal this year was to win a [sire] stakes. We accomplished that and then we had an offer that was too good to refuse.”
The undefeated son of Cajun Breeze was purchased by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, a long-time client of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and transferred to the barn of trainer Ralph Nicks to prepare for the seven-furlong Affirmed.
Cajun Firecracker became the first winner for first-year sire Cajun Breeze on April 13, capturing his debut by two lengths. Yates had campaigned the hard-knocking Cajun Breeze during a 33-race career that yielded four victories and $246,860 in earnings before his retirement in 2015.
“Cajun Breeze is doing very well. It’s very rewarding,” Yates said. “I have 14 yearlings and 15 mares in foal to him this year. I’m all-in.”
Cajun Breeze, a son of Congrats, is a half-brother to Cajun Delta Dawn, who captured two legs of the 2016 Florida Sire Stakes, the Desert Vixen and the Susan’s Girl, before finishing second in the Gr. III Delta Downs Princess.
Cajun Firecracker, who will be ridden back by Miguel Vasquez, closed from off a contested pace to prevail by a neck over odds-on favorite Fully Loaded in the six-furlong Dr. Fager after a seven-week layoff.
For this one, Yates will be trying to upset Cajun Firecracker with Cajun Embers, another son of Cajun Breeze, who closed from last to fifth in the Dr. Fager.
“I thought it was a productive race. Our goal was to try to make sure he was running at the end,” said Yates, who will also be represented by Nancysaidso, a two-time winner by Cajun Breeze, in Saturday’s $200,000 Susan’s Girl for fillies. “The further the races go for him, we feel like the better chance we’ll have.” Jesus Rios has the mount aboard Cajun Embers.
Calypso Stable and Rousseau Racing’s Fully Loaded, who was disqualified and placed third in the Dr. Fager for interference in the stretch after pressing a strong pace, looms as the horse to beat again in the Affirmed. The Jose Pinchin-trained colt sustained his first loss in the Dr. Fager after winning his first two starts impressively. Nik Juarez has the mount aboard the son of Two Step Salsa.
Garter and Tie, who finished third and was placed second in the Dr. Fager, returns in the Affirmed for owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm, which has notched a record 18 FSS victories. The son of Brooks ’N Down made a strong stretch run to fall short of graduating in the Dr. Fager by two necks. Emisael Jaramillo has been named to ride the Nicks-trained Garter and Tie.
Trainer Stanley Gold, who saddled all of the Jacks or Better’s winners, will seek to add to his personal record total with a pair of Arindel homebred sons of Brethren – Nacho Papa and Homeboy. Nacho Papa, who won his May 12 debut and finished second behind Fully Loaded in a July 6 optional claiming allowance, showed brief speed before fading to eighth at the finish of the Dr. Fager.
“He just didn’t show up. He had no excuses,” Gold said. “He came back to breeze two weeks ago in 47 (seconds), which was the fastest of 92.”
Homeboy closed from far back to capture a six-furlong maiden race on Aug. 18 by 1 ¼ lengths to graduate in his fourth career start. “He won very workmanlike. He kept coming. He’s definitely getting better,” Gold said. “He wants to run two turns.”
Jeffrey Sanchez has the return mount aboard Nacho Papa, while Jonathan Gonzalez will ride Homeboy.