Wednesday, August 31, 2022
The Affirmed, the seven-furlong second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series, will co-headline Saturday’s program with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies in the lucrative series for 2-year-old offspring of accredited stallions standing in Florida.
“He’s been impressive. He surprises me every day with his training. He is a very smart horse,” trainer Jorge Delgado said. “He’s ready for a race. It’s hard for me to keep him settled because he wants to do so much every day. Thank God, we don’t have any more breezes before the race. My job is just to keep him happy.”
Awesome Strong offered an attention-grabbing debut May 6 at Gulfstream Park, breaking free of traffic on the turn to score going away by six lengths, completing 4 ½ furlongs in a swift 51.62 seconds. CSLR Ranch Partners’ Bill Childs and son Alex Childs were so impressed with the performance that they proceeded to purchase him for $500,000, agreeing to the steep price tag knowing that the son of Awesome Slew was eligible for the lucrative Florida Sire Stakes series.
They were hardly stricken by buyer’s remorse when Awesome Strong came back to dominate Florida-sired rivals Aug. 5 in the $100,000 Dr. Fager at Gulfstream. Away from the gate alertly, he set a solid pace along the backstretch and far turn before drawing clear in the stretch by 4 ¾ lengths under returning rider Miguel Vasquez in the six-furlong first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes. Although it was his first start for his new owners, it was his second start for trainer Jorge Delgado.
The owners were new in the game. They didn’t know many people in the game, so they said, ‘Let’s just call the trainer who trained the horse and see if he wants to train the horse.’ I said, ‘Of course, I want to train the horse,’” Delgado recalled. “I was very sad when the owners sold the horse but very happy when the new owners said I was going to keep training the horse.”
Awesome Strong didn’t exactly take Delgado by surprise with the sensational start of his career.
“My exercise riders who have been with me from the beginning loved him. They said, ‘He’s smart. He’s very professional in his training,” Delgado said. “Every time he breezed, he showed a lot of talent, so the first time he ran, we were expecting big things out of him.”
Vasquez, Gulfstream’s leading rider who has been aboard for both victories, has the return mount aboard Awesome Strong.
Arindel’s Turbo, who finished a clear second behind Awesome Strong in the Dr. Fager, is scheduled to return in the Affirmed. The son of Brethren had previously captured his June 19 debut by 2 ¾ lengths over a next-out winner.
Arindel will also be represented by Maximo, another homebred son of Brethren who graduated by 10 ½ lengths in a two-turn race on Tapeta.
Edwin Gonzalez has the call on Turbo, whom he rode in his debut victory, while Emisael Jaramillo is scheduled to ride Maximo.
Stonehedge LLC’s This Run’s for You will seek to rebound from an off-the-board finish as the favorite in the Dr. Fager. The Kathleen O’Connell trainee attended the pace into the stretch before fading to seventh in the first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes just 11 days after producing a brilliant debut performance. The gelded son of Khozan scored a front-running 11-length victory in a six-furlong maiden special weight race for state-breds.
Edgar Perez will return aboard the Stonehedge LLC homebred.
Gary Barber and D J Stable LLC’s Bouncer, a son of Adios Charlie who was purchased for $190,000 in June at the OBS horses of racing age sale, enters the Affirmed off an impressive debut victory Aug. 20. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Bouncer rated off the pace before making a three-wide sweep into the stretch and edging away to a one-length victory in the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race for Florida-breds. Sonny Leon has the return call.
Magic Cap Stables’ Apocalypso is also scheduled to make his stakes debut in his second start Saturday. The son of red-hot freshman sire Girvin debuted in a 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight race for Florida-breds, in which he raced four-wide before taking the lead on the turn into the homestretch and resisting late pressure to prevail by a neck.
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Edgard Zayas will be back aboard the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt.
William Churly and Shadowbrook Farm Inc.’s Cajun Hope will be a popular upset pick for many trip handicappers after performing gamely in the face of adversity in his last three starts. The Michael Yates-trained son of Cajun Breeze most recently hit the gate at the start of the Dr. Fager and raced extremely wide but ran gamely in the stretch to get up for a third-place finish behind Awesome Strong and Turbo.
Marcos Meneses has the return mount board Cajun Hope, who previously graduated in a six-furlong open maiden special weight race despite bobbling at the start.
Champion Equine LLC’s Commandant will attempt to rebound from sixth-place finish in the Dr. Fager that followed an impressive debut victory in which the son of Girvin surged in the stretch to prevail over Cajun Hope after racing eight-wide into the stretch.
Luca Panici has the mount on the David Braddy trainee, who was purchased for $300,000 at the OBS April sale.
Corinne and William Heiligbrodt’s Undalay, Robyn Kaiser’s Ensign Skip and Granpollo Stable’s Gran Slash round out the field.
The Affirmed will be followed Oct. 1 by the $400,000 In Reality.