Thursday, September 26, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH - Stonehedge Farm’s Liam’s Lucky Charm and Shooting Star Thoroughbreds’ Chance It are ready to battle for Florida Sire Stakes supremacy in Saturday’s $400,000 In Reality at Gulfstream Park.
The In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile final leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-old colts and geldings sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida, will co-headline Saturday’s program with the $400,000 My Dear Girl for fillies. A total of eight stakes worth $1.325 million in purses will be contested on the 14-race card.
There will be a $150,000 guaranteed pool in the Late Pick 4 and a $100,000 guaranteed pool in the Late Pick 5.
The Flamingo Room will also play host to the third and final Taste of the Track – Bourbon, Beer & BBQ. Fans can sample hand-selected bourbons, local craft beers and BBQ bites and sliders while watching the races. The event starts at 1 p.m.
And finally, closing day Sunday will feature mandatory payouts on the 20-cent Rainbow 6, Late Pick 5 and Super Hi 5. If no one hits the Rainbow 6 through Saturday, the pool could be as high as $10 million Sunday afternoon.
Liam’s Lucky Charm, who finished second behind Chance It in the $100,000 FSS Dr. Fager on Aug. 3, turned the tables in the $200,000 FSS Affirmed with a narrow decision over Chance It on Aug. 31. The Stonehedge homebred rated in third behind pacesetting Chance It, who was pressed by Absolute Grit along the backstretch run, before making a three-wide move on the far turn to engage the Dr. Fager winner at the top of the stretch. A memorable stretch duel ensued before Liam’s Lucky Charm edged away to win by a head.
“He showed guts and steadiness. He never quit. He maintained his pace and kept running,” said trainer Ralph Nicks, who saddled Soutache for an In Reality victory in 2017. “Chance It is a very, very good horse that I have the utmost respect for. It’s a shame they’re in the same year, probably.”
The battle for FSS Supremacy will rage around two turns between a pair of colts who will both enter the In Reality with a lack of experience beyond the seven furlongs of the one-turn Affirmed.
“I think two turns is well within his grasp. I think it will be beneficial to him if anything,” said Nicks, who will also be represented in the In Reality field by Jacks or Better Farm’s Shivaree, a maiden who finished fourth in the Affirmed. “I think he’s been asking for distance. I’ve said that all along. We’ll see what happens Saturday.
Liam’s Lucky Charm, who finished third in his May 12 debut, graduated by 6 ¾ lengths at five furlongs on June 9. He would go on to finish 3 ¼ lengths behind Chance It in the six-furlong Dr. Fager, in which the son of Khozan was bumped leaving the backstretch and staged a four-wide move on the turn and into the homestretch. Reylu Gutierrez has the return mount aboard Liam’s Lucky Charm. Jeffrey Sanchez has been named on Shivaree.
In defeat in the Affirmed, Chance It registered his third straight 91 Beyer Speed Figure to claim three of the 10 fastest numbers recorded by a 2-year-old in the country this year. “If a horse runs a good Beyer or a good figure once, I’m always questioning it, but to do it repeatedly, that’s legit. He’s no phony. He’s a legit horse,” Joseph said. “I think he has a lot of talent. I’m excited to see him run Saturday.”
Chance It’s two-turn quest may well hinge on how he breaks in the 1 1/16-mile test, which will have a relatively short run to the first turn. “I believe, on the dirt, you have to break well. The break is important,” Joseph said. “On turf, you have to be patient. On dirt, you have to use a little to get position, after that the race is easier once you break from there.”
Chance It, who finished second in his debut, turned in a dazzling performance while graduating by 9 ¼ lengths at 5 ½ furlongs on June 9, registering the fastest Beyer Speed Figure in the country at the time. He came right back to score a front-running victory in the Dr. Fager before coming up just short in valiant effort in the Affirmed. Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride Chance It for the first time Saturday.
Chance It will be double-teamed by a pair of Stonehedge-bred and -owned sons of Khozan. Smash Factor is slated to join Liam’s Lucky Charm in the starting gate. The Michael Yates-trained Smash Factor also owns a decision over Chance It, having scored a 1 ½-length victory over the Joseph trainee in their respective debuts on June 1.
Smash Factor hasn’t raced since his debut triumph due to ‘baby’ issues, but has trained well preparing for Saturday’s return to action around two turns. Jesus Rios has the return mount.
Owner Ramiro Rosas Medina and trainer Angel Rodriguez will also be represented by two sons of Khozan in the In Reality, Rebelde and Rosas Way. Rebelde closed from last to finish a distant third in the Affirmed after breaking his maiden by nine lengths on Aug. 2.
“I think he’s going to enjoy the distance,” Rodriguez said. “He’s an easy horse to ride. You can relax him, save ground, and make a run with him.”
Rosas Way closed from seventh to finish third in a Sept. 6 starter optional claiming allowance won by front-running Man With a Plan. Jose Batista has been named on Rebelde, while Marcos Meneses is scheduled to ride Rosas Way.
Arindel will also be represented by a pair of homebred sons of Brethren. Both Juan Alvarado-trained Genghis and Stanley Gold-trained Poe are coming off impressive maiden special weight victories. Genghis launched his career with three second-place finishes, including a runner-up finish in Chance It’s brilliant maiden victory. He came right back to score by 2 ¾ lengths in his most recent start. Poe finished third in his first two starts before breaking through with a two-length maiden victory Aug. 31. Emisael Jaramillo and Jairo Rendon have the return mounts aboard Genghis and Poe, respectively.
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