Thursday, July 7, 2022
HALLANDALE BEACH - Octane has been away from the races for nine months, but the manner in which the Arindel homebred gelding dominated the 2021 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series has been hard to forget.
The Carlos David-trained 3-year-old son of Brethren is scheduled for a long-awaited return to action Saturday in the $75,000 Carry Back at Gulfstream Park, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds. It will be his first start since his dominating victory in the $400,000 FSS In Reality last September.
“He had a great year," David said. "He gave us much joy. We gave him some time off. He was kind of on the small side, so we wanted to give him some time off and let him grow and see what he can do as a 3-year-old. He’s grown. He’s bigger. He’s smarter. He’s done everything right. His last workout was a few days ago and it was awesome. This race has been in our sights for his return.”
Octane set the pace in his June 18, 2021 debut before settling for second behind subsequent multiple-stakes winner Lightening Larry, who most recently won the Gr. III Chick Lang on the Preakness Stakes undercard at Pimlico.
“He was green. He was still trying to figure it out, and after that race he was a different horse,” David said.
The David trainee came right back to capture a five-furlong maiden special weight race a month later before scoring a front-running victory in the $200,000 Affirmed, the seven-furlong second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series.
Octane successfully stretched out around two turns in the In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile final leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series in which he encountered bumping at the start and stiff pace pressure before drawing away in the stretch.
“He’s versatile. I think seven-eighths is perfect for him coming back,” David said.
Arindel will also be represented in the Carry Back by Clapton, a homebred son of Brethren. The Juan Alvarado-trained colt finished off the board in the Curlin Florida Derby on March 26 before capturing an optional claiming allowance on June 11.
Emisael Jaramillo has the return mount aboard Octane, while Edgar Zayas has been named to ride Clapton.
Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. is also represented by two horses in the Carry Back field – David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s King Cab and Glassman Racing LLC’s Klugman. King Cab, a gelded son of Noble Bird, was an easy front-running winner in the seven-furlong Sophomore Stakes for Florida-bred 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs three starts back.
“He kind of ran them off their feet the first part and they couldn’t catch him,” Plesa said.
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King Cab has finished second behind older horses in his two most recent starts at Gulfstream. Last time out, he set the pace before having to settle for second in the Big Drama for Florida-breds behind Willy Boi, who came right back to win last Saturday’s Gr. III Smile Sprint.
King Cab overcame a slow break to capture his Aug. 6 debut going away but finished far behind Octane in the FSS Affirmed in his second race following another slow start. The gelding was sent to the sidelines for five months and came back to register a front-running optional claiming allowance by more than seven lengths. Although he failed to carry his speed in his first and only attempt around two turns a month later, he rebounded with his front-running score at Tampa Bay Downs.
“He’s a horse that’s got a lot of speed," Plesa said. "He’s still learning how to run. I’m working with him to try to get him to relax a little bit more. He’s had problems switching leads down the lane. He’s never learned to switch leads down the lane. I’m hopeful he might. He switches leads in the morning.”
Klugman, who won two of his first four career starts in front-running fashion, is coming off a third-place finish in his Tapeta debut in the June 11 Not Surprising.
“He’s a horse that’s an up and comer. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him,” Plesa said. “I ran him in the stake on the [all-weather] and he didn’t like it. He finished third but someone had to finish third, that’s how I look at it.”
Prior to his stakes placing, the son of Practical Joke scored a four-length victory in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream.
Kevin Krigger is scheduled to ride King Cab for the first time Saturday, while Edgar Perez has been named on Klugman.
Miracle’s International Trading's Strike Hard is the most battle-tested entrant in the Carry Back. The son of Flashback has won three starts in 10-race career, in which he has run in three graded stakes, including the Curlin Florida Derby. After finishing seventh in Gulfstream’s premier Triple Crown prep, Strike Hard captured a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream and finished fifth in the Texas Derby at Lone Star Park.
Junior Alvarado has the call aboard the Matthew Williams trainee.
William and Corinne Heiligbrodt and Spendthrift Farm’s Cattin enters the Carry Back off a mile starter allowance victory that followed a third-place finish behind King Cab in the Sophomore at Tampa. The Ralph Nicks-trained son of Neolithic finished fourth and third behind Octane in the Affirmed and In Reality, respectively, before closing out his juvenile campaign with a victory in the six-furlong Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs.
Miguel Vasquez is scheduled to ride Cattin for the first time.
Amy E. Dunne’s Reddington, who graduated by 10 ½ lengths in his fifth career start last time out; and Carrie Brogden and Little Red Feather Racing’s Steel Sunshine, a starter allowance winner in his most recent start; round out the field.
Racing resumes Friday with a 2:55 p.m. first race post and a $125,000 gross jackpot carryover in the Rainbow 6.