Florida Derby Highlight of Saturday's 14-Race Program at Gulfstream
Friday, March 31, 2023

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Lothenbach Stable’s stakes-winner Ry’s the Guy, third in the 2021, Gr. III Sycamore at Keeneland, will continue his quest for a first graded victory in Saturday’s $200,000, Gr. II Pan American at Gulfstream Park.

    The Pan American, for 4-year-olds and up scheduled for 1 ½ miles on the grass, is the second of 10 stakes, five graded, worth $2.35 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program anchored by the $1 million, Gr. I Curlin Florida Derby.

    Ry’s the Guy hadn’t run between the 1 ½-mile Sycamore and his comeback race March 4 at Gulfstream – a span of 499 days. In the mile and a sixteenth optional claimer, the now 7-year- Distorted Humor gelding encountered some early trouble and raced near the back of the pack before finishing 10th in a field of 12.

    “It was such a long layoff and [we wanted to] just blow the cobwebs off and get him ready,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “Now he’s at his preferred distance, a mile and a half, which will really help him.”

    In his other two tries going 1 ½ miles on the grass, Ry’s the Guy was fifth in the Gr. II Elkhorn and fourth in the Gr. III Louisville in the summer of 2020, the latter by less than two lengths. On dirt at the distance, he won the Champions Day Marathon in the fall of 2020 and was second in the 2021 Isaac Murphy Marathon at Keeneland.

    “Every horse is different. To me a horse can either do it or they can’t,” Wilkes said. “It’s like a marathon runner, they can either do it or they can’t. It’s the same with a horse. The main thing is to watch them and keep them happy and make sure they’re fit enough.”

  Ry’s the Guy drew Post 4 in a field of eight for the Pan American and will have jockey Julien Leparoux back aboard.

    “He likes to be a little close, especially at the marathon distance,” Wilkes said. “I’ll leave it to Julien, but I’ll have him come out of the gates and get a forward position and be where he wants to be.”

    Ry’s the Guy has been based all winter at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, where he has been working regularly over its turf course.

    “He’s more mature now. Now he’s a gelding, too, and that will help. He’s trained very well. It’s not an easy race. It’s a tough race,” Wilkes said. “He’s cool. He’s a cool horse. One day he’ll make a great riding horse because he’s great to be around. He’s a fun horse. You don’t really know he’s there.”

Celestial Glaze Takes Win Streak into $100,000 Sir Shackleton

    Glaze, owned and trained by Calder Hall of Famer Danny Hurtak, will take a two-race win streak into what will be his stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Shackleton.

    A gelded 4-year-old son of three-time Gr. 1-winning multi-millionaire Frosted, Celestial Glaze has won successive optional claimers sprinting six and seven furlongs on Feb. 12 and March 8, respectively. He also won back-to-back races last summer at Gulfstream, each going 6 ½ furlongs.

    “When he was younger, because I’ve had him since he was 3, he was kind of very immature, a little bully. We gelded him [and it was a] complete turnaround as far as that goes,” Hurtak’s wife and assistant, Donna Green Hurtak, said. “He’s just really coming into himself now.”

    Celestial Glaze, purchased for $160,000 as a 2-year-old in training in May 2021, was claimed for $12,500 out of his third start on March 2022 at Gulfstream when he finished third, beaten less than a length, from Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

“I’m really proud that we were able to bring him up from the bottom claiming ranks and to show what he can do,” Hurtak said. “That’s what I really love doing, to bring out the best in a horse, and he’s helping us do that.”

    Edgar Perez will be aboard Celestial Glaze for the third straight race, breaking from Post 5 in a field of nine in the seven-furlong Sir Shackleton.

    “He’s really great to be around. He can be a little tough on the track with the rider, but other than that he’s really good in the barn,” Hurtak said. “[To win] I would be extremely proud of him and also his dad, Frosted, who I admired.”

Mrs. Astor Taking Step from Maiden to Stakes in Sanibel Island

    Augustin Stables’ homebred Mrs. Astor, a 1 ¼-length maiden special weight winner in her most recent start, will stay around two turns when she makes the step up to stakes company in Saturday’s $100,000 Sanibel Island.

    The 7 ½-furlong Sanibel Island for 3-year-old fillies is a two-turn race at Gulfstream, where Mrs. Astor graduated with aplomb going 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29 in her season debut. The bay filly raced twice at 2, beaten less than a length in a one-mile maiden special weight Dec. 11 at Gulfstream.

    “She’s come out of it really well,” trainer Jonathan Thomas said of her maiden triumph. “She’s actually putting on some weight, blossoming, doing all those things you like to see a horse do. Her training’s gone pretty seamlessly, and she’s a filly we’re a little excited about.”

    Mrs. Astor ran fifth, beaten four lengths, by Junipermarshmallow in debut last October going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland. Junipermarshmallow, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, came back to win the 7 ½-furlong Wait a While Dec. 10 at Gulfstream in her only subsequent start.

    Luis Saez gets the riding assignment on Mrs. Astor from Post 1 in a field of 10. Saez will be the fourth different rider in as many starts for the daughter of two-time champion Lookin At Lucky.

    “Anytime you can save ground on the grass I think it’s a huge advantage, especially with a filly that comes from behind and has a stalking trip. We’re exploring a lot of different options but certainly drawing the rail would make it a little bit more appealing,” Thomas said.

    “I think Luis can do anything you need Luis to do. He’s very good at anything and I think if we tell him we want to come from out of it, he can do it as well or better than anybody riding right now,” he added. “[She’s] super easy. She almost trains herself. She makes our job really easy.”

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