Gulfstream Stars Prominent in Gr. I Travers
Saturday, August 26, 2023
    HALLANDALE BEACH - When the gates open for the 154th running of the Travers Stakes today, five of the seven starters will have started their 3-year-old seasons at Gulfstream Park during its Championship Meet.

    Champion Forte, 7-5 in the morning line, started his 2023 season at Gulfstream with victories in the Curlin Florida Derby  and the Fountain of Youth. Kentucky Derby winner Mage won his debut at Gulfstream in January before finishing fourth in the Fountain of Youth and second in the Florida Derby.

    In the same barn as Mage was Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo, who made his first three starts at Gulfstream for trainer Jena Antonucci. The colt raced in December and January before breaking his maiden in March.

   Two other starters in the Travers, Tapit Trice and Scotland, also started their 3-year-old seasons at Gulfstream. Tapit Trice won his 2023 debut in February, while Scotland won his debut in March.

    Previous Florida Derby winners who have gone on to win the Travers include Tiz the Law, Thunder Gulch and Holy Bull.

Big and Classy Stretches Out for Edwin T. Broome Memorial

    Big and Classy, the winner of seven of his last eight races, all coming at distances between 5 ½ furlongs and seven furlongs, will seek to continue his impressive run while stretching out to a mile for the first time in the $60,000 Edwin T. Broome Memorial.

    The Bobby Dibona-trained 4-year-old gelding is a son of The Big Beast, who never ran beyond seven furlongs during a nine-race career that included a victory in the 2014 King’s Bishop, a seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds that will be renewed as the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on the Travers undercard.

    “I think we found another good spot for him. We have to stretch out a little bit further, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Dibona said.

    Big and Classy was claimed for $20,000 in March after winning his second straight race. The Florida-bred gelding went on to win his next four starts for Dibona and new owners Keith Johnston and Chris Aulds. He came up short while trying graded stakes company for the first time, finishing second behind Dean Delivers in the July 1 Smile Sprint. Returning in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance last time out, Big and Classy recovered from a troubled start to rally from off the pace to win going away by 2 ¾ lengths under Leonel Reyes.

    “I don’t know what he was doing in the gate, but he certainly wasn’t paying attention,” Dibona said. “They sprung it and he broke poorly, and I said, ‘Aw, geez.’” But, professionally, he settled down. Reyes knows him, and when he called upon him, he had a lot of horse, and he just drew away.”

    Big and Classy will be the co-highweight with Victor Barboza Jr.-trained Long Range Toddy at 123 pounds in the overnight handicap named in memory of trainer Eddie Broome, who passed away last fall.

    Long Range Toddy, who was on the 2019 Triple Crown trail after winning the Rebel at Oaklawn, returned to winning form in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream on July 16 in his first start for Barboza. The 7-year-old son of Take Charge Indy has two victories in two-turn mile races.
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