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Bernie's Blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Rainbow 6 pool expected to reach $200,000 . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is expected to grow to an estimated $200,000 Friday at Gulfstream Park, where the multi-race wager went unsolved Sunday for the sixth day following a June 30 mandatory payout.

    Friday’s sequence will span Races 4-9, featuring a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds on turf. Robert and Lawanna Low’s Quester, who provided trainer Heather Smullen with her first career winner May 30, returns in the Race 8 feature with Edgard Zayas up.

    Friday’s program will be kicked off by the first two-turn turf race of the year for 2-year-old fillies. A field of 11 has been assembled for the 7 ½-furlong maiden special weight event, including Live Oak Plantation’s debuting Souper Zonda, a daughter of Curlin who is trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse. Ken Ramsey’s Ramsey Pond, a Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained daughter of Divisidero, is also scheduled to make her debut.

    Notes: Vegso Racing Stable’s Lord Miles, the 2023 Wood Memorial winner, breezed five furlongs in 1:00:03  Sunday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in Saturday’s $75,000 Tackleberry, a mile overnight handicap for 3-year-olds and up. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 4-year-old son of Curlin will be making his third start off a long layoff while facing nine rivals, including Joseph stablemate Positive Review, who is coming off a victory in the Wildcat Red Handicap.


Tuesday, July 16, 2024
Three Echoes finished 3rd . . .

    R and H Stable’s Mo Plex (Complexity – Mo Joy) is two for two and a graded stakes-winner after a front-running one length victory in Saturday’s $175,000, Gr. III Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, with fellow OBS graduate Three Echoes (Echo Town – Bayou Miss) finishing third.

    A 10-length winner in his debut at Aqueduct in June, Mo Plex has earned $137,500 for trainer Jeremiah C. Englehart. After breezing an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5 at the 2024 OBS Spring Sale he was purchased for $45,000 out of the Hoppel consignment.   

    Resolute Racing’s Lucky Jeremy (Lookin At Lucky – Powder N Blush) set the pace in Saturday’s $150,000 Caesars Handicap at Horseshoe Indianapolis, was challenged by fellow OBS graduate Beyond Stoked (Into Mischief – Miss Southern Miss) in the stretch and was best by half a length at the wire. That’s two stakes victories for the 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky, trained by Mike Maker, now 8-3-0-1 with $271,980 in earnings. At the 2023 OBS June Sale, he 

Friday, July 12, 2024
He has 14 victories in last 4 days . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Edgard Zayas, who entered today’s program at Gulfstream Park on a streak of three four-win days, added another two wins to his Royal Palm Meet-leading total.

    The 31-year-old rider, who has been riding first call for leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., has accumulated 86 victories at Gulfstream since April 1 to open up a lead of 31 wins in the jockey standings over Emisael Jaramillo.

    Zayas started with a winning ride aboard Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Zio Lorenzo ($4.40) in Race 2 and came right back to score aboard Pablo Torres-trained I’m Still Brave ($3.20) in Race 3.

    “I’m getting the right lineup of horses and all the support from the owners and trainers and my agent,” said Zayas, who has ridden more than 2300 winners during his career while based in South Florida. “Saffie has been a big help. I’ve been winning for a lot of people, but mostly for him. I’m blessed to have that barn, for sure.”

    Zayas has been riding in a zone, making the right decisions at the right time on the right horses. “Once you get the momentum, you ride with that confidence, and I definitely think the horses feel that confidence,’ Zayas said.

    Taking advantage of his burgeoning success, Zayas has 10 mounts on Saturday’s 11-race program, including six morning-line favorites, most notably R Harper Rose in the $95,000 Azalea in the Race 10 feature.

    The Rio Grande, Puerto Rico native, who began his riding career at Calder Race Course in 2012, was taken under Hall of Famer rider Angel Cordero’s wing during Gulfstream’s 2012-2013 Championship Meet. Cordero imparted his knowledge on Zayas during the morning hours, and his student went on to become an Eclipse Award finalist in 2013.

 

Sunday, July 7, 2024
Wins by a head, at 8-1 . . .

     HALLANDALE BEACH - Trainer Rohan Crichton, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Daniel Walters and Dennis Smith’s Real Macho captured his first stakes victory in Friday’s $95,000 Carry Back at Gulfstream Park by holding off a late rally by heavily favored Catalytic, who was making his first start in the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds since running in the Kentucky Derby.

    Real Macho ($18.20), who won by a head, was re-equipped with blinkers for his first start since finishing fourth in the May 8 Sir Barton under Flavien Prat at Pimlico.

    “When he ran on Preakness Day, Flavien said he was just gazing. We had the blinkers on him before and he won. Then we took them off and he won, but he was getting distracted, so we put them back on,” Crichton said. “We were going to ship him out of town, but with the heat and the travel arrangements got so convoluted we decided to stay here.”

    Real Macho kept his mind on business in the Carry Back. After settling off a pace contested by Etendre, Saybrook and El Principito for the first half-mile in :45.52 seconds, the son of Mucho Macho Man was sent after the leaders by Emisael Jaramillo on the far turn. Real Macho made a three-wide sweep to the lead heading into the stretch and held on gamely to edge Catalytic, who raced far back in traffic before finding room and his stride under Drayden Van Dyke to close steadily through the stretch.

    Rey.al Macho, who finished fourth in the Gr. II Fountain of Youth and off the board in the Gr. I Curlin Florida Derby during the Championship Meet, ran seven furlongs in 1:23.37 to collect his third win in eight career starts.

    “We’re not sure where we’ll go next. Maybe we’ll stay one turn, a mile or something like,” Crichton said.

    Catalytic, who earned his way in the Kentucky Derby with a distant second-place finish behind Fierceness in the Florida Derby, finished 4 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Roar Read.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Wins $95,000 Powder Break . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Four days after coming up a little short of earning a trip to the winner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot, jockey Emisael Jaramillo found the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park Sunday after guiding Beth’s Dream to a dominating front-running victory in the $95,000 Powder Break.

   Jaramillo showed the way aboard Gabaldon in Wednesday’s Windsor Castle Stakes during Great Britain’s most prestigious meeting, before Gulfstream’s Royal Palm Juvenile winner came up just short to finish second behind Ain’t Nobody.

   There would be no catching Beth’s Dream, the 3-5 favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares assembled for the mile overnight handicap. The 6-year-old daughter of Jess’s Dream, who received one pound from 124-pound high-weight Maryquitecontrary, went right to the lead to set fractions of :24.62 and :47.28 for the first half mile. The Victor Barboza Jr.-trained Florida-bred mare was never threatened thereafter while drawing away to win by 2 ¾ lengths. The second and third finishers are by First Dude. 

    “It was pretty easy. The filly was so good. She broke, and that was it,” said Jaramillo, who admitted to still having a touch of jetlag from his adventure to Royal Ascot.

    Beth’s Dream, who won her eighth race from 15 career starts, ran a mile in 1:36.35 without need of encouragement from Jaramillo. Charlies Wish finished second, while Maryquitecontrary, the 2-1 second choice ridden by Edgard Zayas, finishedthird, another 4 ½ lengths back, while never posing a serious threat.


Monday, June 17, 2024
Win Win Win filly romps in debut at Santa Anita . . .

    The honor of getting the first winner by a 2024 Florida freshman sire goes to Ocala Stud Farm's Win Win Win, whose 2-year-old filly, Nooni, annihilated four rivals in a $54,000 maiden special at Santa Anita.

    The Bob Baffert trainee was a $1.8 million purchase for Zedan Racing out of the OBS March sale, consigned by Ocala Stud and the O'Farrell family. 

    Juan Hernandez was aboard the filly, who was sent off at 1/5 based on her morning trials at Santa Anita, which included three of the bullet variety. He shot Nooni out of the gate in the race at 5 1/2 furlongs, and she passed the poles in :22.07 and :45.44, while opening up by six lengths. Through the stretch, announcer Frank Miramahdi blared, "Welcome to the racing world, Nooni," as she cruised to the wire in front by 9 1/2 lengths, clocked in :58.21.

    She paid $2.40, earned an Equibase speed figure of 92, exceptionally high for a debuting 2-year-old, and collected a check of $32,400 for Zedan Racing. 

  

Saturday, June 15, 2024
Silks simulcast room and casino will remain open . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Out of an abundance of caution, Gulfstream Park has cancelled today’s program for the third straight day due to the heavy rain in the South Florida area.

    Training will resume this morning, and the $95,000 Powder Break and $75,000 Wildcat Red, scheduled for today, will be brought back next weekend. The mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6, also scheduled for today, will also be rescheduled to a later date.

    The Silks Simulcast Room and Gulfstream Casino were open Friday and will remain open throughout the weekend.
Friday, June 14, 2024
At Santa Anita and Churchill Downs . . .

    Zedan Racing Stables’ Nooni (Win Win Win – Unanimity) was awarded TDN Rising Star status after her debut at Santa Anita, bouncing to the front in a maiden special and coasting to an effortless 9-1/2 length victory. She’s trained by Bob Baffert and picked up $32,400 for her effort.

    Consigned to the 2024 OBS March Sale, she sped an Under Tack quarter in a track-record-equaling :20 1/5 before going to Donato Lanni, Agent for Zedan Racing, for a sale-topping $1.8 million.   

    Wathnan Racing’s Spiralizer (Twirling Candy – Jotown) scored a front-running two-length victory in his maiden special debut at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen, earning $42,000. The 2-year-old son of Twirling Candy was purchased at the 2024 March Sale for $550,000 out of the Eddie Woods consignment after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Mandatory payout set for Saturday . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is expected to swell to an estimated $525,000 Thursday at Gulfstream Park. The multi-race wager went unsolved for the 20th day Sunday.

    A mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 is scheduled for Saturday.

    Thursday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 3-8, featuring a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares on Turf. Trainer Steve Dwoskin’s Choose Joy, a multiple-stakes winner who has finished in the money in 17 of 24 career starts, tops a field of seven in Race 7.

Gulfstream Horses Have Big Weekend at Saratoga

     Several horses who wintered in South Florida and raced at Gulfstream Park celebrated big victories at Saratoga during Belmont Stakes weekend. No win was bigger than Dornoch’s in the $2 Belmont Stakes. The colt began his 3-year-old season at Gulfstream with a victory in the Gr. II Coolmore Fountain of Youth. He becomes the first Fountain of Youth winner to win the Belmont since Union Rags in 2012.   

     Horses from the Pegasus World Cup also delivered during the weekend.


    Pegasus World Cup winner National Treasure won the Gr. I Metropolitan Handicap and Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Didia won the Gr. I New York Stakes. Crupi, third in the Pegasus World Cup, won the Gr. I Suburban while Chili Flag, sixth in the Filly and Mare Turf, was victorious in the Gr. I Just a Game
.

Van Dyke Enjoys Five-Win Weekend 

   Drayden Van Dyke enjoyed a most successful first weekend of riding, finding the winner’s circle on five of nine mounts, all of whom are trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. The 29-year-old jockey, who switched his tack from Santa Anita for a 30-day trial run at Gulfstream, won aboard his only mount Friday before winning on two of four mounts Saturday. On Sunday, he won with Novo Sol ($20.60) in Race 2 and Practically Dark ($4.20) in Race 8.

    Van Dyke, the 2014 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice, ventures to Gulfstream with an extensive resume, including 67 graded stakes victories. He rode Stormy Liberal to victory in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He also notched Grade 1 wins in the 2017 Malibu and 2018 Triple Bend aboard City of Light, who went on to win the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Invitational at with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard. 

    Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode two winners from four starters in a recent two-day stint before returning to Southern California, is named to ride two horses Thursday, two more Friday and five Saturday at Gulfstream.

Sunday, June 9, 2024
OBS grads finish 1-2 in Gr. I at the Spa . . .

    Clark O. Brewster, L. William Heiligbrodt and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cogburn (Not This Time – In A Jif) went straight to lead in the $500,000, Gr. I Jaipur Stakes at Saratoga and never looked back, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths in a course record :59 4/5 for 5 1/2 furlongs, with fellow OBS graduate Arzak (Not This Time – Delightful Melody) closing for second.

    The 5-year-old son of Not This Time, trained by Steve Asmussen, has compiled a 14-8-2-0 career record, become the newest OBS millionaire with $1,237,730 in earnings and earned a berth in the starting gate in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in the fall. At the 2021 OBS Spring Sale, he was purchased for $150,000 out of the Pick View consignment after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :20 3/5. 

Friday, June 7, 2024
Will ride for 30 days . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Southern California-based jockey Drayden Van Dyke has answered trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.’s call and will switch his tack to Gulfstream Park for a 30-day stint. The 29-year-old jockey has one call Friday, four Saturday and another four Sunday, all for Gulfstream’s leading trainer.

    “Saffie and I have a relationship from about five years back when he had some horses for Slam Dunk Racing,” said Van Dyke’s agent Ryan Cosato, the son of Slam Dunk Racing’s managing partner Nick Cosato. “I worked for Slam Dunk Racing for about seven years out of college and I’ve been an agent for a year starting last August. Saffie reached out to me about two weeks ago and asked me if I still had Drayden’s book. He said he wanted to help and wanted to bring him out there.”

    Van Dyke took a self-imposed break from riding for three months last fall before returning to action in January at Santa Anita, where he has ridden two winners and 13 second-place finishers from 57 mounts.

    “I’ve never paid too close attention. I know what he’s accomplished, obviously. It just seems like he’s not doing any good out there. When it gets like that, you need a change,” Joseph said. “If I can help someone get their career going, why not help someone get going?”


    Van Dyke, the 2014 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice, ventures to Gulfstream with an extensive resume, including 67 graded-stakes victories. He rode Stormy Liberal to victory in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). He also notched Grade 1 wins in the 2017 Malibu (G1) and 2018 Triple Bend (G1) aboard City of Light, who went on to win the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard. In 2020, he rode Improbable for victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and Awesome Again (G1).

    “We’ll bring him out there for about a month. If he does well, we’ll go from there. There’s no big announcement. We’re just giving it a try,” Cosato said.

    Van Dyke is named to ride Joseph-trained Southern Palace in Race 3 on Friday’s program. The 3-year-old daughter of Palace Malice will be making her debut in the mile-and-70-yard maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies on Tapeta.
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Quester wins 7th race . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Heather Smullen has developed an extensive resume during her racing career. She can now add ‘winning trainer’ to her list of accomplishments.

    Smullen saddled her first winner as a head trainer today at Gulfstream Park, where Quester put her in the winner’s circle following a length victory in the Race 7 feature, a mile optional claiming allowance on turf for Florida-bred 3-year-olds and up. Robert and Lawana Low’s Quester, a 3-year-old son of Into Mischief, was Smullen’s fourth starter since she went out on her own in April.

    “It feels great. I’ve been really lucky. I have a lot of owners and managers and people who have supported me over the years. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to have nice horses,” she said.

    Smullen was the regular exercise rider for 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and 2-year-old filly champion Caledonia Road while working as an assistant for trainer Ralph Nicks. She also was the regular work rider for 2020 Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Travers winner Tiz the Law
.

    Smullen’s exercise riding career came to an end following an accident on Labor Day morning at Saratoga in 2022 that left her with a broken fibula and tibia in her right leg. She has served at Gulfstream Park as an assistant for Arindel Farms, as well as for trainers Dale Romans and Phil Serpe over the past several years.

“I’ve worked as an assistant for about 20 years,” said Smullen, a niece of Tagg’s assistant trainer Robin Smullen. “I’ve been lucky to have been around good horses.” She currently has a stable of 12 horses at Gulfstream and is looking to add more.

Sunday, May 26, 2024
Scores by 6 lengths . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH -  Arindel’s Octane asserted his class in Saturday’s $100,000 Big Drama Handicap at Gulfstream Park, where the graded stakes-winning millionaire carried high-weight of 124 pounds to an overpowering 6 ¼-length victory.

    The Big Drama, a seven-furlong handicap for 3-year-olds and up, co-headlined an 11-race program with the $95,000 Mr. Steele, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up on turf.

     Octane, the 4-5 favorite in a field of six, captured the 1 1/16-mile, Gr. III Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park two starts back. The 5-year-old gelded son of Brethren’s performance Saturday was hardly negatively impacted by Saturday’s cutback to seven furlongs around one turn.

    Octane broke on top before jockey Emisael Jaramillo opted to let speedster Vivir Con Alegria show the way along the backstretch and into the far turn. After pressing fractions of :22.61 and :45.51 seconds for a half-mile, the Arindel homebred took the lead midway on the turn without need of encouragement from Jaramillo. The Florida-bred gelding, who conceded between four and six pounds to his rivals, took complete control of the Big Drama the rest of the way.

    “He broke very well. I wasn’t surprised because he has so much talent, but I was a little surprised about how fast he went to the lead because he was coming from longer races,” Jaramillo said. “I could have won wire-to-wire, but I knew there was a horse (Vivir Con Alegria) with a lot of speed inside, so I just waited.”

    Octane, who finished off-the-board in the 1 1/8-mile, Gr. II Oaklawn Park Handicap in his prior start, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.33 while winning for the ninth time in 20 career starts. Loco Abarrio, who saved ground while tracking the pace, finished second, a neck ahead of Shaq Diesel.

    Jaramillo hadn’t ridden Octane since scoring a front-running victory in a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream in April 2023, but he has a long history with the Juan Alvarado trainee. Jaramillo, who was Venezuela’s winningest jockey of all time before venturing to South Florida in 2015, guided Octane to a maiden score in his second career start in 2021 before coming right back to capture the last two legs of the Florida Sire Stakes series, the $200,000 Affirmed at seven furlongs and the $400,000 In Reality at 1 1/16 miles. Octane has earned $1,101,640 on a record of 9-4-1 in 20 starts.

Win for The Money Gets the Money 

    Live Oak Plantation’s Win for the Money got the money while proving much the best in the $95,000 Mr. Steele. The 3-2 favorite took advantage of a perfect setup to begin his 2024 season with a 6 ¾-length victory under Edwin Gonzalez – with an assist from his Mark Casse stablemate Eyes On the King.

    Main Event, who registered a front-running victory in theGr. II Fort Lauderdale during the Championship Meet, broke well from the starting gate but was denied the early lead in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up by Eyes On the King, who was hustled to the front by Jaramillo. Eyes On the King showed the way around the first turn and on the backstretch, chased closely by Main Event. Win for the Money settled nicely in third following fractions of :22.58 and :46.50 seconds for the first half mile.

    As Eyes On the King and Main Event began to tire from their early efforts, Win for the Money swept to the lead on the turn into the homestretch and drew off to win convincingly.


    “Honestly, we don’t give instructions. It’s more of how they break and go from there,” Casse’s long-time assistant trainer Nick Tomlinson said. “Obviously, the race set up really nice for this horse. He’d been training extremely well, and he showed it today.”

    Win for the Money ran 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf in 1:38.51. Eldon’s Prince closed from last to finish second, a half-length ahead of Me and Mr. C. Main Event finished fourth, while Eyes On the King faded to last in the eight-horse field.

    Win for the Money flirted with graded stakes success in his final two starts of 2023 while finishing second in the Gr. II Autumn and third in the Gr. III Valedictory at Woodbine.

Friday, May 24, 2024
Co-headlines with $100,000 Big Drama . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Mark Casse looks doubly tough to beat in Saturday’s $95,000 Mr. Steele, in which the Hall of Fame trainer will be represented by a multiple graded stakes-placed veteran campaigner and a maturing in-form 4-year-old colt.

    The Mr. Steele, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up, will co-headline Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Big Drama, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up.

    Win for the Money will make his 2024 debut after finishing his 2023 campaign with a second-place finish in the Autumn (G2) and a third-place finish in the Valedictory (G3) over Woodbine’s Tapeta course. The 5-year-old gelded son of Mohaymen, who is owned by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation, started twice at Gulfstream last year, losing a photo finish over the Tapeta Course before winning an optional claiming allowance on turf. He went on to win an optional claiming allowance and finish fifth in the Arlington Million (G1) at Colonial Downs before closing out his season at Woodbine.

    “Mrs. Weber likes to give her horses time. We just gave him some time,” Casse said. “He ran very hard in the Valedictory and he ran well in the Autumn. His race in the Arlington Million was pretty good, I thought. Our thoughts were to give him a little break and bring him back fresh. This is a way to stay in Florida and get a race into him.”

    M Racing Group LLC’s Eyes On the King, multiple stakes-placed at 3, has made a strong impression this year in three starts at Tampa Bay Downs, where the son of Street Sense lost a photo before scoring back-to-back optional claiming allowances on turf.

    “His races over at Tampa were very good. He’s a beautiful horse on the cusp of showing us that he’s a really good horse,” Casse said. “This will be a big challenge that he’ll partake in.”

    Edwin Gonzalez is scheduled to ride Win for the Money for the first time, while Emisael Jaramillo will get reacquainted with Eyes On the King.Harrell Ventures’s Main Event is expected to be involved in the early pace Saturday while trying to duplicate a front-running victory in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Dec. 30.  The 5-year-old son of Bernardini, who went on to finish off the board in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and Mac Diarmida (G2), is set to make his first start for trainer Fernando Abreu. Edgard Zayas has the call on Main Event.

    Me and Mr. C, a three-time stakes winner on turf and Tapeta last season, will seek to recapture his winning form in the Mr. Steele for trainer Michael Maker. Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s 7-year-old gelding is coming off a third-place finish in the Turf Classic for Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs. Hector Diaz Jr. is slated to ride Me and Mr. C for the first time Saturday.

    Gentry Farm’s Eldon’s Prince, a multiple-stakes winner on Gulfstream turf; Rachid Racing LLC’s Marwad, who seeks relief following three straight graded-stakes appearances; in addition to Gods Glory Stables and Matthew Ciamei’s Love Me Not and Abel Rangel’s Benvolio, a pair of last-out optional claiming allowance winners; round out the field. 

Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Estimated at $225,00

    The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is expected to grow to an estimated $225,000 Friday at Gulfstream Park.  The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, featuring a seemingly wide-open five-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up on turf in Race 8, followed by a five-furlong maiden special weight race on Tapeta for 3-year-olds and up.

    Amador Sanchez-trained Abrir Caminos, a multiple stakes-winning Chilean-bred 4-year-old, is scheduled to make his U.S. debut while facing eight rivals, including Joe Orseno-trained Portofino, the 8-5 morning-line favorite who lost his last in a photo finish.

    Morplay Racing, Rosedown Racing Stables and Kerri Radcliffe’s Urban Legend will make his first start for trainer Jose D’Angelo while making his 2024 debut. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief, who was purchased for $1.3 million at the 2023 OBS April sale, made three starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bab Baffert in Southern California, including a pair of runner-up finishes. One of those was behind undefeated Nysos.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Super Chow gets third graded stakes win . . .
    Lea Farms’s Super Chow (Lord Nelson – Bonita Mia) shot right to the lead in Saturday’s $100,000, Gr. III Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico and was never headed, cruising to victory by a length and three quarters. It’s the third graded stakes win for the 4-year-old colt by Lord Nelson, purchased for $75,000 out of the Eisaman Equine consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an eighth in :10 flat at the Under Tack Show. Trained by Jorge Delgado, he has compiled a 19-9-4-5 career record and earned $782,900. 

    Tameem Binhamad KH. H. Al-Thani’s Crimson Advocate (Nyquist – Citizen Advocate) earned a trip to Ascot at two with a victory in Gulfstream’s Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies Stakes and won the Gr. II Queen Mary Stakes. She made her 3-year-old debut on Saturday against the boys in Gulfstream’s $81,000 Roar Stakes and scored by a length, with fellow OBS graduate Sir Flash (Not This Time – Meadow Bride) checking in third. George Weaver trains the daughter of Nyquist, purchased for $100,000 out of the Beth Bayer consignment at the 2022 OBS October Selected Yearling Sale.  She now boasts a 5-3-0-1 record has earned $202,147.       

    Gary Barber’s Witwatersrand (Connect – Carta deOro), last of five early in Woodbine’s $120,000 Ruling Angel Stakes, swung out for the drive, collared the leaders a furlong from home, blew right on by and was best by four lengths. It’s the second stakes victory for the 3-year-old graded stakes-winning filly by Connect, consigned by White Lilac (Katie Miranda), Agent, to the 2023 OBS March Sale, where she went through the ring after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5. Now 6-3-0-1 for trainer Mark Casse, she has earned $152,360.  

    Randy Howg, John Holleman, Norman Tremblay, Surging Sky Ventures, Brian McGinnis and Selman Shaby’s Mr Fillip (Mitole – Filibustin), just off the pace early in Saturday’s $50,000 Golden Circle Stakes at Prairie Meadows, took over turning for home and romped away to win by 13 1/4 lengths. Fellow OBS graduate Desperate Man (Practical Joke – Tap Tap Taparoo) set the pace and settled for third. It’s the first stakes win for the 3-year-old son of champion OBS graduate Mitole, purchased for $300,000 out of the Oak Creek Thoroughbreds consignment at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Trained by Matt Williams, he’s now 5-2-1-1 and has earned $137,075.  

    Hong Kyung Pyo’s Ssonsal (Adios Charlie–Wink At the Boys) became the latest OBS millionaire after leading a 1-2-3 OBS sweep of the $516,740 Chairman’s Cup Sprint Stakes (G2-KOR) at Seoul on Sunday. He was best by a neck over 7-year-old 2019 OBS June graduate Eoma Eoma (Algorithms-Lignite), with 9-year-old 2017 OBS Spring graduate Morfhis (Stephen Got Even – Chinchilla), a length back in third. The 8-year-old Florida-bred son of Adios Charlie, now 39-14-5-5 with earnings of $1,096,212, was purchased for $8,500 out of the T-Square Stud consignment at the 2017 October Yearling Sale.
Sunday, May 12, 2024
McPeek says it's a go . . .

    BALTIMORE - Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan will run in the 149th Preakness Stakes on May 18 at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, trainer Kenny McPeek announced Saturday morning. “All systems go,” McPeek said. “He’ll ship out in the morning.”

    Mystik Dan had a routine 1 1/2-mile gallop at Churchill Downs under retired jockey Robby Albarado, who will be part of the Derby winner’s travel team to Baltimore, much as he was in 2020 when he rode the filly Swiss Skydiver to victory for McPeek. The difference this time is that Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Mystik Dan in his races.

    Mystik Dan underwent an endoscopic exam and had bloodwork analyzed just to ensure everything was normal. When everything came back clean, McPeek confirmed everything was a go for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

     “The horse is doing fantastic,” he said after Mystik Dan trained. “I’ve already kind of arranged the logistics of it all.”

    Mystik Dan will get a rematch in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness with Arkansas Derby winner Muth. Mystik Dan finished third that day, his first race in seven weeks after he was a romping winner of Oaklawn Park’s Gr. III Southwest Stakes in the slop.

    “He was ready for the Arkansas Derby,” McPeek said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse. But he did get turned sideways in that turn, and Brian felt that cost him three or four lengths. But the horse fought back, fortunately…. I’m optimistic we can give (Muth) another run.

Sunday, May 12, 2024
Gabaldon gives Gone Astray first Florida stallion with a 2yo stakes-winner this season . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - D. J. Stable’s Bullet gave Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse a return trip to Royal Ascot, closing from far back to capture the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

    Soldi Stable’s Gabaldon earned trainer Jose D’Angelo his first visit to Great Britain’s most prestigious meeting two races later while registering a front-running triumph in the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile.

    The Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five-furlong turf test for 2-year-old fillies, co-headlined a 10-race program with the Royal Palm Juvenile, a five-furlong turf race for all 2-year-olds. The winners of both races earned automatic berths in one of six stakes during the Royal Ascot meet that runs June 18 through June 24, as well as $25,000 travel stipends.

    Emisael Jaramillo rode both winners.

    Casse-trained Bullet broke slowly from the starting gate to race far behind a strong early pace, set by first-time starter You Need Me, a 44-1 shot ridden by Leonel Reyes, and pressed by Unchained Elaine on the outside with 8-5 favorite Perfect Shances chasing along the rail. You Need Me shook off all challenges to take her lead into the stretch, where she was able to repel a bid by Casse-trained My Emmy. But the David Braddy-trained daughter of St. Patrick’s Day was no match for the impressive late surge by Bullet, who made a wide sweep on the turn before kicking in through the stretch.

    “The crazy thing is she usually breaks like a shot. I used a few choice words when she broke,” said Casse, who watched from his Ocala home. “It’s one thing to break bad. It’s another thing when you break bad and circle everyone in the field. You’ll have a tough time finding a more impressive race than the one she gave us.”

    Bullet, a daughter of War Front who was saddled by longtime Casse assistant Nick Tomlinson, scored by 2 ¼ lengths, completing five furlongs in :56.80 seconds while closing off fractions of :22.01 and :44.84.

    Casse had a most enjoyable first visit to Royal Ascot, where he saddled champion Tepin for a victory over the boys in the 2016, Gr. I Queen Anne Stakes.

    “My wife describes it the best. She said Royal Ascot is like the Kentucky Derby on steroids,” Casse said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. The prestige. We got to meet the Queen, which was very special for us.”

    D’Angelo-trained Gabaldon ($35.00) was making his debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile following a series of strong workouts that included a sharp half-mile breeze over the turf course at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training center in Palm Beach County. Unlike Bullet, Gabaldon broke like a bullet to grab an early lead, challenged on his outside by Governor Sam along the backstretch. After shaking his early challenge, the son of Gone Astray opened a clear lead at the top of the stretch on his way to a 1 ¼-length victory. He completed five furlongs in :56.20 seconds after putting up fractions of :21.33 and :43.80.

    “The horse showed class from the first day. He’s never missed a workout,” D’Angelo said. “We were looking for a horse to run in this race. Now, we are looking for a [top) hat.” Reach for the Rose rallied along the rail to finish second, a neck ahead of Bright Skittle and Casse-trained Garden of War, who finished in a dead-heat for third.

    Last year, trainer George Weaver was unable to repeat his amazing accomplishment during the inaugural 2023 Royal Palm Series. He saddled Crimson Advocate for a victory in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies and No Nay Mets for a win in the Royal Palm Juvenile, and Crimson Advocate went on to beat 25 fillies in the Gr. II Queen Mary (G2), but No Nay Mets finished off the board in the Gr. II Norfolk.
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Nolan Ramsey wins with Marshamarshamarsha . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Nolan Ramsey, the longtime assistant to trainer Michael Maker before going out on his own in April, saddled his first winner as a trainer Friday at Gulfstream Park.

    The 27-year-old Lexington native notched his first victory with Marshamarshamarsha ($5), who is owned by his grandfather, Ken Ramsey, the longtime owner who won four Eclipse Awards as North America’s outstanding owners with his late wife Sarah and was the leading owner during the 2023-2024 Championship Meet.

    Marshamarshamarsha, Ramsey’s fifth starter, stalked the early pace while saving ground before making a three-wide sweep on the turn into the homestretch on her way to a decisive score in Race 5, a mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies racing for a $16,000 claiming price.

   “It’s special. It’s the first one. It’s great to get off the duck. It’s nice doing it for family too,” said Ramsey, who was doused with water by a stable employee in celebration. “I wouldn’t be here without him (Ken Ramsey). My love for the horses and horseracing all came from him. I remember watching the races when I was 5 or 6. He taught me how to handicap and started bringing me around the horses. Without my grandparents I wouldn’t be here. To get where I’ve been and being able to knock off the first one for the family, that’s really special.”

   Ramsey started walking hots for Maker when he was 14 years old. “I was hands-on with them, and I really fell in love with the racetrack. The action and the speed of it really drew me in. It was full-blown from there on,” said Ramsey, who has assembled a 30-horse stable at Gulfstream with plans to train a small string in the Mid-Atlantic.

    “I was very grateful to work for Mike,” he added. “The thing about Mike is he has all the horses. He has the Grade 1s; he’s got the starter allowances; he’s got the ‘nickel’ claimers."

Friday, May 10, 2024
Despite disastrous outage for Tampa Bay Derby . . .

    OLDSMAR - Before the 2023-2024 meet, Tampa Bay Downs received a $5.5-million allocation from the state of Florida for purses and operations. Officials earmarked 90 percent for overnight purses, enabling the track to lure its strongest roster of trainers, jockeys and horses in recent memory.

    The public responded in kind to the upsurge in quality by wagering $361,483,261, a 2.4-percent increase from 2022-2023. The average daily handle rose to $4,016,481.

    Additional increases in both the number of starters and average starters per race helped stamp the 2023-2024 Tampa Bay Downs racing season, which ended Saturday, a major success.

    But an unseasonably wet winter and early spring, coupled with the loss of an estimated $5-million in handle on March 9 when a communications outage led to the tote system shutting down and the Gr. III Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby being declared a non-wagering event, left track Vice President & General Manager Peter Berube pondering “what might have been.”

    “The events of March 9 were unprecedented in our experience, and steps have been taken to assure they will not happen again here or hopefully anywhere else,” Berube said.

    “It’s a reflection of our popularity as a major winter track that we were able to post gains in wagering and other key categories in spite of not being able to accept wagers on our biggest race of the season.”

    The estimated wagering handle lost on March 9 would have resulted in Tampa Bay Downs being up about $14-million (3.8-percent) from the previous year.

    Berube said weather – specifically, the El Niño pattern that caused higher-than-average precipitation and cooler temperatures throughout much of the winter and early spring – also prevented Tampa Bay Downs from posting larger gains during the 90-day meet.

    Although the number of starters at the meet rose 9.56-percent (from 6,190 in 2022-2023 to 6,782) and the average starters per race went up 9.03-percent (from 7.58 to 8.26), more rain than normal caused the number of turf races to decline by 10.47-percent, from 277 to 248.

    “The popularity of our turf program leads to bigger fields and more wagering opportunities for our customers,” Berube said. “Weather is always a variable in winter and early spring, but it seemed like Mother Nature worked against us more than usual.”

    Fueled by the boosts to maiden special weight and higher-level allowance race purses, Tampa Bay Downs paid out $21,898,640 in purses, 26-percent more than a season ago. Overnight purses climbed from $155,596 a day to $211,535, a 35.95-percent rise.

    On-track attendance decreased less than 1-percent, to 243,526, and on-track handle fell less than 1-percent, to $15,917,768.

    “The main takeaways are that we improved in most major categories and that the overnight purse increases will remain in effect next season,” Berube said. “With the competition for wagering and recreational dollars growing more and more intense, we’re confident we have established a firm foothold both locally and throughout the simulcast market that will enable us to keep moving upward.”

    The 2024-2025 meet is expected to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Monday, May 6, 2024
16 stakes on tap . . .

    BALTIMORE – For an eighth straight year, the Maryland Jockey Club is offering bonus money totaling $100,000 to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in the 15 stakes races during Preakness weekend, May 17 and 18, at Pimlico Race Course.

    The blockbuster weekend includes a total of 16 stakes, nine graded, worth $4.4 million in purses. The trainer with the most points will receive $50,000, second is worth $25,000, third $12,000, fourth $7,000, fifth $4,000 and sixth $2,000.

    Points are accumulated for finishing first (10 points), second (seven), third (five), fourth (three) and having a starter (one) in the 15 horoughbred stakes, led by the 149th running of the $2 million Preakness Stakes, Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 18. Trainers must have a minimum of five starts to qualify for the bonus.

    Other graded events on Preakness Day are the $500,000 Dinner Party (G3) for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Gallorette (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and older at 1 1/16 miles, each on turf, and the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) for 3-year-olds and up, both at six furlongs; and $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for older Arabian horses on the main track. The UAE President Cup is not part of the bonus.

    Supporting Preakness undercard stakes are the $100,000 Sir Barton for 3-year-old non-winners of a sweepstakes going 1 1/16 miles and $100,000 Skipat for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs, both on dirt, along with the $100,000 James W. Murphy for 3-year-olds going one mile and $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at five furlongs, each on the grass.

    Preakness Eve, May 17, will be highlighted by the 100th running of the $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles and two supporting graded-stakes – the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up going 1 3/16 miles and $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs.

    The Black-Eyed Susan undercard also includes the $100,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff for fillies and mares 3 and older going 1 1/8 miles on the dirt as well as the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies going one mile and $100,000 The Very One for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting five furlongs, both on the turf.

    Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen has been the leading Preakness weekend stakes trainer four times in its first seven years, earning the top bonus in 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022. Brad Cox (2019), Mike Maker (2020) and Maryland-based Graham Motion (2023) have also won the top prize.

    Nominations are free for all stakes, with the exception of the Preakness, and close Tuesday, May 7. To make a nomination, email stakes coordinator Eleanor Albert at [email protected] or call 800-638-1859.

    There will also be bonus money totaling $50,000 for trainers with the most points in non-stakes races during Preakness weekend. The points are accumulated in similar fashion with $25,000 going to the leader, $10,000 to second, $7,500 to third, $4,000 to fourth, $2,500 to fifth and $1,000 to sixth. Trainers must have a minimum of three starts to qualify for the bonus.

    Entries will be taken and post positions drawn on Sunday, May 12 for the Black-Eyed Susan Day program and Monday, May 13 for the Preakness Day program. The post-position draw for the Preakness will be held at Monarque on Fleet Street in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.

Sunday, May 5, 2024
Skipperini pays $31.60 . . .
    OLDSMAR - For much of his 22-year career, jockey Pedro Cotto Jr. has flown beneath the radar as a journeyman riding around the edges of fame and fortune.

    Given a chance to reach a career milestone in Saturday’s eighth race at Tampa Bay Downs on 5-year-old gelding Skipperini, Cotto responded with a flawless performance worthy of his sport’s top practitioners.

    Cotto kept Skipperini off the pace set by Sandy Lane Kitten in the mile-and-a-sixteenth claiming race on the turf, then took control in the stretch before holding off Initforthelove by a half-length. Skipperini paid $31.60 to win.

    Saturday was the final day of the 2023-2024 Oldsmar meet.

    “There have been ups and downs in my career, but I’m glad I made it,” Cotto said. “I hope I can get another 1,000, but it is what it is. I plan to keep going.” Skipperini, a Florida-bred, is owned by Acclaimed Racing Stable and trained by Darien Rodriguez. “I think it’s great. I’m happy for him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a hard-working guy and he rode this horse perfect.”

    In addition to competing during the afternoons, Cotto has worked as an exercise rider this season for leading trainer Kathleen O’Connell. “Her getting the training title makes this milestone more special to me,” he said. “I’m glad it happened here because this has been my second home,” said Cotto, a 39-year-old product of Carolina, Puerto Rico who is moving his tack to Delaware Park. “My family and friends always tell me I have the ability and the health to keep doing it, and I agree. Working for (O’Connell) has helped me a lot with my fitness and mentally, and I feel on top of my game. Anywhere I go, I feel it’s going to be a good year.” 
Friday, May 3, 2024
Zayas wins five more races on Thursday . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The doors at Silks simulcast facility at Gulfstream Park will open at 9:30 a.m. today and Saturday to accommodate patrons wishing to watch on wager on races from Churchill Downs.

    The Kentucky Oaks will be run on today’s Churchill Downs program and will get underway at 10:30 a.m.  Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Day program will also have a 10:30 a.m. first-race post time.

    Fierceness, who captured the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby at Gulfstream by a record 13 ½ lengths, tops the field of 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby.  Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Power Squeeze will run in the Kentucky Oaks.

    Many other horses that competed during Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet will compete in stakes on both days at Churchill Downs.

    Today’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool at is expected to grow to an estimated $100,000 after going unsolved Thursday for the second day following last Saturday’s mandatory payout. 

    Jockey Edgard Zayas continued to win races in bunches Thursday. Zayas, who rode four winners on Saturday’s program, won another five races Thursday to push his Royal Palm meet-leading victory total to 27.

    Zayas rode back-to-back winners for trainer Joe Orseno, scoring aboard Magic Soul ($7) in Race 3 and Super Spin ($20.80) in Race 4. He also doubled for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. with back-to-back wins aboard Lady O’Brien ($2.60) in Race 6 and Goats On a Tree ($5) in Race 7. He finished his big day with a gate-to-wire score aboard Live High Live Low ($9.40) in Race 8 for trainer George Weaver.

             

Thursday, May 2, 2024
Mystery Bounty tournament offers $500,000 .

    OLDSMAR - The Silks Poker Room at Tampa Bay Downs and TGT Poker & Racebook are rolling out big payouts in May.

    The rooms are collaborating on a $500,000-guaranteed “Mystery Bounty” tournament running through Memorial Day, May 27. Satellite action is already underway at both sites. There is a $400 buy-in, with each entrant receiving a 30,000 starting stack.

    Ten percent of the field makes the money with 8 percent of the tournament field qualifying for Day 2 action, which begins at noon on Sunday, May 26 at The Silks Poker Room with 40-minute levels. Day 3 action begins at 1 p.m. on May 27 at TGT Poker & Racebook and consists of 50-minute levels. Main Event Flights begin at noon on Saturday, May 11, with a series of 30-minute, blind-level events through Saturday, May 25.The top bounty payoff will be $40,000. The tournament is guaranteed to pay out 10 bounties of $5,000 or more, including single bounties of $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000 and two apiece of $7,500, $6,000 and $5,000.

    Lead-up events before the May 11 Main Event launch include Pot-limit Omaha (PLO), TORSE, No-Limits Hold’Em, Seniors, Omaha and Quadruple Stud. The buy-ins for each range from $175-$220.

    Satellite action is ongoing through Saturday, May 23. For details, visit https://www.tampabaydowns.com/poker/tournaments or call (813) 855-4401, extension 149.

Saturday, April 27, 2024
6-time Tampa champ will make Churchill debut . . .

    OLDSMAR - By winning the Suncoast Stakes on Feb. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs and the Gr. II Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30, 3-year-old filly Power Squeeze proved she belongs in next Friday’s $1.5-million Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

    So did her jockey, six-time Tampa Bay Downs riding champion Daniel Centeno.

    Following the 52-year-old Venezuela product’s outstanding performance in the Gulfstream Park Oaks – in which Centeno avoided an early squeeze play going into the first turn after breaking from the No. 1 post position, then timed her power stretch move perfectly to upset 1-2 favorite Ways and Means – owner Bill Cosgrove of Lea Farms and trainer Jorge Delgado agreed they need look no further for their filly’s rider under Churchill’s Twin Spires.
Centeno, who will be making his first-ever appearance at Churchill Downs, is still (figuratively) pinching himself to be sure it’s for real.

    “You never know in this business,” said Centeno, whose previous brush with the classic scene came in 2019 when he rode Alwaysmining to an unplaced finish in the Preakness at Pimlico. “You only have to get the opportunity to ride the right horse and try to keep on her for something like this to happen.

    “When I talked to the owner and he told me he wants me to come to Louisville and ride her again, I said ‘Sure, no problem. I’ll follow her wherever you want me to go.’ The filly and I get along real well, so now we’re going to the Oaks,” Centeno said.

    While Power Squeeze’s credentials are topnotch – she is 4-for-6 in her career, with a four-race winning streak – she is expected to face such standouts as 2023 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Just F Y I, Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes winner Leslie’s Rose, Grade II Fantasy Stakes winner Thorpedo Anna and Ways and Means, along with eight or nine others.

    Despite the imposing lineup, if Power Squeeze can duplicate her Florida form, she should be right in the mix for the garland of pink stargazer lilies awarded to the winner.

    “It’s very exciting,” said Centeno, who plans to fly to Louisville on Thursday with his wife Brooke and his father Enrique. “I’ve ridden a lot of nice horses in my career, and it’s never too late to get another one. I’m blessed and grateful to Jorge and Mr. Cosgrove to be going.”

    Power Squeeze completed the mile-and-a-sixteenth at Gulfstream in 1:44.19. Her winning time of 1:40.22 in the mile-and-40-yard Suncoast, the Oldsmar oval’s “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” prep race, was less than a second off Nest’s stakes record. Nest went on to finish second in the 2022 Longines Kentucky Oaks to Secret Oath. Centeno thinks Power Squeeze, a daughter of Union Rags out of the Awesome Again mare Callmethesqueeze, will welcome the added distance of the mile-and-an-eighth Longines Kentucky Oaks.

“I think the longer she goes, the

Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Wins Gr. II Oaklawn Hcp . . .

    Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking (Exaggerator – Twinkling) passed the $2-million mark in earnings with an authoritative victory in Saturday’s $1,250,000, Gr. II Oaklawn Handicap. Pressing the pace from the start, he went for the lead on the turn, took over in the stretch and eased away to a two-length victory.

    Trained by Saffie A. Joseph Jr., the 4-year-old has posted six graded stakes wins, compiled a 23-8-2-4 career record and earned $2,291,685. At the 2021 OBS Spring Sale, he turned in an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5 and was purchased for $37,000 out of the Top Line Sales consignment.  

    Mellon Patch’s Patriot Spirit (Constitution – Mistical Plan) took the lead shortly after the break in Sunday’s $200,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and never looked back, en route to an effortless 5 3/4-length victory.  It’s the second stakes win for the 3-year-old colt trained by Michael B. Campbell, now 7-3-0-1 with $208,300 in earnings. He was purchased for $80,000 out of the Clary Bloodstock consignment at the 2023 OBS March Sale after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024
OBS hits sale record on Friday . . .

    HIP No. 915, a daughter of Nyquist consigned by Wavertree Stables (Ciaran Dunne) Agent, was sold to Donato Lanni, Agent for Baoma Corp. for $850,000 to top the fourth and final session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2024 Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. The dark bay or brown filly, whose Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5 was the Saturday session’s co-fastest, is out of Amagansett, by Tapit, a daughter of graded stakes-placed stakes winner Twirl (IRE).

    Kimmel & Sallusto, Agent, went to $725,000 for Hip No. 995, a son of McKinzie consigned by Caliente Thoroughbreds, Agent. The bay colt, who breezed a quarter in :21 flat, is out of Bernadreamy, by Bernardini, a daughter of Gr. I stakes-winner Dream Empress.

    Hip No. 1005, a son of Twirling Candy who breezed an eighth in a co-fastest :9 4/5 on Saturday was purchased by Marquee Bloodstock, Agent, for $700,000. Consigned by Global Thoroughbreds, Agent, the bay colt is out of Bite the Stars, by Flatter, a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Stanford.

    Hip No. 1075, a daughter of Practical Joke consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent, was sold to 30 Year Farm for $700,000. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is out of Choir, by Pulpit, a daughter of graded stakes-placed stakes-winning two-time OBS graduate Emmy Darling.

    Hip No. 920, a son of Uncle Mo consigned by Paul Sharp, Agent, went to D. J. Stable & Robert Cotran for $685,000. The bay colt, who galloped at the Under Tack Show, is a half-brother to graded stakes-winner First Captain out of graded stakes- winner America, by A.P. Indy.

    Hip No. 974, a daughter of McKinzie consigned by Julie Davies, Agent, was sold to Bradley Thoroughbreds for $675,000. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is out of Bay Harbor, by Speightstown, a daughter of graded stakes-winner Our Khrysty.

    Three Amiwgos ent to $600,000 for Hip No. 928, a daughter of Tiz the Law consigned by On Point Training & Sales. The chestnut filly, who breezed an eighth on Saturday in a co-fastest :9 4/5, is out of stakes-placed Animal Appeal, by Leroidesanimaux (BRZ), from the family of stakes-winner Triple Card.

    Hip No. 972, Metallix, a son of Quality Road consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, Agent for Chester & Mary Broman, was sold to Pedro Lanz, Agent for KAS Stables, for $600,000. The bay colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is a half-brother to graded stakes-winner Coinage out of Gr. I stakes-winner Bar of Gold, by Medaglia d’Oro.

    Hip No. 1143, a daughter of McKinzie whose Under Tack quarter in :20 1/5 equaled the track record, was sold to Bill Childs for $600,000. Consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, the bay filly is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed stakes -winner Strategic Dreams out of D’fashion, by D’Wildcat.

    Hip No. 936, a son of Not This Time consigned by Tom McCrocklin, Agent, went to Lael Stable for $550,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed a quarter in :20 4/5, is a half brother to recent stakes-winner Laughing Boy out of Applauding, by Congrats, from the family of Gr. I stakes-winner Shedaresthedevil.

    Hip No. 1064, a son of Nyquist consigned by GOP Racing Stable Corp. was sold to Donato Lanni, Agent for Zedan Racing Stable for $525,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is out of Charlatana by Harlan’s Holiday,  a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Laoban.

    Hip No. 1056, a son of Omaha Beach consigned by Richardson Bloodstock, Agent, was purchased by Spendthrift Farm for $510,000. The bay colt, who breezed a quarter in :21 flat, is out of Caxambas Pass, by Tiznow, a half-sister to Gr. I stakes-winner Point of Entry.

    Bow River Ranch, Hoby Kight, Agent, went to $500,000 for Hip No. 1044, a son of OBS graduate Into Mischief consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent. The bay colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is a full brother to graded stakes- winner Into Chocolate out of Candy Drawer, by Candy Ride (ARG).

    Hip No. 1191, a son of Tiz the Law consigned by Britton Peak, Agent, was purchased by Taproot Bloodstock, Agent, for $500,000. The bay colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 1/5, is out of Enough, by Arch, a half-sister to stakes-winner Plenty of Vision.

    For the session, 141 horses sold for a total of $19,701,500 compared with 168 horses grossing $22,781,000 at last year’s final session. The average price was $139,727, compared with $135,601 a year ago, while the median price was $65,000, identical to 2023. The buyback percentage was 21.2%; it was 12.9% in 2023.

    For the entire Spring Sale, 633 horses sold for a total of $82,086,500, compared to 699 horses bringing $90,405,000, last year. The average was a sale record $129,679, eclipsing last year’s $129,335 while the median price was a sale record $70,000, compared with $65,000 a year ago. The buyback percentage was 19.2%; it was 16.8% in 2023.





Thursday, April 18, 2024
Admission is $10, with children free . . .

    OLDSMAR - Whether you’re new to Thoroughbred racing or you’ve been coming to the racetrack since the days of Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian and Affirmed, it’s hard to pass up a chance to watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports surrounded by fellow horse lovers who understand what the fuss is about.

    Kentucky Derby Day is May 4, and Tampa Bay Downs plans a celebration like none other on the west coast of Florida. As track management is fond of saying: Louisville has the race, but we have one heck of a party!

   Plus, a full slate of racing to wrap up the 2023-2024 meet and accompany the simulcast excitement from Churchill Downs – which will present seven graded-stakes races in addition to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve – and many other racetracks.

  Admission at Tampa Bay Downs is $10, with children 17-and-under free. Valet parking is $25. The gates will open at 10 a.m., and the first local race will begin around noon. Automatic wagering terminals will be set up outside in front of the main Grandstand entrance for fans who decide to grab their tickets early and watch at home or elsewhere.

    Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:57 p.m. The final minutes before the race are electric, as the realization sinks in that this is it for another year.

    Plenty of Kentucky Derby souvenirs will be available in the Gift Shop, including glasses listing all 149 winners of the race. The cost is $14.95; if you want the traditional mint julep, the cost is $19 ($10 for the glass and $9 for the drink).

There will also be food-truck specials on the grounds, in addition to the usual concession and restaurant fare.

    The 150th edition of the Run for the Roses is expected to feature a full field of 20 horses, including as many as three who have competed at Tampa Bay Downs: the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby winner, Domestic Product; West Saratoga, who finished third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and second in the Pasco Stakes; and Grand Mo the First, the third-place Tampa Bay Derby finisher who is 21st in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points standings, necessitating a withdrawal beforehand to qualify.

   Domestic Product, a homebred owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, has worked four times at Payson Park Training Center since winning the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, including a 4-furlong breeze of 48 2/5 on Saturday, the fastest of 58 recorded workouts that day at the distance. “The horse is training super, better than ever, and I’m happy I chose to train him into the race,” Brown told the Daily Racing Form.

    Brown also trains top contender Sierra Leone, who won the Toyota Blue Grass on April 6 at Keeneland.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Three Amigos pays $775,000 . . .

    Hip No. 199, a daughter of Caracaro consigned by Global Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent, was sold to Three Amigos for $775,000 top the first session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2024 Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The bay filly, whose quarter in :20 2/5 was fastest at Monday’s Under Tack session, is a half sister to stakes placed Twirled out of Key d’Oro, by Medaglia d’Oro, from the family of graded one stakes winner Key Phrase.

    Hip No. 291, a son of Global Campaign consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, was sold to  Pedro Lanz, Agent for KAS Stables for $650,000. The bay colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is out of Maid in Heaven, by Yes It’s True, a full sister to graded stakes-winner Yesbyjimminy.

    Hip No. 166, a daughter of Uncle Mo consigned by Tom McCrocklin, Agent, was sold to Justin Casse for M. V. Magnier for $600,000. The bay filly, whose Under Tack quarter in :20 3/5 was co-fastest at Sunday’s Under Tack session, is a half sister to grade one stakes placed Be You out of graded stakes winner Jacaranda, by Congrats, a half sister to grade one stakes winner Constitution.

    Hip No. 125, a son of Nyquist consigned by Thorostock LLC, Agent, was sold to Spendthrift Farm / MKW Racing and Breeding LLC for $550,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is a half brother to graded stakes placed stakes winner Monday Morning QB out of How My Heart Works, by Not For Love, from the family of graded stakes winner Cyberknife. 

    Hip No. 153, a son of Nyquist consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, was purchased by James Divito, Agent, for $460,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat, is a half brother to stakes placed Elle’s Town out of graded stakes placed stakes winner Irish Presence, by champion OBS graduate Midnight Lute.

    Hip No. 295, a daughter of Bolt d’Oro consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, was sold for $460,000 to Bregman Family Racing LLC. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :9 4/5, is out of Major Z, by Candy Ride (ARG), from the family of champion Shared Belief.

    Woodford Thoroughbreds went to $390,000 for Hip No. 127, a daughter of Omaha Beach consigned by JVC Training and Sales, Agent. The bay filly, who worked an eighth in :10 flat, is out of Humor Me Dixie, by Distorted Humor, a daughter of graded stakes winner Dixie City.

    Hip No. 302, a son of Not This Time consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent, went to D. J. Stable LLC for $380,000. The bay colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 1/5, is a half brother to stakes winner Balandeen out of graded stakes winner Mama Kimbo, by Discreet Cat.

    Hip No. 143, a daughter of Quality Road consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent, was sold to Bradley Thoroughbreds LLC for $370,000. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :10 1/5, is a half sister to graded stakes winner Lovely Bernadette out of Inlovewithlove, by Bernstein.

    Hip No. 136, a son of Street Sense who breezed an Under Tack quarter in :21 flat, went to Taproot Bloodstock, Agent, for $340,000. Consigned by Pick View LLC, Agent, the bay colt is out of In a Snit, by Lookin At Lucky, a half sister to graded stakes winner Blind Date.

    Hip No. 109, a son  Vekoma consigned by Kinsman Farm, went to Reeves Thoroughbred Racing for $325,000. The bay colt, who breezed an Undeofr Tack eighth in :10 flat, is out of Hidden Facts, by The Factor, a daughter of stakes winner Mystic City.

    Hip No. 106, a daughter of Win Win Win consigned by Ocala Stud, was sold for $310,000 to Champion Equine LLC. The bay filly, who worked a quarter in :21 1/5, is out of Hello Juliet, by Adios Charlie, a half sister to stakes winner Lisa’s Booby Trap.

    Speedway Stables also paid $300,000 for Hip No. 16, daughter of Good Magic consigned by Hartley / DeRenzo Thoroughbreds.

Saturday, April 13, 2024
He adds No. 2,501 later on program . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Longtime South Florida trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. notched win No. 2,500 at Gulfstream Park when Raging Fury scored by four lengths in Race 6 of a 10-race program.

    The highly-respected 74-year-old trainer watched the milestone victory in Ocala, where he will attend next week’s OBS April Spring Sale. “I feel very fortunate. I’ve been very blessed in this game. I’ve been blessed with great owners. I’ve been blessed with great support, especially from my wife and family,” said Plesa, whose wife, Laurie, owns Racing Fury with longtime client Donald Mensh. “Laurie just asked me, ‘How do you feel?’ I said, ‘Who would have thought I would ever win 2,500 races?’”

    Plesa, the son of highly-respected trainer Eddie Plesa Sr., has been based in South Florida throughout his career but has enjoyed Gr. 1 success out of town. He saddled Itsmyluckyday for a victory in the 2014 Woodward at Belmont following a second-place finish in the 2013 Preakness Stakes. Plesa-trained Three Ring, winner of the 1999 Davona Dale (G2) and Bonnie Miss (G2) at Gulfstream, captured the Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park.

    Raging Fury ($10.20) took command at the top of the stretch under Edgard Zayas and drew off to win the $35,000 claiming race. Just two races later, Epona’s Hope ($32.20) awarded Plesa with Win No. 2,501 with an upset victory in the Race 8 feature, a five-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies on turf.

    Plesa, obviously, hasn’t grown tired of winning. “I’m up here for a reason. I’m not up here for the weather,” Plesa said. “I’m not quite ready to hang it up. We bought a couple of 2-year-olds earlier in the year. I’m going to see if I can buy a couple more right now.”

    NOTES: Ralph Nicks visited the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle Saturday, a day before he will step away from training. Nicks-trained Fast Chad ($7.60) scored a dominating win in Race 1, a maiden claiming race for 3-year-olds. The 57-year-old horseman, who assisted Hall of Famer Bill Mott during the Cigar years before going out on his own to win 722 races, plans to travel throughout the U.S. following Sunday’s program, for which he has entered three horses.


Saturday, April 13, 2024
Pair of Neolithics score in impressive fashion . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - D. J. Stable LLC’s Mensa registered a professional three-length debut victory Friday at Gulfstream Park, becoming the first winning offspring of first-year sire Complexity in the Royal Palm Meet’s first race for 2-year-olds.

    Mensa ($10) broke alertly from his inside stall to quickly open up a clear lead on his six rivals and rolled to an impressive triumph under Patrick Husbands. The $135,000 2023 OBS October purchase ran 4 ½ furlongs in :51.86 seconds in Race 2.

    “He’s been extremely professional from Day 1,” said Nick Tomlinson, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. “He’s a beautiful horse. A lot of the credit goes to the guys in the barn. They did a lot of gate schooling with him. They’re the reason a lot of these babies are ready to roll. He’s far more advanced than anyone else. Hopefully, he continues to progress from here.”

    Mensa is only the second offspring of Complexity to run in a race. Chad Brown-trained Complexity, a son of Maclean’s Music, won the 2018 Gr. I Champagne and the 2020 Gr. II Kelso.

    Trainer Patrick Biancone’s Unchained Elaine, a homebred daughter of American Pharoah, finished second, 11 lengths clear of third-place finisher Tank. Wesley Ward-trained Delightful Flame, the 7-10 favorite, broke slowly and was never a factor.

    Catalytic Breezes  - Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George Isaac’s Catalytic breezed four furlongs in :49.25 seconds Friday morning at in preparation for a start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby. The workout was the son of Catalina Cruiser’s first since his distant runner-up finish behind Fierceness in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby on March 30.

    “He went well. It was his first breeze back. It was an easy half in 49-and-1,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He’ll work back here once more, most likely next Friday, and then he’ll ship and have his last work at Churchill.” Catalytic made only his third career start while making his stakes debut in the Florida Derby, in which he chased Fierceness throughout, holding on to finish second, 13 ½ lengths back and 2 ½ lengths over Grand Mo the First.

    “He bounced out of the race well for a horse that was only making his third start, second start in three weeks,” Joseph said. “He was a distant second behind a deserving favorite, but I feel like he’s a horse that can improve again, which he should.”

Trumpets a Heaven-Sent Filly for Owner/Trainer Joe Catanese III - Trumpets overcame a slow start to follow up an impressive maiden score with an even more eye-catching victory Friday. Catanese inherited the 3-year-old daughter of Neolithic upon the passing of lifelong friend and beloved South Florida horseman Larry Bates last year.

    “I just thank Larry. This is all for Larry,” Catanese said in the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle following Trumpet’s four-length score in Race 6, a five-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old Florida-bred fillies on Tapeta.

    Trumpets broke last from her inside stall in the starting gate but took over the lead midway through the backstretch during a first-quarter of a mile in 21.73 seconds. The Florida-bred filly was never threatened thereafter, completing the five-furlong distance in 57.58 seconds. “I was a little surprised because the filly is usually fast from the gate,” jockey Edgar Perez said. “My filly is a very classy filly. After she broke slow, I push and push and push to put her on the lead and from the three-eighths pole, it was an easy way home.”

    The daughter of Neolithic was coming off a dazzling 5 ¾ length victory in a Feb. 14 maiden special weight event on the all-weather surface, over which she ran five-furlongs in :56.36 seconds. Trumpets previously finished second in her Dec. 23 debut, in which she was beaten three-quarters of a length by 3-5 favorite Karaya, who came right back to win an optional claiming allowance before finishing second in the March 24 Melody of Colors.

    In Race 7, a mile optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds on turf, BC Racing’s Prevent, a multiple stakes-placed son of Neolithic, held on to score by a nose over Ninja Star. The Juan Alvarado-trained 2-1 favorite provided Edgard Zayas with his second winning ride on Friday.

Thursday, April 11, 2024
Hopesndreams scores for 4th time at the meeting . . .

    OLDSMAR – After beginning her career 0-for-4, 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Hopesndreams has turned Tampa Bay Downs into her own personal playground this season.

    The daughter of former Pleasant Acres stallion Ride On Curlin-Exchangeable, by Exchange Rate, won for the fourth time from five starts at the meet in yesterday’s sixth race, holding off a belated rally by Glorious Lady in the $25,000 starter/optional claiming event to prevail by three-quarters of a length under jockey Jesus Castanon.

    Hopesndreams’ only defeat here came on March 24, when she finished third in the Florida Cup Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes.

    Bred by Helen and Joe Barbazon, and owned and trained by Mike Dini, Hopesndreams sped the 6-furlong distance on a fast track in 1:09.78, 1.11 seconds off the Oldsmar track record. With less than four weeks remaining in the meet, she trails only Paper Mansion (5-for-5) in victories.

    Surprisingly, Hopesndreams’ time was only second-best on the card. Ritabook, who was running for a claiming price of $25,000, drew away through the stretch under apprentice jockey Gabriel Maldonado in the stretch to win the second race by 3 ¼ lengths from D’ tiger Lily. Ritabook’s winning time was 1:09.73.

    The 5-year-old Florida-bred mare (Uncaptured-Four White Legs, by Albertus Maximus) won for the third time in 21 starts, with eight seconds. She is owned by Monarch Stables and trained by John Rigattieri
.

    Maldonado, who is third in the Oldsmar standings with 41 winners, won the first three races on the card, followed by two seconds. He scored in the first race on Tiz a Beast, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by TCBR Stable and trained by Jennifer Paragallo. Maldonado added the third on the turf with Lucky Girl Coco, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Coco Ranch and trained by Guillermo Morales Jr. Maldonado had previously ridden three winners here on Feb. 9.

    Dini sent out two winners as an owner and trainer. He won the seventh race, a 1-mile turf claiming event, with 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Platinum Diva, who raced past the leaders late to post a length-and-a-half victory under Charlie Marquez. Trendy finished second.

    A Florida-bred daughter of another Pleasant Acres stallion, Treasure Beach-Platinumplus, by Mizzen Mast, Platinum Diva was also bred by Helen and Joe Barbazon. Platinum Diva was claimed from the race for $20,000 by trainer Renaldo Richards for new owner Paula S. Capestro.

    Tim Hamm notched two training victories, as well. Both came on the turf. He won the fifth race with E Minor, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Blazing Meadows Farm and ridden by Angel Arroyo. Hamm added the ninth with Harrow, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Ruth Pelfrey, Gerard Nicoletta, Ella D Racing Stable and Blazing Meadows Farm and ridden by Pablo Morales.

Around the oval - Racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:20 p.m. 


Monday, April 8, 2024
She's the all-time leading female trainer . . .
    OLDSMAR - Kathleen O’Connell moved ever closer to her third Tampa Bay Downs training title, winning the sixth race on Saturday with her 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Bucchanera.

    Winning for the first time in four career starts, the winner paid $37.40 in defeating 11 other maiden sophomore fillies. Angel Moreno rode Bucchanera for O’Connell and owner Fabian Garcia. Bucchanera and runner-up Grand Lady Indy both withstood claims of foul lodged by jockey Scott Spieth aboard fifth-place finisher Miss Claudette for alleged interference at the start. The stewards disallowed both claims.

  O’Connell, North America’s all-time leading woman trainer in career victories with 2,470, has sent out 41 winners this season, 11 more than Oldsmar newcomer Jose Francisco D’Angelo. Gerald Bennett, who has won the previous eight titles, is third with 26.

    A Detroit product, O’Connell captured titles here in 1998-1999 and 2009-2010, tying with Jamie Ness that season. With 16 days remaining in the meet, the odds against her closest pursuers catching “K.O.” are remote, but the cake is still in the oven.






Sunday, April 7, 2024
Malibu Moon filly by 7 1/2 . . .

    Georgia Antley Hunt, Jeff Giglio and John L. Rogitz’s Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon – Miss Derek) was much the best in the $300,000, Gr. II Santa Anita Oaks, scoring by 7 1//2 lengths over fellow OBS graduate Kinza (Carpe Diem – Secret Wonder).

    Away slowly, the 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon rated on the inside, slipped through on the rail to take the lead turning for home and drew off with authority. Trained by Bob Baffert, she has three stakes wins, an 8-4-1-0 record and $423,160 inearnings. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she turned in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat and was purchased out of the Wildheart Thoroughbreds consignment for $190,000. 

    Sonata Stable’s Arzak rated behind the leaders in Keeneland’s $350,000, Gr. II Shakertown Stakes, went after the lead after turning for home, took charge a furlong out and was best by a length at the wire. It’s the third graded stakes win for the 6-year-old son of Not This Time, purchased for $575,000 out of the Julie Davies consignment at the 2020 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Trained by Mike Trombetta, he has compiled a 25-8-3-1 career record and has earned $824,019. 

Friday, April 5, 2024
Neolithic colt romps in debut . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - JR Racing’s Slide Show put on quite a show today at Gulfstream Park while romping to a 12-length debut victory over the Tapeta surface.

    The son of Neolithic broke alertly from the gate and led his six rivals on a merry chase on his way to graduating in Race 3, a mile-and-70-yard maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds.

    Trainer Jose Garoffalo had confidence in Slide Show ($12.60), entering him in his debut in open company and around two turns, but the colt bred in Florida by the late NFL player Freddie Hyatt exceeded his expectations. “I always had faith in him and knew he was a good horse. The older he got the better he performed. I was impressed with his debut,” Garoffalo said. “I was expecting a good race but not that good.”

    Slide Show ran a mile and 70 yards in 1:40.50 under Miguel Vasquez, who rode three winners on today’s program.

    “We’re very happy with the horse. He did it easy,” said Garoffalo, who hopes to schedule an optional claiming allowance for Florida-breds for Slide Show’s next start. “We’ll take it step by step.”

    Kid Cairo, a Mark Casse-trained son of Cairo Prince, finished second in his debut, a neck ahead of Annointed, a son of Justify.

Monday, April 1, 2024
More than $5.4 million bet Sunday . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - A mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool yielded multiple payoffs of $8,791 on Easter Sunday at Gulfstream Park, closing day of the 2023-2024 Championship Meet.

    The multi-race wager had gone unsolved for 19 consecutive days following a mandatory payout of $35,544on March 3. A total of $5,448,012 was bet Sunday on top of an $866,897 carryover from Saturday’s blockbuster Florida Derby program.

    Far Bridge ($3.40) kicked off the Rainbow 6 with a popular victory in Race 6, followed by Invigorated ($19) in Race 7, Boomin’ Belle ($11.20) in Race 8, Classify ($4.20) in Race 9, Miss Speedy ($19.20) in Race 10 and Creed’s Gold ($21.80) in Race 11.

    The Rainbow 6 will begin anew on Thursday, April 4, opening day of Gulfstream’s Royal Palm Meet. Scheduled to run through Sunday, Sept. 1, the Royal Palm Meet will feature 23 stakes worth $2.295 million in purses starting May 4 with the $100,000 English Channel for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Honey Ryder for 3-year-old fillies, both at one mile on the turf.

    Post time for the first of eight races Thursday is 1:10 p.m. The feature comes in Race 6, an optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track. Among the entrants are 8-year-old mare Starship Nala, eight times stakes-placed; Drifaros, never worse than third in eight tries with four wins and graded stakes-placings in the 2023 Gr. III Chicago and Gr. III Hurricane Bertie, the latter at Gulfstream; and 2023 Gr. III Iowa Oaks and Rampart runner-up Imonra.
Monday, April 1, 2024
Five-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey tops every rider's category . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Gulfstream Park lowered the curtain on its 2023-2024 Championship Meet with an 11-race Easter Sunday program that saw jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. defend their respective titles at the prestigious winter stand.

    Ortiz won twice Sunday on Invigorated ($19) in Race 7 and Miss Speedy ($19.20) in Race 9 to finish with 119 winners and top the rider standings for the fifth time in the past six seasons and second straight after leading the way with 128 in 2022-2023. Ortiz, who accepted his fifth Eclipse Award and second straight in January for 2023, also led Gulfstream in 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, when he won a record 140 races.


    Also tops with more than $5.9 million in purses earned, Ortiz won 13 stakes during the Championship Meet including graded triumphs in the Gr. II Inside Information, Gr. III Suwannee River, Gr. III William L. McKnight, Gr. III Sweetest Chant, Gr. III Canadian Turf, Gr. III Honey Fox and Gr. III Orchid. The Orchid and Sand Springs were among five wins on Saturday’s Florida Derby program.

    “It went very good for us. It means a lot to win another title here. They make me feel at home here,” Ortiz said. “The owners, everybody training here, the whole organization – security and the people who work here – they make me feel good. I have great support from the trainers and owners of Florida, and I appreciate it. I’m so happy to win another title here.”

    Ortiz’s brother, Jose, held off Paco Lopez for second in the rider standings. Jose He visited the winner’s circle Sunday on Broderie ($3) in Race 3, Far Bridge ($3.40) in Race 6 and Creed’s Gold ($21.80) in Race 11 to finish with 94 wins, two more than Lopez, who also registered three aboard Poliglota ($9.80) in Race 2, Turf Rocket ($8.60) in Race 4 and Classify ($4.20) in Race 9.

    Joseph collected his third straight Championship Meet training title following an 18-year reign by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who finished second with 37 winners including Invigorated. Joseph won with Classify ($4.20) in Race 9 to finish with 66 wins and more than $3.4 million in purse earnings.

    Seven of Joseph’s wins came in stakes, including O’Connor in the Gr. III Harlan’s Holiday, R Harper Rose in the Gr. III Forward Gal and Honor D Lady in the Gr. III Royal Delta. He also ran second in the $1 million Florida Derby with Kentucky Derby-bound Catalytic.

    Joseph led Gulfstream with 58 wins in 2021-2022 and 47 victories in 2022-2023. Pletcher still holds the Championship Meet record with 72 wins in 2017-2018.

    “The three titles – each one feels better than the other,” Joseph said. “We’re thankful for the opportunities from the owners, the team we have – how hard they work and all the effort they put in – and most importantly to have the horses we have. The horses are the biggest piece of the puzzle. The horses make everyone look good.” 

    Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse won three races Sunday, Boomin’ Belle ($11.20) in Race 8, Miss Speedy ($19.20) in Race 10 and Creed’s Gold ($21.80) in Race 11, to finish third with 30 wins.


    Ken Ramsey claimed the owner title with 27 winners. Among them were Joseph-trained Be My Sunshine in the Tropical Park Oaks and Abrumar in the Colonel Liam. Ramsey previously led the owner standings in 2021-2022, 2019-2020 and from 2012-2013 to 2017-2018.

    Gulfstream will open the Royal Palm Meet with an eight-race program Thursday starting at 1:10 p.m.

Sunday, March 31, 2024
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner romps by 13 1/2 lengths . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Repole Stable’s Fierceness recaptured his championship form in dramatic fashion Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the son of City of Light overpowered his opposition by a record 13 ½ lengths in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa.

    “That was a pretty awesome performance. That’s what we see in the mornings when we breeze him, a special talent,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “That's why it was so perplexing his two races that he didn't run brilliantly. He's three times brilliant and two times has had off days.”

Fierceness provided Pletcher with his record-extending eighth Curlin Florida Derby victory while posting the largest winning margin in the 73-year history of the tradition-rich 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds, eclipsing Empire Maker’s old record of 9 ¾ lengths set in 2003.

The juvenile champion of 2023 joined Pletcher’s previous Curlin Florida Derby winners, Forte (2023), Known Agenda (2021), Audible (2018), Always Dreaming (2017), Materiality (2015), Constitution (2014), and Quality Road (2009).

Fierceness, who finished a disappointing third in the Feb. 2, Gr. II Holy Bull in his 3-year-old debut after clinching the Eclipse Award with a 6 ¼-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, earned 100 qualifying points for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, where he will no doubt vie for favoritism in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

  “From a talent perspective, he has it all,” Pletcher said. “Like everyone else in the Derby, you’ve got to hope you draw a good post, you get a good trip, and you like Churchill Downs – all those things.”

    Despite his subpar showing in the Holy Bull, Fierceness was sent to post as the even-money favorite in a field reduced to nine upon the early morning withdrawals of his stablemate, Bail Us Out, and Seminole Chief. The Repole Stable homebred put on a show for his backers and everyone else with his dazzling effort, in which he took control on the first turn and was never threatened thereafter. Fierceness set fractions of :24.06 and :47.50 for the first half-mile, with Grand Mo the First and Catalytic in pursuit, before drawing away while geared down by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
    “It was pretty easy. This is what I expected last time out of him. He had been working lights out. He broke well today, and I just let him have it. I let them come and get him, and he dominated the whole race. When he got to the backstretch and switched to the turn, he picked it up and so I let him do it. He was comfortable,” Velazquez said. “Then at the quarter pole, I gave him a little smooch and he picked it up right away. It was pretty easy. This is why we’re here. This is what we work for, for opportunities like this. It’s exciting.”


Fierceness ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.22 to also provide Velazquez with his record-extending sixth Florida Derby success. The Hall of Famer previously won aboard Audible, Always Dreaming, Materiality, Orb (2013) and Quality Road.

Fierceness has bounced back from a subpar showing before. After winning his debut at Saratoga last August, he finished seventh over a sloppy Aqueduct track in the Oct. 7, Gr. I Champagne. The Pletcher trainee redeemed himself with his dominating Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win.

    Catalytic, who was making his stakes debut in only his third career start, held on to finish second under Julien Leparoux, 2 ½ lengths ahead of Grand Mo the First, who nosed out 5-2 second choice Conquest Warrior for third.


    Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George Isaac’s Catalytic won his debut by 5 ½ lengths at Gulfstream last October and came back five months later to finish second in a March 8 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs. “He’s a good horse. It wasn’t the ideal circumstance, but he was brave today. I had a lot of respect for some of the horses in the race and he ran a really good second,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said after Catalytic earned 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. “Nothing was going to beat the winner. We should improve a lot from this. Hopefully he comes out well, and we’ve got five weeks to keep dreaming.”

  Trainer Victor Barboza Jr. is hopeful that Grand Mo the First, who was beaten by only a neck while finishing third in the March 9 Tampa Bay Derby, will make the Kentucky Derby field. “I’m very happy with the race. Today he earned 25 points. He has 40 points,” Barboza said. “He has a good chance to make the Kentucky Derby.”

    Courtlandt Farms’ Conquest Warrior, who was coming off a pair of impressive victories during the Championship Meet, was never in contention while finishing fourth.

    “He didn’t break real sharp, so I think it got him out of position a little bit. He was kind of having to wind through all that dirt and stuff,” McGaughey said. “He’s still a young horse. He just needs to learn.”

    Conquest Warrior finished 4 ¾ lengths ahead of Holy Bull winner Hades, who raced evenly to check in fifth.

    “It was a terrible trip. I had a lot of trouble on the first turn and at the three-eighths [pole]. He wasn’t handling the track today very well,” Hades’ jockey Paco Lopez said. “I can’t believe it the way he was training here. I’m very surprised. He tried hard, but it was not like the last race.”

    Fierceness gave Repole Stable back-to-back Florida Derby wins, following Forte, who was co-owned by St. Elias Stable.

    “It’s surreal. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not normal to do it once, [but] twice in back-to-back years to win this race and go in with the Kentucky Derby favorite? As you guys know from the past, a lot can happen from now to post time, but we saw something pretty special today,” owner Mike Repole said.

    “It’s just special. I got 70 family members, and they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it for them. It’s just very special,” he added. “I said before, we forget he’s only had four races. He had a layoff. That was just really special. I told Todd if he wins by five or is beat by five, I wouldn’t be surprised. How could you be?”

Sunday, March 31, 2024
Earnings pass $1.5 million . . .

    Zedan Racing Stables’ Muth (Good Magic – Hoppa) again served notice he’s a force to be reckoned with in the 3-year-old division, scoring a two-length win in the $1.5-million, Gr. I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

    Pressing the pace from the start under Juan Hernandez, the son of Good Magic went after the lead leaving the backstretch, took command turning for home and eased away down the stretch to a decisive victory. It’s the second Gr. I win for Muth, consigned to the 2023 OBS March Sale by Top Line Sales, Agent, and purchased by Donato Lanni, Agent, for a sale record-equaling $2 million after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5.

    The latest OBS millionaire, Muth is now 4-2-0 in six starts for trainer Bob Baffert and the check for $787,500 increased his earnings to $1,504,100.  

Thursday, March 28, 2024
Fierceness 3-1 on Florida Derby line . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Courtlandt Farms’ Conquest Warrior will make his stakes debut in Saturday’s $1 million Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa in only his fourth career start, and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey couldn’t be happier with the son of City of Light’s preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Triple Crown prep.    

    “I feel good. We’ve had two good races here and I still have a pretty fresh horse. He’s trained good over it,” McGaughey said. “He’s had a race going a mile and an eighth here, which he handled, obviously, very easily. He came out of it good. I don’t think we took anything out of him.”

    Conquest Warrior is rated second on the morning line at 3-1 behind Fierceness, the 2023 juvenile champion who has been installed at 8-5 for the 73rd running of the Curlin Florida Derby, which will headline a 14-race program with 10 stakes, five graded, worth $2.425 million. The $1 million purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September sale finished third over a muddy Aqueduct track following a slow start in his Dec. 2 debut at seven furlongs. He graduated Jan. 13 after rallying from far back in a one-turn mile maiden special weight event at Gulfstream, where he came back to capture a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance by five lengths.


    “He learned a lot back at Aqueduct in the fall, and when he broke his maiden here, he kind of smashed away from the gate and got in a little trouble at the three-eighths pole. He was able to overcome it. The race here the other day, I thought was a really good race going a mile and an eighth,” McGaughey said. “I was a little bit worried about going that far after only two starts, but if I was going to run in the Florida Derby, that’s what I was going to have to do. I thought he handled it really well. He’s a very smart, straightforward horse, so he’s been able to overcome his problems.”

    McGaughey saddled Orb for a Florida Derby win in 2013. The son of Malibu Moon, who went on to capture the Kentucky Derby, had considerably more experience than Conquest Warrior going into the Florida Derby, having won a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Gulfstream in his fifth career start before capturing the G. II Fountain of Youth.

    In addition to clashing with Fierceness, Conquest Warrior will meet Gr. III Holy Bul winner Hades in the Curlin Florida Derby.

    “It is a big step up. He’s going from a non-winners-of-one allowance race to a Grade 1 in the Florida Derby,” McGaughey acknowledged. “He’s meeting some pretty challenging horses, but it’s time to see if we’re going to go on down the road the way we hope to. He’s going to have to show up Saturday in the Florida Derby. It will be a nice test for him. There’s some nice horses in there. They’ve all been running in top-class races against some really nice horses.”

    Nevertheless, Conquest Warrior is the only horse in the field of 11 3-year-olds that has won at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Curlin Florida Derby.

    “I think he’s a true router – a mile and an eighth and even farther,” McGaughey said. “One of the good things about him is you can do what you want with him. He’s got a really, really good mind." Jose Ortiz returns on Conquest Warrior Saturday.
Thursday, March 28, 2024
Expects Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner to rebound . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Jockey John Velazquez isn’t sure why Repole Stable’s champion Fierceness disappointed when finishing third Feb. 3 when making his 3-year-old debut in the Gr. III Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. But Velazquez doesn’t question the potential of the colt leading up to Saturday’s $1 Million Curlin Florida Derby having won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November aboard him by 6 1 /4 lengths.

    “I can’t pinpoint why he didn’t run his race [in the Holy Bull],’’ Velazquez said. “But if he shows up [Saturday] the way he did in the Breeders’ Cup…. come on.”

    Velazquez, winner of the Florida Derby a record five times, sat down with Gulfstream host and analyst Ron Nicoletti earlier this week to talk about Fierceness and his Breeders’ Cup and Holy Bull performances, the colt’s recent works, and what it means to win the Florida Derby.
Monday, March 25, 2024
Paco Lopez wins 4 times, 3 stakes . . .

    OLDSMAR - Chamber of Commerce weather – clear skies, temperatures in the 70s and enough wind to keep things interesting – greeted a crowd of 3,720 enthusiastic racegoers to Tampa Bay Downs Sunday for the 21st annual Florida Cup, a collection of six $110,000 stakes races for registered Florida-breds. 

    While the turf course was listed as “good” rather than firm for the first time since the 2013 Florida Cup, horsemen, jockeys and track officials praised the efforts of the track maintenance crew for their preparation of both the turf and dirt track after considerable rain the previous two days.

    In short, the stage was perfectly set for products of the state’s Thoroughbred industry to put on a first-class show, and they didn’t disappoint.

    Jockey Paco Lopez was the star of the afternoon’s competition, winning the last three Florida Cup races, including a stakes-record performance on 5-year-old gelding Forever Souper in the ESMARK Turf Classic. But, as always, the Thoroughbreds captured the public’s imagination, striving for excellence with those qualities of determination and courage that have long stamped the industry in the Sunshine State.

ESMARK TURF CLASSIC

    About the last thing Lopez expected from 5-year-old gelding Forever Souper was a stakes record after two days of rain soaked the Oldsmar turf, turning it to “good” rather than firm for the Florida Cup for the first time in 11 years. But the electronic timer didn’t lie: Forever Souper ran the mile-and-an-eighth in 1:46.87, bettering the former mark of 1:47 flat set in 2010 by Picou. Forever Souper’s time was .61 seconds off Hall of Fame member Tepin’s course record for the distance.

    “Oh, wow. Really? I didn’t know that,” Lopez said with a wide smile. “(Trainer) Michael (Trombetta) had him ready, and the horse did it very well. I had plenty of horse today.”

    The victory was the second Florida Stakes triumph on the card for Trombetta and breeder-owner Live Oak, the legendary Ocala showcase of Charlotte C. Weber. Forever Souper’s triumph happened the fifth in the ESMARK Turf Classic for Live Oak Plantation, a mark it also reached in the Equistaff Sophomore Turf earlier on the card with Crystal Quest.
    
    Happyisasdhappydoes set a measured pace under Antonio Gallardo and appeared dangerous on the backside, at least until Lopez asked Forever Souper to get going. The rider angled him to the outside for the stretch run, and from there he posted a convincing length-and-a-quarter victory from Happyisashappydoes, with Me and Mr. C finishing third.

    “I wasn’t really worried (about Happisashappydoes) stealing the race, because it’s a long stretch and I had plenty of horse,” Lopez said.

    The son of American Pharoah-Mighty Souper, by War Front, paid $3.00 to win as the wagering favorite. He is 6-for-13 lifetime, having won the Sunshine Turf Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 21 in his previous start. First-place earnings of $60,000 boosted his career figure to $272,255.

    Trombetta was ecstatic about Forever Souper’s performance. “We are very fond of him. He's been a lot of fun,” Trombetta said via telephone. “He's a cool cat, this horse. It would be awfully hard to beat Tepin's course record, but the stakes record is really great.

    “We were looking forward to this race with him. After the last race at Gulfstream, there just wasn't enough room in the schedule to try to squeeze another race in that would make sense. I figured, you know what? We'll just point him to this race and give him plenty of time. He came through really well. Paco rides this horse really well and (Forever Souper) seems to run right out from underneath him.”

STONEHEDGE FARM SOUTH SOPHOMORE FILLIES

    Expectations were high among the connections of Mystic Lake entering the race, and the daughter of Mo Town-Salty Soul, by Itsmyluckyday, didn’t disappoint. She moved to the lead shortly after the start and was never threatened, with Edgard Zayas riding high in the saddle until asking for her best at the quarter-mile pole. The result was a 3 ½-length victory from Girvin’s Princess in a time of 1:23.37 for the 7-furlong distance. Hopesndreams finished third in the six-horse field.

    The victory was the third in seven starts for Mystic Lake, who was supplemented to the field at a cost of $2,000 after not being originally nominated. Mystic Lake had won the Gasparilla Stakes here on Jan. 13, also under Zayas, in her 3-year-old debut. First-place money of $60,000 raised her career bankroll to $183,266. “She broke super sharp out of the gate and as soon as she took the lead, she kind of relaxed and from there I knew I was in a good spot,” Zayas said. “She can be a little nervous, but she relaxed so good today and when I asked her, she really kicked on and kept on rolling.”

    Mystic Lake paid $3.20 to win as the betting favorite. She is owned by C2 Racing Stable and Stefania Farms and trained by Saffie A. Joseph Jr. Peggy Costanzo bred her. Clint Cornett, a partner in C2 Racing Stable with his brother Mark, said they were able to relax as well as their horse when Mystic Lake started so nicely.

    “As long as she got out of the gate and got her trip, we felt pretty confident she was going to do exactly what she did,” Clint Cornett said. “We cut her back to 7 furlongs (after a fifth-place effort on March 2 at Gulfstream in the Grade III, 1-mile Herecomesthebride Stakes on the turf), and I think she liked it. You could tell on the backside she was really relaxed, and (Zayas) really didn’t ask her until late.”

    Joseph, who watched the race from south Florida, was delighted with the performance by both filly and rider. "She ran well. I thought Edgard was very smart,” Joseph said. “He broke well and was able to keep Paco (Lopez, on Miss Sayley from post 1) on the inside and not put on too much pressure. She showed up and ran a big race, and she was very professional.
I have no plans for the future with her yet. This race was a decider for her so I'll talk it over with the owners and then come up with a plan.” 

PLEASANT ACRES STALLIONS DISTAFF TURF

    Every time his 4-year-old filly Charlie’s Wish runs, owner Mark Queen (Royalight Racing LLC) feels as if he is playing with house money. He acquired the son of First Dude-Superior Sarah, by Werblin, when a member of the horse’s breeding partnership, Three Gin Guys Stable, died and the other two partners (who were clients of Queen’s) gifted him the horse.

    “They gave her to me as a yearling, and it’s so nice when you raise them yourselves,” Queen said after Charlie’s Wish scored a half-length victory from a hard-charging Mohawk Trail. The pace-setter, Baby Steps, finished third, while defending race champion and favorite Sweet Dani Girl settled for fourth.

    Charlie’s Wish paid $14.60 after stopping the timer in 1:40.94 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance, .52 seconds off Speed Seeker’s course record. Charlie’s Wish improved to 4-for-14 with five seconds, and first-place money of $70,000 raised her earnings to $296,474.

    Queen, the son of legendary 88-year-old Florida breeder-owner Harold Queen, also received a bonus of a stallion fee from sponsor Pleasant Acres Stallions for up to $10,000.

    It’s doubtful he’ll use it to breed Charlie’s Wish any time soon. With Lopez en route to his third consecutive victory, the winner moved smartly along the inside on the turn for home to wrest the lead from Baby Steps, then held off Mohawk Trail courageously.

    “Paco did a great job with this horse,” said trainer David Fawkes, who also teamed with Lopez to win the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore with Pure Class. “The last time she ran on the grass (a third-place finish on Jan. 14 in the Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf Stakes at Gulfstream), she was really green She’s growing up now, like all of them.”

    Lopez was momentarily worried he might have moved prematurely on Charlie’s Wish, but he didn’t want to get beaten to the punch by Javier Castellano, who had Sweet Dani Girl in prime striking position outside of Baby Steps. Lopez needn’t have worried, as his horse was best, plain and simple. "My filly just ran very good. She had been working well, but I was a little surprised how well she ran,” Lopez said.

    Lopez also won the fifth race on the card on 8-year-old gelding Klickitat for owner In Front Racing Stables and trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo, giving the rider four winners on the card.

EQUISTAFF SOPHOMORE TURF

    Javier Castellano wasn’t concerned when Prevent opened up a 5-length lead on the backstretch, posting moderate fractions of 23.38 seconds for the quarter-mile and 47.85 for the half. He was confident his horse would respond when asked, and Crystal Quest didn’t let him down, powering to a ¾-length victory from the determined pace-setter. Ninja Star finished third.

    The victory was a record fifth in the race for owner Live Oak Plantation, which bred Crystal Quest under its Live Oak Stud banner. Michael Trombetta trains the son of Uncle Mo-Giant Crystal, by Giant’s Causeway, for breeder-owner Charlotte C. Weber. Crystal Quest’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth was 1:41.86. The victory was his third in four starts, and his first stakes effort had Castellano singing his praises.

    “I liked the way he finished. He is learning a lot and I think this win is huge for him,” said Castellano, who was riding Crystal Quest for the first time. “I think he can go on from here to the graded (stakes level).”

    Trombetta was pleased, and also a bit relieved, after his colt’s third consecutive victory since Jan. 28. "We were a little concerned running back on short rest but he bounced out of his last race pretty good, so we didn't want to pass up this opportunity,” Trombetta said. “He was doing well so fortunately he was able to handle it. He certainly seems to like the turf and the artificial surface (at Gulfstream).

    “He's always done everything right. He was pretty green in his first start – he walked out of the gate and showed us he wasn't ready to do it yet, so I had to go back to work and kind of put some good works in him and give him a little bit more time to put it together. Since then he's done everything really well. Javier was patient with him and when he asked him, he kicked on pretty good. He's just starting to mature and really come into himself so we're real happy with him,” Trombetta added.

    Castellano was content to let Prevent open up early. “I didn’t want to rush my horse out of his style,” he said. “He’s a come-from-behind horse no matter what the pace is, so I just picked out a good target and encouraged him a little at the 3/8-mile pole, and I asked him turning for home. I liked the way he responded.”

    Riding for connections such as Weber and Trombetta never loses its meaning, even to a veteran such as Castellano. “She is a wonderful lady who has supported the sport for many years, and Michael did a great job getting him ready. I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride for them.” Crystal quest paid $4 to win as the even-money favorite. First-place money of $60,000 boosted his earnings to $122,830.

NYRABETS SPRINT

    Even though Sibelius’s credentials as a world-class sprinter are well-established, jockey Samy Camacho couldn’t help but blame himself For Mish’s neck defeat against last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen winner on Feb. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs in the Pelican Stakes. Without Sibelius to contend with today, the 7-year-old gray gelding Mish displayed his class, moving to the lead effortlessly on the turn for home before gearing down late for a 3 ¼-length victory from If Not for Luck. Zydeceaux finished third.

    Mish, a son of Field Commission-Wicked Great, by Greatness, improved to 9-for-28 with the victory. Owned by the C2 Racing Stable partnership of brothers Clint and Mark Cornett and trained by Saffie A. Joseph, Jr., Mish was bred by Joyce Mary Kielty. “It’s a huge win. He’s a beautiful horse, and he came in sharp today like he did (in the Pelican). I was in a perfect spot from the outside, in the clear, and when we turned for home he took off,” Camacho said.

    Clint Cornett said they had considered sending Mish to Dubai for a rematch against Sibelius in Saturday’s upcoming Dubai Golden Shaheen, but sometimes the best plans are the ones you don’t follow through on. Clint didn’t seem in the mood to wonder “what-if” after such an impressive triumph, achieved in a time of 1:09.82 for the 6-furlong distance.
“He ran a good second (in the Pelican) and he ran well today. He’s Mr. Consistency,” Cornett said. “He keeps doing his thing.” Mish has finished first or second in eight of his last nine starts.

    Watching via simulcast, trainer Joseph viscerally experienced what happens when an experienced Thoroughbred pro who is still at or near the peak of his ability is allowed to do his thing. “This horse is the gift that keeps on giving, most definitely,” Joseph said. “He lost some form last year so we backed off of him and went back to some easier races. Once he found his form again he's been ultra-consistent.

    “Today's race worked in his favor. He sat in a perfect spot and after that he just did what he should. He's a good old gelding who's very solid, and even when he gets beat he shows up. In his last race, Sibelius just beat him. Mish likes Tampa, too, and today he came back here and won a stakes.” And when he walked back to his barn, his gray coat glistening with sweat, he donned the winner’s blanket with a pride and bearing that was kind of awesome to see. First-place money of $60,000 increased Mish’s career bankroll to $473,682.

OCALA BREEDERS’ SALES SOPHOMORE

    JoAnn and Alex Lieblong’s colt Pure Class was somewhat overlooked by bettors in the eight-horse Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore. But trainer David Fawkes and jockey Paco Lopez sensed they were sitting on a horse ready to take off after winning his previous start, a 6-furlong conditional allowance on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.

    “I talked to Paco before the race and said ‘What do you think?’ and he said ‘I want to be right off the pace and ask him turning for home,’ and that’s what he did,” Fawkes said. “This horse is still just learning. He’s not a slow learner and he’s doing great, but he’s still a big baby,” Fawkes said. And one with black stakes type to his credit. Pure Class paid $16.20 to win as the co-third wagering choice in the eight-horse field.

    Pure Class is a son of The Big Beast out of I’mclassyandsassy, by Master Command. He has three victories and three seconds from seven starts, and first-place earnings of $70,000 increased his bankroll to $176,140. His time for the 7-furlong distance was 1:23.77.

    Sugar Boy, the unbeaten (4-for-4) colt from Puerto Rico, finished second, with Everdoit third in his second race in eight days. Saybrook, making his third career start, ran creditably to hold fourth in the eight-horse field as the surprising 6-5 wagering favorite. Lopez has also been working Pure Class, and he thought that gave him an advantage today. “I felt comfortable with him, and I was confident he would respond when I asked him,” Lopez said. “He worked very good the last couple of times, and he’s doing better and better.” The race was the first outside OF Gulfstream Park for Pure Class.


Saturday, March 23, 2024
Holy Bull winner goes in :50.21 . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - D. J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades, who captured the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (G3) breezed a half-mile in 50.21 seconds Friday morning in preparation for a return to action in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa March 30 at Gulfstream Park.

    Due to forecasts for heavy rain Friday and Saturday, trainer Joe Orseno opted to breeze Hades a day earlier than scheduled – a workout that was completed on Gulfstream’s fast main track.


    The 3-year-old gelded son of Awesome Slew will enter the Florida Derby undefeated in three starts. After rallying from far back to graduate at 5 ½ furlongs, Hades shook off heavy pressure in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance before drawing off to victory by six lengths. In the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull Feb. 3, the Florida-bred gelding took control right from the start to set a pressured pace before again drawing off to win by two lengths.

    “He has exceeded my expectations,” Orseno said, “even with today’s last breeze going into the Florida Derby. “He did everything perfect. He just handles himself very professional. He gets things easily where other horses struggle.”

    At Palm Beach Downs, Repole Stable’s Fierceness, who finished a troubled third as the 1-5 favorite in the Holy Bull, breezed a half-mile in 47.43 seconds over a fast track at Palm Beach Downs Friday morning. After working in company with Be You, a Grade 1-placed Repole stablemate who is coming off an optional claiming allowance win, Fierceness galloped out five-furlongs in 1:00.63 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. “It went very well,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He looked great.”

    Fierceness was voted 2023 Eclipse Award 2-year-old male champion after winning the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita by 6 ¼ lengths, rebounding from a disappointing performance in the Champagne (G1) at Aqueduct in his prior start.

    Notes: Frank DeLuca’s Frankie’s Empire, who finished third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) after winning the Swale (G3), breezed a half-mile in 48.02 seconds at Gulfstream Friday morning. The son of Classic Empire worked in company with Stonehedge LLC’s Davona Dale (G2) winner Fiona’s Magic, a leading prospect for the March 30 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) who was timed in 48.12. Both 3-year-olds are trained by Michael Yates.

Jockey Jose Ortiz has been confirmed to ride Conquest Warrior in the Florida Derby after riding the Shug McGaughey-trained colt to back-to-back wins during the Championship Meet… Edwin Gonzalez will return aboard Fountain of Youth and Swale runner-up Le Dom Bro for trainer Eniel Cordero in the Florida Derby. Le Dom Bro breezed a half-mile in 49.45 at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County Friday morning… Emisael Jaramillo has the mount on Victor Barboza Jr.-trained Grand Mo the First, who lost by a neck while finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
6 stakes worth $110,000 each . . .
    OLDSMAR - Florida Cup Day, a collection of six $110,000 stakes races bringing together some of the top state-bred horses in training, will be held Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Nominations for the 21st annual event closed with a total of 119 nominations across the six races. Horses must be registered Florida-breds to compete.

    The event has produced such outstanding winners as Munnys Gold, who set the Oldsmar oval’s 7-furlong main track record of 1:20.09 in winning last year’s Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes; World Approval, a two-time Florida Cup winner (2015 Equistaff Sophomore Turf and 2017 Turf Classic), who went on to win the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Mile; and Imperial Hint, a four-time Grade I winner and 2017 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up who won the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes and the 2018 NYRABETS Sprint.


    The Florida Cup celebrates the state’s rich tradition of breeding, raising and racing champion Thoroughbreds. That group includes such all-time greats as 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed; Kentucky Derby winners Unbridled, Silver Charm, Carry Back, Needles, Foolish Pleasure and Medina Spirit; Dr. Fager; Holy Bull and Afleet Alex.

    The race lineup remains unchanged from last year. One new sponsor has climbed aboard – ESMARK, a Pittsburgh-based company focusing on steel services, oil and gas exploration, aviation, real estate, technology and sports management.

    The ESMARK Turf Classic is a mile-and-an-eighth race on the grass course for Florida-breds 4-years-old-and-upward. The 22 nominees include trainer Michael Maker’s 7-year-old gelding Me and Mr. C, who won the race in 2021 and was second last year, and trainer Kelsey Danner’s 4-year-old colt Otago, who won last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore.

    There are 22 horses nominated to the NYRABETS Sprint, a 6-furlong race on the main track. Top nominees include 5-year-old gelding Dean Delivers, a Grade III winner from the barn of Michael Yates; Grade III winner Octane, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Juan Alvarado; and Mish, trainer Saffie A. Joseph Jr.’s 7-year-old gelding who just missed upsetting Sibelius here in last month’s Pelican Stakes.

    There are 21 horses nominated to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, a 7-furlong race for 3-year-olds on the main track. The nominees include Pure Class, a David Fawkes-trained colt who has finished first or second in five of six career starts, and unbeaten (4-for-4) Sugar Boy, trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo’s colt who has done all his running at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico.

    The Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, for 3-year-old females going 7 furlongs on the dirt, attracted 16 nominees. There may not be another Munnys Gold, but Joseph’s R Harper Rose is a Grade III winner who is 4-for-5 and Maker’s Let Them Watch and Herman Wilensky’s Chi Chi finished 1-2 on Dec. 2 in the Sandpiper Stakes.

    The Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf for fillies and mares 3-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth attracted 21 nominees. Grade III-winning 4-year-old Mohawk Trail, trained by Danner, and defending champion Sweet Dani Girl, a multiple-stakes winner trained by Christophe Clement, are on the list.


    The Equistaff Sophomore Turf, for 3-year-olds traveling a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf, drew 17 colt and gelding nominees. Standing out on paper is Danner’s colt Shards, who has not raced since finishing fifth on Nov. 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, beaten only 2 ¼ lengths by winner Big Evs.

    All licensed owners, breeders and trainers are invited to a luncheon free of charge on Florida Cup Day from noon-3 p.m., upon display of their license, under the big tent adjacent to the paddock.
Friday, March 15, 2024
Service has returned . . .

    OLDSMAR - The tote shutdown following Saturday’s 10th race at Tampa Bay Downs, the Grade III Florida Oaks, occurred because of a communications outage between AmTote International and Roberts Communication Network (RCN), according to officials with both companies.

    AmTote, which is owned by 1/ST Racing, is a technology and services provider to numerous tracks, while RCN provides the communication link between AmTote and the racetracks.

    1/ST Racing president Aidan Butler said that while AmTote remained operative late Saturday afternoon, both the primary and secondary links to the affected tracks went down. The crash led to wagering disruptions at numerous tracks and guest locations (simulcast facilities) through AmTote’s mid-Atlantic hub, which includes Tampa Bay Downs.

    Service was returned to normal Sunday. An investigation is ongoing.

    The outage led to a half-hour delay before the 11th race, the Grade III Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, and resulted in it being declared a non-wagering race. The scheduled 12th and final race, an allowance for fillies and mares, was cancelled by Tampa Bay Downs track management due to approaching darkness.

    “The loss of our tote system resulted from circumstances entirely out of our control,” said Peter Berube, the Oldsmar oval’s Vice President & General Manager. “During the delay, we remained hopeful that service could be restored, and the horses for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby were taken to the paddock to prepare to go on the racetrack.

    “As the delay grew in length, the skies turned overcast, leading to concerns about running the 12th race in near-darkness. For the safety of those horses and jockeys, we knew the only prudent decision was to cancel the race.”

    Berube said the conditions surrounding the delay of the track’s showcase race and the subsequent race cancellation were unprecedented in his experience.

    “Customer satisfaction and trust are at the foundation of our business, and anything that erodes that needs to be addressed,” Berube said. “We knew Saturday that most of our patrons were totally unaware of the circumstances that led to our decisions – they wanted to know why they couldn’t cash their tickets from the 10th and why they couldn’t bet on the last two races.

    “The situation was surreal, to say the least, and for it to happen on our biggest racing day of the meet was nightmarish. Fortunately, we had a fair and exciting running of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, producing a deserving winner in Domestic Product.”

    Many bettors have questioned why winning tickets purchased earlier Saturday on the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby could not be cashed by establishing pools based on monies already wagered, rather than having their wagers refunded. Berube replied that despite the early wagering that went on, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby did not have anywhere near a full set of mutuel pools and wagers. Further, patrons could not wager on the race after the Florida Oaks had been run, nor could they cancel wagers made earlier.

    “Basically, the integrity of those pools would have been nonexistent,” he said.

    With hundreds of sites not being able to transmit wagers, calculate and receive updated odds information or stop betting, the decision to issue refunds on those wagers already made was deemed fairest for all involved.

     “When the shutdown took place, the pools for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby became compromised,” Berube said. “We sympathize with those bettors who would have won, but it’s conceivable the payoffs based on much-reduced pools could have caused bad feelings, also.”

    He added that the decision to pay off on multi-race wagers, such as Pick 3s, Pick 4s and Daily Doubles, by stipulating “ALL” winners of the 11th and 12th races was made in accordance with Florida parimutuel statutes, which are similar to nationwide standard rules whereby “no contest” or “no race” designations dictate awarding “ALL” runners as the “winners” for such legs.

    Berube said he hopes transparency in dealing with the questions posed by Saturday’s incredible events will placate the majority of patrons who may have left Tampa Bay Downs with a sour taste in their mouths. Even though the track was not responsible for the tote shutdown, he will continue to push officials to determine the cause.

    “For us as a racetrack, the timing could not have been any worse,” he said. “But we want our customers to know we value their business and their input, and we plan to work even harder to satisfy them moving forward.

Thursday, March 14, 2024
Consigned by Hartley/DeRenzo . . .

Hip No. 533, a son of Not This Time consigned by Hartley / DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, Agent was sold to Pro Racing Stable LLC, Agent, for $1.5-million to top the second session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2024 March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The bay colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5, is a half brother to stakes placed Pammy’s Ready out of Pammy Whammy, by War Front, from the family of stakes winner My Mogul.

    Hip No. 494, a son of Flatter consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, Agent, went to Marquee Bloodstock for $1.3-million. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an eighth in :9 4/5, is out of Napier, by OBS champion graduate Midnight Lute, a half sister to grade one stakes winner Obligatory.

    Hip No. 304, a daughter of Nyquist consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent, who turned in an Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5, went to Justin Casse, Agent, for $750,000. The chestnut filly is out of High Heeled Girl, by Malibu Moon, a daughter of grade one stakes placed stakes winner High Heeled Hope.

    Joey Platts paid $750,000 for Hip No. 529, a son of Tiz the Law also consigned by Hartley / DeRenzo Thoroughbreds. The bay colt, whose eighth in :9 3/5 was the day’s co-fastest, is out of graded stakes placed Our Majesty, by OBS graduate Majesticperfection, a half sister to stakes winner Overvalued.

    Hip No. 445, a son of champion OBS graduate Mitole consigned Eddie Woods, Agent, went to Speedway Stables, LLC for $725,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who worked an eighth in :9 4/5, is a half brother to graded stakes wining OBS graduate Midnight Stroll out of Midnight Magic, by champion OBS graduate Midnight Lute.  

    Hip 526, a son of Gun Runner consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent, was sold to Spendthrift Farm LLC & Frank Fletcher Racing for $725,000. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is a half brother to graded stakes winner Sister OToole out of O’Toole, by Distorted Humor.

    Hip No. 539, a son of Justify consigned by Pick View LLC, Agent, went to Donato Lanni, Agent for Zedan Racing for $700,000. The bay colt, whose quarter in :20 2/5 was the day’s co-fastest, is out of graded stakes placed stakes winner Pauseforthecause, by Giant’s Causeway, a daughter of graded stakes placed stakes winner Sprightly.

    Hip No. 421, a son of graded stakes winning OBS graduate Shancelot, consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent, was purchased by Bill Childs for $650,000. The dark bay or brown colt, whose eighth in :9 4/5 was the session’s co-fastest, is out of Magnolias in Bloom, by Flatter, a half sister to stakes winner Quinoa Tifah.

     Mitsu Nakauchida went to $600,000 for Hip No. 378, a son of Tapit consigned by S G V Thoroughbreds LLC (Steven Venosa), Agent. The chestnut colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is out of L’ Age d’Or, by Medaglia d’Oro, a daughter of grade one stakes winner Mona de Momma, dam of grade one stakes winner Vekoma.

    Jet Horse LLC, Peter Miller, Agent, went to $600,000 for Hip No. 499, a daughter of Twirling Candy consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :10 flat, is a half sister to Thanks Mr. Eidson out of Nest Egg, by Eskendereya.

    Hip No. 482, a daughter of Twirling Candy also consigned by Wavertree, was purchased for $575,000 by Saints or Sinners LLC. The bay filly, who breezed an eighth in :9 4/5, is out of My Day, by Uncle Mo, from the family of graded stakes winner Declaration of War.

    Hip No. 348, a son of Twirling Candy consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent, was sold for $550,000 to Case Clay Thoroughbred Management. The bay colt, who worked an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat, is out of Jotown, by Speightstown, a daughter of graded stakes winner Jojo Warrior.

    Hip No. 370, a daughter of American Pharoah who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat, was sold to Resolute Bloodstock for $525,000. The bay filly is a half sister to graded stakes winner Bellavais out of graded stakes winner La Cloche, by Ghostzapper.

    Hip No. 554, a son of Laoban, who worked an eighth in :9 4/5, was purchased by  Arthur Hoyeau, Agent, for $525,000 . The bay colt, consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent , is out of Princess Aspen, by Birdstone, a half sister to grade ones stakes winner Zazu.

    Boardshorts Stables, LLC, paid $510,000 for Hip No. 386, a daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) who worked an eighth in :10 1/5. Consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent, the dark bay or brown filly is a half sister to graded stakes winner Three Witches, recent winner of the Santa Monica Stakes (G2), out of Layreebelle, by Tale of the Cat.

    Hip No. 453, Racing Withthemoon, a daughter of Munnings consigned by Tom McCrocklin, Agent for Peter J. Mirabelli, was sold to Resolute Bloodstock for $500,000. The dark bay or brown filly, whose quarter in :20 2/5 was the session’s co-fastest at the distance, is out of Miss Majestic, by Majestic Warrior, a daughter of graded stakes winner Cassidy.

    Hip No. 325, a son of Improbable consigned by Majestic, Agent, went to James Divito, Agent for $475,000. The bay colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in a co-fastest :9 4/5, is out of stakes placed Inaugurate, by Empire Maker, from the family of graded stakes winner Top Rung.

    Hip No. 290, a daughter of City of Light consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent, was sold to Patricia’s Hope LLC for $435,000. The bay filly, whose Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5 was the session’s co-fastest, is out of Hassler (IRE), by War Front, a daughter of grade one stakes winning millionaire OBS graduate Turbulent Descent.

Thursday, March 14, 2024
Colt is consigned by Tom McCrocklin . . .

    Hip No. 173, a son of Tapit consigned by Tom McCrocklin, Agent for the Complete Dispersal for Lothenbach Stables, Inc., went to West Point Thoroughbreds /D J Stable /C J, LEB Agent, for $1,200,000 to top the first session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2024 March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The gray or roan colt, who galloped at the Under Tack Show, is a half-brother to graded stakes-winner She Can’t Sing out of Distorted Music, by Distorted Humor.

    Katsumi Yoshida went to $850,000 for Hip No. 183, consigned by Hartley / DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, Agent, a son of Not This Time who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. The dark bay or brown colt is out of Dos Vinos, by Twirling Candy, a half-sister to stakes-winner China Grove. 

    Hip No. 89, a son of McKinzie consigned by Wavertree Stables (Ciaran Dunne), Agent, was sold to Bill Childs for $750,000. The bay colt, whose Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5 was the session’s co-fastest at the distance, is a half-brother to graded stakes-placed stakes-winner Merveilleux out of Breech Inlet, by Holy Bull.

    Hip No. 106, a son of Uncle Mo consigned by Pick View, Agent, was purchased for $750,00 by B S W / Crow Colts Group & Spendthrift Farm. The bay colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5 is out of Canteen, by Candy Ride (ARG), from the family of graded stakes-placed stakes-winner Lady Melisi.

    Woodford Thoroughbreds went to $700,000 for Hip No. 26, a daughter of Munnings consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent. The bay filly, whose eighth in :9 4/5 was the day’s co-fastest, is a half-sister to Gr. I stakes-winner Denman’s Call, out of Ansaam by Bernardini.

    Hip No. 202, a son of OBS graduate Into Mischief consigned by Old South Farm, Agent, was sold to Muir Hut Stables for $700,000. The bay colt, who turned in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat, is out of graded stakes-winner Electric Forest, by Curlin, a daughter of graded stakes-winner Forest Music.

    Hip No. 267, a son of Curlin consigned by Pick View, Agent, went to On The Run Racing for $500,000. The bay colt, who turned in an Under Tack quarter in :21 2/5, is a half-brother to Gr. I stakes-winning OBS March graduate My Conquestadory out of stakes-placed Golden Artemis, by Malibu Moon.

    Hip No. 17 a son of McKinzie consigned by Kings Equine, Agent, was sold for $450,000 to Jones / Everett, for Belmar Racing, RA Hill & Gargan Racing. The dark bay or brown colt, who turned in a co-fastest Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5, is out of stakes-winner Altamura, by Artie Schiller, from the family of graded stakes-winner Private Creed.

    C H P Racing paid $450,000 for Hip No. 222, a daughter of Practical Joke consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent. The bay filly, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5, is out of Fierce Scarlett, by Scat Daddy, a half-sister to graded stakes-placed stakes-winner Thank U Philippe.

    Hip No. 30, a daughter of Bernardini consigned by Top Line Sales, Agent, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat, was sold to Simon Callaghan, Agent, for $400,000. The bay filly is out of Arbanne, by Midshipman, from the family of Gr. I stakes-winner Condo Commando.

    Hip No. 45, a son of Nyquist consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent, was purchased for $380,000 by Bradley Thoroughbreds for Rodeo Creek Racing. The chestnut colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5, is out of Bashful, by Orb, a half- sister to graded stakes-placed stakes-winner Left a Message.

    Hip No. 14, a son of Omaha Beach consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent, was sold to Case Clay Thoroughbred Management for $350,000, The bay colt, who worked an eighth in :10 flat at the Under Tack Show, is out of All Dressed Up, by Super Saver, a daughter of stakes-winner Dress the Part.

    Whitehorse Stables went to $350,000 for Hip No. 191, a son of Global Campaign consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent. The dark bay or brown colt, who breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5, is a half-brother to stakes-winner The Absolute One out of Driving Rain, by Storm Cat.

    For the session, 153 horses sold for $20,844,000, compared with 149 horses grossing $21,110,500 at last year’s first session. The average price was $136,235, compared with $141,681 a year ago, while the median price was $72,000 compared with $70,000 last year. The buyback percentage was 26.4 %; it was 22.8% in 2023.

 

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Meeting will have fewer race days per week . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The overnight purses during Gulfstream Park’s upcoming Spring/Summer Meet will receive significant increases from top to bottom over a season ago. Come April, upon the conclusion of the 2023-2024 Championship Meet, purses will be boosted in all categories from open handicaps to $6,250 claiming races with conditions.

    Gulfstream will race four days a week in April, May and June and three days from July through November. There will be turf racing throughout the spring and summer.


    The new and historic workers compensation plan will offer significant savings. The workers compensation program provides all state coverage with the exception of New York, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.


    “We expect the increase in purses, the new workers compensation program, and year-round turf racing will continue to strengthen Gulfstream’s overall program,” said Bill Badgett, Executive Director of Florida Racing Operations for Gulfstream Park.  

“With the increased purses, grass racing and our workers compensation program, Gulfstream is now the summer place to be,” said FTHA President Joe Orseno. “We are able to offer better purses and we hope this will encourage trainers and owners to keep horses at Gulfstream Park through the non-championship meet. A big thank you to 1/ST management and the FTHA purse committee for negotiating this competitive purse structure.”

     Open handicaps, which were contested for $60,000 last season, will offer purses worth $74,000. The purse for a $6,250 claiming race with conditions will be increased from $17,000 to $20,000.

    Open allowance races will offer purses $10,000 higher than 2023 levels, ranging from $61,000 to $63,000. Entry-level allowance races for Florida-breds will see a $5,000 increase from $43,000 to $48,000.

    Starter allowance purses will be increased from3,000 to $9,000, ranging from $25,000 to $49,000. Maiden special weight races will also be increased by $10,000 to $60,000. Maiden special weight races for Florida-breds will see increases from $40,000 to $48,000. A maiden race for $12,500 claiming horses will get a boost of $6,000 to $25,000. The purse for a $50,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds will be increased by $9,000 to $44,000. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024
Pletcher has won Derby 6 times . . .
    OLDSMAR - Thoroughbred trainers Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown will seek to extend their dominance of two of the premier stakes races on the Tampa Bay Downs calendar today.

    Pletcher is gunning for his seventh victory in the Gr. III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds with Heartened, who broke his maiden here in his fourth career start on the Sam F. Davis Stakes undercard on Feb. 10. Heartened’s 94 speed figure for the mile-and-40-yard distance matched the number earned later that day in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis by winner No More Time, the 7-5 morning-line favorite. 

    The Tampa Bay Derby is the 11th race on a 12-race Festival Day 44 program beginning at 11:55 a.m. Admission is $15, and each patron receives a “Mystery Mutuel Voucher” worth between $5-$1,000.

    Pletcher’s previous winners in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Oldsmar showcase include Limehouse (2004), Verrazano (2013), Carpe Diem (2015), Destin (2016), Tapwrit (2017) and Tapit Trice (2023). No other trainer has won the race more than twice.

    Heartened will break from the No. 1 post in the 10-horse field under jockey Jose Ortiz, who rode him in last month’s victory.

    While Pletcher’s record in the Tampa Bay Derby is staggering, Brown’s preeminence in the Gr. II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward is otherworldly. He has sent out the winner in six of the last 12 runnings of the mile-and-an-eighth turf event: Zagora (2012), Stephanie’s Kitten (2015), Fourstar Crook (2018), Rymska (2019), Bleecker Street (2022) and Shantisara (2023).

    Pletcher, with four victories, is the only other trainer to win the Hillsborough more than twice, most recently in 2013 with Old Tune.

    Today, Brown will send out two horses in the eight-horse field: Fluffy Socks and Marketsegmentation, who will break from the Nos. 1 and 2 posts under brothers Irad Ortiz, Jr., and Jose Ortiz, respectively. Marketsegmentation is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, followed by Fluffy Socks at 3-1. The Hillsborough is the ninth race.

    Pletcher does not have a horse in the Hillsborough. His only other stakes entrant on the card is Dynamic One, a 6-year-old who will compete in the Gr. III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes, scheduled as the sixth race.

    Brown, by contrast, trains seven of today’s 46 stakes entrants. In addition to Fluffy Socks and Marketsegmentation, he has two horses in the Tampa Bay Derby, two in the Gr. III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf and one in the $75,000, 1-mile Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

    Brown has had only three previous starters in the Tampa Bay Derby, with none finishing better than sixth. Both of his horses in this year’s race – Good Money, who will break from the No. 4 post under Irad Ortiz Jr., and Domestic Product, who will start from the No. 5 post under Tyler Gaffalione – appear to be heading in the right direction with even bigger 3-year-old races on the near horizon.

     Good Money broke his maiden here on Jan. 26 going 7 furlongs in his lone career start. Domestic Product, who is the 8-5 second choice on the morning line, is the more highly regarded of the Brown runners, having finished a solid second with blinkers off in the Gr. III, mile-and-a-sixteenth Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park to unbeaten Hades.

    Domestic Product broke his maiden as a 2-year-old on Oct. 27 at the Belmont At Aqueduct meet going a mile-and-an-eighth.

    Brown has two horses in the Florida Oaks, a race he has won three times – with Dolce Zel in 2022, Domain Expertise in 2021 and Testa Rossi in 2014. Brown is tied with Bill Mott and Neil J. Howard for the most winners in race history.

    Brown’s Weigh the Risks will break from the No. 10 post in a 12-horse field under Irad Ortiz, directly inside 7-2 morning-line favorite Dynamic Pricing and Jose Ortiz.

    Weigh the Risks will make her first start since breaking her maiden on Sept. 3 at Saratoga in a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf race, also with Irad aboard. Dynamic Pricing is also 1-for-2 and finished third on Feb. 3 in the Gr. III Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream, a neck behind runner-up Style Points, another Florida Oaks contender trained by Christophe Clement.

    Brown’s remaining stakes entry on the card (he has four others entered) is Move to Gold, a stakes-winner who will be ridden by Irad in the Columbia. Move to Gold is the 5-2 morning-line favorite.





Monday, March 4, 2024
Multiple winners take advantage of mandatory payout . . .

  HALLANDALE BEACH - A mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool yielded multiple payoffs of $35,544 Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

    The multi-race wager had gone unsolved for 17 days following a Feb. 8 jackpot hit, leaving a pool carryover of $834,368 heading into Sunday’s wagering. A total of $5,110,271 was bet on the sequence that spanned Races 6-11. The winning combination was
4-6-8-6-12-12.

    On mandatory-payout days, the entire Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is paid out to the bettor or bettors with the most winners in the wager’s six-race sequence. The carryover jackpot is usually only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool usually goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winner, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot poo
l.

    The Rainbow 6 will start anew Wednesday.

    Who’s Hot: Paco Lopez notched a three-win day, doubling aboard Macuto ($18.80) in Race 2 and St. Pat’s Day ($21.20) in Race 8 before scoring aboard American Diamond ($22) in Race 10.  Jose Ortiz made two trips to the winner’s circle aboard Movin’ On Top ($4.60) in Race 5 and Sedona ($5.40) in Race 7.


Leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. won three races, connecting with Speed Control ($5.60) in Race 1, Movin’ On Up ($4.60) in Race 5, and American Diamond ($22) in Race 10.

Sunday, March 3, 2024
Had won Pasco Stakes at Tampa by 12 1/2 lengths . . .
    OLDSMAR – After arriving back in Florida from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Friday, trainer Derek Ryan decided to unwind by taking his 18-year-old son Christopher to Palm Beach Gardens for yesterday’s third round of the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches golf tournament at PGA National Resort.

    While enjoying the shot-making by many of the world’s best golfers, Ryan sounded no worse for wear after the whirlwind events of a week ago, which saw his 3-year-old New Jersey-bred gelding Book’em Danno get nipped at the wire by unbeaten Japanese star Forever Young in the $1.5-million Saudi Derby at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

    Ryan put Book’em Danno on a van for the airport Thursday, headed for Chicago and a mandatory one-week quarantine imposed on all of the U.S. horses that competed in the Saudi Cup Day races.

    “He was great after the race, no problem,” Ryan said of Book’em Danno, who had won the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 13 by 12 ½ lengths to earn an invitation to the Saudi Derby. “I had to gallop him over there two days after the race. He’s a tough little horse. Like they say, he’s hickory.” The  gelding is by Bucchero, formerly at Ocala's Pleasant Acres Stallions and recently relocated to New York. 

    Speculation abounded afterward that Book’em Danno might have lost focus late in the race, and that neither horse nor rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., were fully aware of Forever Young’s rally as the Japanese horse charged home for all he was worth on the far outside of the track under jockey Ryusei Sakai to improve to 4-for-4.

    “I think if (Forever Young) came up right beside him, he doesn’t get beat,” said Ryan, who trains Book’em Danno for Atlantic Six Racing. “It’s a long stretch there, and we ended up in front a little sooner than we wanted.”

    Forever Young was timed in 1:36.17 for the one-turn, 1,600-meter race (about a mile) as both horses shattered the track record for the distance. Book’em Danno is 4-for-6 with three stakes victories and two seconds to his credit, and the $300,000 second-place prize raised his career earnings to $560,625.


    While Forever Young is expected to compete next in the United Arab Emirates Derby on March 30 at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai as his connections seek a possible date in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4, Ryan has other targets in mind for Book’em Danno. For now, though, he’s keeping his cards close to the vest.

 
 Ryan, who picked out the Saudi Derby last fall for Book’em Danno, said he has numerous options for the horse’s late spring and summer campaigns. The Gr. I, $500,000 Woody Stephens on June 8, Belmont Stakes Day, seems a logical possibility, as it is for 3-year-olds going 7 furlongs (the Belmont Stakes card will be conducted this year at Saratoga).

   But for now, Ryan doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself. He has one of the most exciting 3-year-olds in training, even if he isn’t a Triple Crown candidate, and the worldwide publicity he and Book’em Danno garnered for their courageous effort and the conditioner’s sportsmanship after the heart-rending setback are good things.


And, Ryan pointed out between golf shots as his Irish countryman Shane Lowry dueled for the lead, Tampa Bay Downs received its fair share of positive exposure from the experience, too.

    “There are a lot of Saudi Arabians going around with Tampa Bay Downs hats,” he said. “I think I brought eight or 10 with me, but I should have brought a bunch more.”
Sunday, March 3, 2024
Mage's full brother scores at 1/5 . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, made a significant step along the Road to the Triple Crown Saturday at Gulfstream Park, scoring a commanding victory in the $400,000, Gr. II Coolmore Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park as the 1-5 favorite.

    The 78th running of the Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds that serves as a key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby on March 30, headlined a spectacular 14-race program that featured nine stakes, eight graded.

    Dornoch has earned 60 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby after collecting 50 in the Fountain of Youth.

    “We could run in the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass (at Keeneland April 6),” trainer Danny Gargan said. “We’re lucky enough now where we can pick our spot. Sixty points usually gets you in, so now we’re on cruise control. We’ll figure out where we want to go next and try to enjoy this for a minute.”

    The Fountain of Youth field was reduced to five when Speak Easy was scratched after unseating jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and running off directly following the post parade. The field had already lost Merit, who finished second behind Conquest Warrior in a Friday optional claiming allowance, as well as Locked, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, and Victory Avenue, who finished second behind Speak Easy in his debut, both of whom were withdrawn Saturday morning.

    Owned by West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables, Dornoch took advantage of the scratch of Speak Easy, who showed brilliant speed in a highly promising debut victory on Jan. 27. The son of Good Magic rounded the first turn outside 25-1shot Le Dom Bro, before taking the lead for good at the top of the backstretch under Luis Saez. Real Macho was kept in relatively close pursuit by Tyler Gaffalione as Dornoch set fractions of :24.39 and :48.14 for the first half-mile
.

    As Real Macho dropped back, Le Dom Bro tried to make a race of it again leaving the turn into the stretch under Edwin Gonzalez, but Dornoch remained strong in the stretch run to win by 1 ¾ lengths.

    “We didn’t want to be on the lead but when [Speak Easy] scratched, he gets out there and he kind of plays around. You can see him with his ears kind of goofing off. I told Luis, ‘Just go ahead and go,” Gargan said. “We had no choice. We really wanted to stalk today, it just didn’t work out that way. He won fine enough. Surely it won’t be his fastest race. We didn’t expect to win today. It just kind of played out that way. I don’t think he ran very hard. He was just kind of playing around out there.”

    Dornoch, who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.64, was making his 2024 debut after capturing the Dec. 2, Gr. II Remsen at Aqueduct, fighting back to score a nose decision over Sierra Leone, who won the Gr. II Risen Star at Fair Grounds in his 3-year-old debut.

    “I was very confident. I had a lot of horse,” Saez said. “I knew he was going to give me another gear. He always does. He’s just a good horse. I’m very happy.”

    Co-owner R. A. Hill went into the Fountain of Youth with confidence in Dornoch.

     “I wasn’t that worried to be honest. We got lucky with the scratches, but I was pretty confident all along. I think this horse is the real deal,” Hill said. “He won today, Luis stood up about halfway down the stretch. We get the two scratches, which of course was lucky, but you got to run against who’s in the game. We’ll probably run in the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass. It’s up to Danny.”


Le Dom Bro, a son of Mucho Macho Man who had finished second in the seven-furlong Swale on Feb. 3 after he finished ninth behind Dornoch in the Remsen, held second, a neck in front of Frankie’s Empire, the Swale winner who chased the top two throughout the race.

    “I’m really happy. The horse ran good,” Le Dom Bro’s trainer Eniel Cordero said. “I talked to Edwin, and I said to get some position and then go. He’s a good horse. The more distance the better for him. I’ll talk to the owner and see what’s next. We have a good horse.”


Thursday, February 29, 2024
Gr. II, $400,000 race goes on March 9 . . .
    OLDSMAR - The top two finishers in the Gr. III Sam F. Davis Stakes, No More Time and Agate Road, and two of the top-10 horses in the Daily Racing Form “Derby Watch” rankings, are among 40 3-year-olds nominated for the 44th running of the Gr. III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday, March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

    The Tampa Bay Derby, contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main dirt track, awards 50 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points to the winner toward qualifying for the 150th Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

    The Tampa Bay Derby is one of five stakes races worth a combined $1 million in purse money on the Festival Day 44 card. The others are the Gr. II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf course; the Gr. III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, also on the turf; the Gr. III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes, for horses 4-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track; and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the
turf.

    Tickets for Festival Day 44 are $15 and are available online at www.tampabaydowns.com or at the
 gate on March 9 (cash only). Each patron will receive a “Mystery Mutuel Voucher” worth between $5-$1,000. The gates will open at about 10:30 a.m.

    In addition to No More Time, the No. 16-ranked “Derby Watch” colt who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 10 in gate-to-wire fashion under jockey Paco Lopez for owner Morplay Racing and trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo, and Agate Road, who closed with good energy under jockey Jose Ortiz for trainer Todd Pletcher, the No. 3-ranked horse on the “Derby Watch” rankings, Pletcher’s colt Locked, is among the nominees. He has not raced since running third in last year’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

    Agate Road and Locked are among seven Pletcher 3-year-olds nominated to the Tampa Bay Derby. Rival trainer Chad Brown has four nominees, including 13th-ranked “Derby Watch” horse Domestic Product. The Klaravich Stables-owned colt finished second to Hades on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park in the Gr. III Holy Bull Stakes.

    Hades, a Florida-bred trained by Joseph Orseno who is 3-for-3, is also nominated, as is trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey III’s promising Conquest Warrior, who is ninth on the “Derby Watch” list.


    Also nominated is trainer Derek Ryan’s gelding Book’em Danno, who finished second by a nose to Japanese runner Forever Young on Saturday in the $1.5-million Saudi Derby. The Hillsborough Stakes has drawn 21 nominations, headed by Grade I winners Marketsegmentation and Aspen Grove.

    Marketsegmentation, a 5-year-old mare owned by Klaravich and trained by Brown, captured the Gr. I New York Stakes last June at Belmont Park, while the 4-year-old filly Aspen Grove, owned by Ocala's Glen Hill Farm and Mrs. John Magnier and trained by Jack Sisterson, won the Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-olds a month later.


    Also nominated is Pletcher’s 5-year-old Surprisingly, who finished third in last year’s Hillsborough after winning the Gr. III Endeavour Stakes here five weeks earlier. Bred and previously owned by Phipps Stable and trained at the time by McGaughey, Surprisingly was purchased by Repole Stable for $1 million at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale and transferred to Pletcher’s barn.

    Brown has won the last two editions of the Hillsborough Stakes, four of the last six and six overall. Brown and Pletcher’s abundance of high-quality turf horses seems to extend to 3-year-old fillies, with both conditioners nominating five to the Florida Oaks. Another four come from the barn of Ocalan Mark Casse.

    Brown’s quintet includes two sophomore fillies owned by Klaravich Stables in Dynamic Pricing and Oversubscribed. Dynamic Pricing followed a maiden victory in her career debut in November at Aqueduct with a game third-place finish on Feb. 3 in the Gr. III Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

    Among Pletcher’s nominees is the Sweetest Chant winner, Repole Stable’s Life’s an Audible, while Christophe Clement has nominated Sweetest Chant runner-up Style Points. Casse’s nominees include Resolute Racing’s Pounced, 2-for-3 after an impressive allowance/optional claiming victory on Feb. 11 at Gulfstream.


    The Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes closed with 25 nominations. That collection includes last year’s Challenger winner, 5-year-old Skippylongstocking, who added the Gr. II Charles Town Classic to his ledger in August for trainer Saffie A. Joseph Jr.

    Another nominee with strong Oldsmar form is trainer Roger Attfield’s 7-year-old Shirl’s Speight, a Gr. I winner who captured the 2022 Gr. III Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf. Brittany Russell has nominated her multiple graded stakes-winning 4-year-old colt, Instant Coffee, while Pletcher’s five nominees include 6-year-old Dynamic One, who won the Gr. II Suburban Stakes in 2022 at Belmont but has since raced only three times.


    The Columbia Stakes, previously known as the Chris Thomas Turf Classic, has attracted 35 nominations, including a single filly: Poolside With Slim, who broke her maiden on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream by 5 ½ lengths for owners Glen S. Bromagen II and Patrick Lewis and trainer George R. “Rusty” Arnold II.

    Other good-looking Columbia nominees include Hoolie Racing Stable’s Two Ghosts, who won the Gr. III Grey Stakes on Nov. 4 at Woodbine, trained by Barbara Minshall; Shards, trainer Kelsey Danner’s Florida-bred colt who finished a respectable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita; Patriot Spirit, who won the Inaugural Sakes here on Dec. 2 for trainer Michael Campbell; conditioner Arnaud Delacour’s Fulmineo, runner-up in the Gr. II Pilgrim Stakes on Oct. 4 at the Belmont At The Big A meet; and trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo’s Full Nelson, who has won three races in a row while climbing the class ladder.
Monday, February 26, 2024
Mandatory payout set for Sunday . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - The 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have an estimate pool of $700,000 when racing resumes Wednesday at Gulfstream Park with a 1:10 p.m. first race post time.

    A mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 pool has been scheduled for Sunday. The week will also feature Saturday’s 78th running of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, Gulfstream’s next step for 3-year-olds on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby on March 30. The 14-race Saturday program features nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.85 million in purses.

    Wednesday’s sequence will begin with Race 3, a maiden claiming event for fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards on Tapeta. The day’s featured seventh race will be a $91,000 allowance optional claiming event at 1 ½ miles on the turf for 4-year-olds and up. Value Engineering, winner of last winter’s Gr. II Mac Diarmida are among the 10 entered.
Monday, February 26, 2024
3yo Palace Zip wins in first start . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Bridlewood Farm homebred Palace Zip, a first-time starter by Palace Malice, came with a steady run down the center of the track to surge past Reina Mar and Mi Amore and give trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. his 1,000th career win in Sunday’s finale at Gulfstream Park.

  Ridden by Edgard Zayas and sent off the 5-2 favorite in a field of eight, Palace Zip ($7) covered 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather Tapeta in 1:43.58 to capture the maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies. It was Joseph’s lone starter on Sunday’s program.

    “It’s amazing,” Joseph said after being recognized and posing for photos in a winner’s circle ceremony. “I remember the first one and here we are at 1,000. The first probably 200 took five or six years and it was a struggle, and the last 800 have come pretty quickly. We’ve gotten the opportunities from the owners and that’s what you need. Without the owners, you can’t do it. There’s no trainer without horses, and the owners produce the horses.”

    A native of Barbados, the 37-year-old Joseph has won eight consecutive titles at Gulfstream Park since finishing second during the 2020-2021 Championship Meet. He has led the nation’s premiere winter gathering each of the past two years, dethroning 18-time winner and Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

    Joseph is on track for a third straight Championship Meet title, leading the 2023-2024 stand in wins (47), starters (223) and purses earned ($2.37 million). Among his victories are six stakes-winners, including O’Connor in the Gr. III Harlan’s Holiday, R Harper Rose in the Gr. III Forward Gal and Honor D Lady in the Gr. III Royal Delta.

    Married with two children, Joseph is a third-generation horseman following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. At the age of 22, he became the youngest trainer to win the Barbados Triple Crown with Areutalkintome in 2009.

    Joseph came to the U.S. two years later and finished seventh with his first starter, Go Zapper, on April 10, 2011 at Tampa Bay Downs. His first win came on June 19, 2011 at Calder Race Course with Artefacto, and he saddled his first stakes- winner, Saraguaro, in the 2015 Foolish Pleasure at Gulfstream Park.

    Math Wizard, a horse he claimed for $25,000, put Joseph on the national stage by winning the 2019, Gr. I  Pennsylvania Derby, the trainer’s first graded stakes victory. Joseph has 33 career graded triumphs including Gr. 1 success with White Abarrio in the 2022 Florida Derby, Mischevious Alex in the Carter Handicap and Drain the Clock in the Woody Stephens, both in 2021.

    Joseph set career highs with 201 wins in 2021 and $10.66 million in purse earnings last year. He has trained three millionaires – Skippylongstocking, Math Wizard and White Abarrio – and has ranked in the top 12 nationally in wins and/or purse earnings since 2020.

    Other top horses trained by Joseph include multiple graded-stakes winners O’Connor, Officiating and Tonalist’s Shape, as well as Three Witches, last year’s winner of Gulfstream’s Gr. III Princess Rooney who went on to be third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

    “We’re only as good as what the owners give us. That’s what makes trainers,” Joseph said. “We have to take care of them with the staff, and that’s what makes me. I’m one person that is head of 80 people that make me and make us as a unit. It’s not just me, it’s a credit to the whole staff. It’s a whole crew that makes this success possible and I’m very thankful to be in this position.”

Sunday, February 25, 2024
Leinster is sponsor of both $100,000 Stakes . . .

    (Joe and Helen Barbazon and their Pleasant Acres Stallions were well-represented in various ways at the big day of racing at Tampa Bay Downs yesterday. Leinster, who stands at the farm, had both featured stakes races named after him; Jordi's Dream, third in the $100,000 Leinster Lightning City Stakes is by Pleasant Acres' red-hot stallion, Neolithic; and Extendo, second by a neck in the $100,000 Leinster Turf Dash stakes is by former Pleasant Acres stallion Handsome Mike and was bred by the Barbazons in partnership with Ed Seltzer and Beverly Anderson).

    OLDSMAR - Few sounds you’ll hear are as joyous, and filled with love and gratitude, or as loud as the high-pitched yells coming from trainer Douglas Nunn after his 8-year-old gelding Smithwick’s Spice hung on under jockey Daniel Centeno to win the 21st running of the $100,000 Leinster Turf Dash Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by a neck from Extendo.


    Nunn trained the winner’s dam, Spicy McHaggis, and his siblings. He has always believed in Smithwick’s Spice, but had doubts about entering him against the quality of competition in the Leinster Turf Dash.

    “I liked him cutting back in distance today (following a good second going 1 1/16-mile earlier this month at Gulfstream Park), but these were not just New Jersey-bred horses,” Nunn said once his state of near-hysteria subsided. “I was all ready to scratch him, but the owner (New Spice Stable’s Robert Matthies) said let’s take a shot.

    “He had never run against the big boys, and I didn’t want to take his heart away. But he showed he can run with the big boys,” added Nunn, who broke Smithwick’s Spice as a yearling.

    In the co-feature on the Turf Sprint Showcase Day card, Play the Music overcame early trouble to win the $100,000 Leinster Lightning City Stakes for older fillies and mares under jockey Antonio Gallardo. 

    Smithwick’s Spice’s time for the 5 furlongs on the grass was :55.98 seconds. Yes I Am Free, the wagering favorite, flattened out in the stretch and finished third, a half-length behind Extendo and ¾-lengths ahead of Thealligatorhunter. Storm the Court, the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, was a late scratch.

    Smithwick’s Spice paid $14.20 to win. He improved to 10-for-40 lifetime and the winner’s share of $45,000 raised his career earnings to $508,847. His only other stakes victory came in the 2022 Joey P. Handicap at Monmouth Park.

    Once Smithwick’s Spice showed Centeno he wanted the lead, the jockey rolled with the veteran campaigner and was richly rewarded. “He fought the entire way. I’ve ridden him before and he’s always run good for me,” Centeno said. “When I turned for home I saw (Antonio) Gallardo (on Yes I Am Free) outside me and I thought, he’s not going to go by me. My horse likes to fight, and he ran big today.” The victory was the first for Nunn at the meet from 15 starts. 

    “The reason I’m still here doing this is this horse,” Nunn said after rejoicing with his wife, Maria Claire Van Sant. “When this horse retires, I’ll retire. He doesn’t want to retire yet, so I guess I’m going to keep on going.

    “When you hang a bridle on some horses, it’s hard because they don’t always give you what they have. This horse has given everything he has from Day 1,” Nunn added, tears flowing freely.

    In the 21st running of the Leinster Lightning City Stakes, supplemental entry Play the Music launched an impressive stretch rally under Gallardo and rolled to a 2 ½-length victory from the other supplemental entry in the race, Howboutdemapples. Pace-setter Jordi’s Dream, a 50-1 shot, held on well for third. Covenant Lady closed well to be fourth.

    A scary moment occurred earlier in the stretch run when betting favorite Just a Care bumped with Howboutdemapples while trying to angle between rivals, causing Just a Care’s jockey Samy Camacho to lose his balance and fall from his mount. Camacho, the track’s leading jockey, walked back to the jockeys’ room after laying on the turf for about 2-3 minutes and was able to return to ride Sky’s Not Falling in the Leinster Turf Dash.

    Earlier in the race at about the 3/8-mile pole, Just a Care and Camacho came over on Play the Music while seeking position on the turn, forcing Gallardo to check sharply. But he was able to swing Play the Music outside, and from there the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred made quick work of her rivals en route to her fourth victory and first stakes triumph from 10 starts.

    Play the Music is owned by Glassman Racing and trained by Mark Casse. Her time for the 5-furlong distance was :55.98 seconds, .89 seconds off Jean Elizabeth’s 2020 stakes record.

    The 4-year-old Just a Care finished with good energy while riderless and was reported to be in good shape after returning to the backside. But her difficulties didn’t detract from the quality of Play the Music’s victory.

“(Casse’s assistant, Jimmy Miranda) told me this filly was ready, and that’s what she showed,” Gallardo said. “Thank God I could put her in gear again after getting checked. She gave me everything and I was able to get her in the clear and into the race.”

    Play the Music had won her previous race, a 7 ½-furlong turf event on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park, but this may have been her best career performance. “Antonio had her tucked inside early, which was perfect,” Miranda said. “Then he was able to swing her outside and get her in the clear to make her run. If you read Chapter 7, that’s what it says to do.”

Thursday, February 22, 2024
Stallion stands at Pleasant Acres . . .

    OLDSMAR - By Saturday afternoon, the waiting will be over for 18 turf sprinters primed to show their best stuff against stakes competition.

    Postponed last week by a rainy weather forecast that lived up to its billing, the $100,000 Leinster Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward and the $100,000 Leinster Turf Dash for horses 4-and-upward will be held on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.

    Saturday's weather forecast calls for plenty of sunshine, with temperatures reaching the upper 60s.
    
    Both 5-furlong races have drawn nine horses, with 4-year-old filly Awesome Pic a “main track only” entrant in the Leinster Lightning City, which is scheduled as the seventh race. The Leinster Turf Dash is the ninth race.


    The first of 10 races begins at 12:18 . Saturday's card also includes the third legs of the Tampa Turf Test, as starter handicap event for older horses of both sexes which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2023-24. The distance of both Tampa Turf Test races is a mile-and-an-eighth.

    The field for the Leinster Turf Dash is headed by a pair of graded stakes-winners, Yes I Am Free and Storm the Court. Yes I Am Free, an 8-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Golden Kernel Racing Stable and trained by Laura Cazares, has earned more than $750,000 in his career, highlighted by victories in the Gr. III Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes in 2022 and 2023. Antonio Gallardo has been named to ride Yes I Am Free.

    Storm the Court has two lifetime victories from 24 starts, but one came in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2019 at Santa Anita. The 7-year-old’s career earnings exceed $1.4-million.

    Owned by David A. Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Peter Eurton and trained by William E. Morey, Storm the Court has finished second in two Tampa Bay Downs starts, both at the Leinster Turf Dash distance. Pablo Morales is the jockey.

    Another likely contender is Sky’s Not Falling, a hard-knocking 6-year-old gelding owned by R. Larry Johnson and R. D. M. Racing Stable and trained by Michael Trombetta. Samy Camacho has been named to ride. Sky’s Not Falling has won almost $400,000 in his career, highlighted by a victory in the 2022 Maryland Million Turf Sprint Stakes at Laurel.

    The Leinster Lightning City appears to be a wide-open affair. The field includes two stakes-winners: Boo Boo Kitty, owned by Rice Racing and trained by Kevin Rice, and She’s My Warrior, owned by Peter Mattson and Tim Padilla and trained by Padilla.

  Boo Boo Kitty, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare, will be ridden by Morales. She won the 2022 Satin and Lace Stakes at Presque Isle Downs, but will be making her first start in more than 16 months.

    She’s My Warrior, a 5-year-old owned by Peter Mattson and Tim Padilla and trained by Padilla, is a two-time stakes-winner at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. She will be ridden by Alonso Quinonez.

Thursday, February 22, 2024
National Treasure won $20 million Pegasus . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Three of the first four finishers from Gulfstream’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, and a Florida Derby winner, will lead a field of 14 Saturday in the $20 million Saudi Cup.

    Fans can watch and wager on the Saudi Cup at Gulfstream Park Saturday. Post time for the Saudi Cup is 12:40 p.m. Gulfstream will also show the Neom Turf Cup and Red Sea Turf Handicap prior to the Saudi Cup.

    Pegasus winner National Treasure and runner-up Senor Buscador have made the trip for the Saudi Cup along with Hoist the Gold, who finished fourth. Bob Baffert, trainer of National Treasure, has also entered Defunded, second in the 2023 Pegasus World Cup.

    Joining those three is Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner White Abarrio, winner of the 2022 Florida Derby, and Japan’s Ushba Tesoro, winner of the 2023 Dubai World Cup (G1) and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classi
c.

            
Sunday, February 18, 2024
Maryquitecontrary finishes 3rd . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Final Furlong Farm and Madaket Stable’s Honor D Lady made her 4-year-old debut a memorable one Saturday by running away from nine others down the stretch to win the $150,000, Gr. III Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park.

    Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Honor D Lady covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.74. Soul of an Angel was second and Maryquitecontrary rallied for the show. Honor D Lady returned $11.40.


    Honor D Lady ended her 3-year-old season with a third-place finish in the Gr. III Comely at Aqueduct in November after winning the Gr. III Remington Park Oaks in September. Earlier in the year she won the Honey Ryder at Gulfstream.

    Honor D Lady was settled off a :23.33 and :46.85 pace set by longshot Yuki before making her move around the final turn outside another Joseph runner in Libban. She entered the stretch with a clear advantage and the victory was never in doubt. It was the third win of the afternoon for Ortiz.


    “I watched the replay of when she won at Remington and Saffie told me how he wanted her to be ridden, so I followed instructions,” Ortiz said. “We wanted to go forward and if I could work my way to the clear, do that. I did that, and it worked out great.” “She ran big today off the layoff and we’re very happy to have a filly like this in our barn,” Joseph said. 

    Honor D Lady has now won on turf, dirt and Tapeta. Joseph said the Gr. I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 13 might be the filly’s next start.

     Maryquitecontrary, a daughter of First Dude, had won seven of 13 starts, including seven for 10 at Gulfstream, and was coming into the Royal Delta off a third-place finish in the Gr. II Inside Information. But she had never raced around two turns. The filly rallied for the show.

    Tizzy in the Sky finished fourth. She was making her 5-year-old debut for trainer Todd Pletcher and was making her first start since finishing second Dec. 2 in the Gr. III Go For Wand at Aqueduct over a muddy track. She had won the Honey Ryder Stakes at Gulfstream in May.


    The Royal Delta is named in honor of Besilu Stable’s Hall of Fame mare who earned $4.8 million while racing between 2010 and 2013. Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta was a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic as well as the Gr. I Beldame Invitational, Gr. I Alabama Stakes and Gr. II Black-Eyed Susan. The daughter of Empire Maker won the Gr. III Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream twice.

         
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
First Dude's 3rd highest earner . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH – Dr. Rod Lundock’s Maryquitecontrary will certainly be familiar with her surroundings Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the ultra-consistent 5-year-old mare has finished in the money in all 10 of her starts, including seven victories.

    The graded stakes-winning daughter of First Dude will be a stranger of sorts, however, when she puts her enviable one-turn record on the line in the $150,000, Gr. III Royal Delta, having never been tested around two turns at Gulfstream or elsewhere during her 13-race career.

    Maryquitecontrary drew the No. 2 post position for the 1 1/16-mile Royal Delta, which drew a field of 11 older fillies and mares.

    “I think it’s time for her to try. If she can go a mile on dirt, why not a mile and a sixteenth around two turns?’ trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “She drew good, I think, post position-wise. I like that post. We’ll find something out. Anytime I run a horse and find something out, it’s not a wasted effort no matter what happens for me.”

    Maryquitecontrary has won twice in her only two races at a one-turn mile, capturing back-to-back editions of the Rampart Stakes, including a going-away one-length victory in her first start for Plesa Dec. 30. She came back to finish third Jan. 27 in the Gr. II Inside Information, a seven-furlong test she won in 2023 by 2 ½ lengths.

    “She’s pretty straightforward. She’s a very sound horse. You don’t have to worry about stuff like that. She’s fun to be around. She has a personality – not all horses do,” Plesa said. “It’s nice to be around her. It’s nice to go to the barn everyday and see her in that stall. She appreciates all the extra TLC, which she certainly deserves. But we try to give them all a little TLC.”

    Maryquitecontrary has employed a drop-back, late-kick running style while amassing a bankroll of $622,805 during a career that includes a close second-place finish behind Goodnight Olive in the 2023 Gr. I Madison. Regular jockey Luca Panici has the return mount.

    Saffie Joseph Jr., the two-time defending Championship Meet titlist who currently leads this season’s trainer standings, is represented by four in the Royal Delta field – Final Furlong Farm and Madaket Stable’s Honor D Lady, Vegso Racing Stable’s Imonra, Sean Defreitas’ Rosie’s Halo and C2 Racing Stable and Paul Braverman’s Libban.

    Honor D Lady has earned the distinction of having been triumphant on dirt, turf and Tapeta. The 4-year-old daughter of Honor Code, who captured the Honey Ryder on turf last spring and finished second in the Gr. III Selene over Woodbine’s Tapeta course, is coming off a pair of solid efforts in graded stakes on dirt.

    Honor D Lady captured the Sept. 24, Gr. III Remington Park Oaks before concluding her 3-year-old campaign with a solid third-place finish in the Nov. 25, Gr. III Comely at Aqueduct.

    “After the last race it was by design to give her a little break and point to the Royal Delta. Everything has gone according to plan, so she goes in there with a good chance,” Joseph said. “She’s drawn well. She’s going to need to improve facing older horses for the first time, but it seems like she has improved and since she’s gone to the dirt she’s gotten better.” Jose Ortiz has the call.

    Imonra enters the Royal Delta off a second-place finish behind Maryquitecontrary in the Rampart. The 4-year-old daughter of Violence finished second in the Gr. III Iowa Oaks last season. Rosie’s Halo finished fourth in the Rampart. Libban won a Gulfstream optional claiming allowance by four lengths before finishing fourth in the Jan. 13 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Edgard Zayas has the return mount on Imonra, while Javier Castellano will ride Rosie’s Halo for the first time. Edwin Gonzalez has the call on Libban.

    KimDon Racing’s Tizzy in the Sky, a vastly improved 5-year-old daughter of Sky Kingdom, is slated to make her 2024 debut in the Royal Delta after finishing her 2023 campaign with a runner-up finish in the Dec. 2, Gr. III Go For Wand at Aqueduct. Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has awarded the mount to Irad Ortiz Jr.

    Godolphin’s Nostalgic, who finished second in the Nov. 18, Gr. II Chilukki at Churchill Downs before finishing a disappointing sixth in the Rampart; Mark Grier’s Opus Forty Two, a multiple graded stakes-placed daughter of Mendelssohn who captured the Wayward Lass;  Haras Lizzie Inc.’s Yuki, a winner at Del Mar and Los Alamitos last season; Gerald James and Hall Performance’s South of an Angel, an optional claiming allowance at Tampa last time out; and Whitham Thoroughbreds’ Magical Lute, who finished third in the Wayward Lass; round out the field.
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
3yo filly has earned $99,000 . . .
    Michael Lund Petersen’s Kinza (Carpe Diem – Secret Wonder) is two for two and a graded stakes-winner, going straight to the front and never looking back en route to a two-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000, Gr. III Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old filly by millionaire OBS graduate Carpe Diem was purchased for $30,000 out of the Summerfield consignment at the 2022 OBS October Sale and has earned $99,000 to date. 

    Victoriam Farm’s Stone Silent (Adios Charlie – Travelator) led a 1-2-3 OBS sweep of Gulfstream’s $115,000 Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes on Sunday, taking over turning for home, opening daylight in the stretch and finishing best by 2/14 lengths over Choose Joy (Munnings – Elegantly), with Fulminate (Get Stormy – E Built This City) settling for third. It’s the third stakes victory for the 4-year-old Florida-bred filly by Adios Charlie, trained by Brian Lynch, now 1-4-2-1 with $290,838 in earnings. Consigned by Ocala Stud, Agent, to the 2022 OBS March Sale, she was sold for $410,000 after working an Under Tack quarter in :20 2/5. 
 

    Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Bin Aziz’ Just For Sul (Justify – Susie’s Baby) romped to a 3 1/2 length victory in the Gr. III Japan’s Cup on Friday at Riyadh, taking command on the turn and drawing away with ease. The 4-year-old daughter of Justify was purchased for $800,000 out of the Wavertree consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5. 

    Lea Farms’s Power Squeeze (Union Rags – Callmethesqueeze) saved ground in the early going of the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, stayed inside to take charge a furlong out and pulled away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. It’s the second straight stakes victory for the 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags, now 5-3-1-0 for trainer Jorge Delgado with $188,650 in earnings. After breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she was purchased for $90,000 out of the Halcyon Hammock consignment. 

   ed Zan wance at Santa Anita on Sunday. Breaking on top, the 3-year-old colt by Frosted set the pace, was headed after turning for home thRacing Stables’ Maymun (Frosted – Handwoven), a dazzling debut winner in January, tried two turns in his second start in an allowance then came again late to score by a neck. Consigned by Longoria Training & Sales, Agent, to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he sped an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5 and was sold for $900,000 to Donato Lanni, Agent. Two for two for trainer Bob Baffert, he has earned $79,200.
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
3yo filly has earned $99,000 . . .
    Michael Lund Petersen’s Kinza (Carpe Diem – Secret Wonder) is two for two and a graded stakes-winner, going straight to the front and never looking back en route to a two-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000, Gr. III Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old filly by millionaire OBS graduate Carpe Diem was purchased for $30,000 out of the Summerfield consignment at the 2022 OBS October Sale and has earned $99,000 to date. 

    Victoriam Farm’s Stone Silent (Adios Charlie – Travelator) led a 1-2-3 OBS sweep of Gulfstream’s $115,000 Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes on Sunday, taking over turning for home, opening daylight in the stretch and finishing best by 2/14 lengths over Choose Joy (Munnings – Elegantly), with Fulminate (Get Stormy – E Built This City) settling for third. It’s the third stakes victory for the 4-year-old Florida-bred filly by Adios Charlie, trained by Brian Lynch, now 1-4-2-1 with $290,838 in earnings. Consigned by Ocala Stud, Agent, to the 2022 OBS March Sale, she was sold for $410,000 after working an Under Tack quarter in :20 2/5. 
 

    Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Bin Aziz’ Just For Sul (Justify – Susie’s Baby) romped to a 3 1/2 length victory in the Gr. III Japan’s Cup on Friday at Riyadh, taking command on the turn and drawing away with ease. The 4-year-old daughter of Justify was purchased for $800,000 out of the Wavertree consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5. 

    Lea Farms’s Power Squeeze (Union Rags – Callmethesqueeze) saved ground in the early going of the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, stayed inside to take charge a furlong out and pulled away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. It’s the second straight stakes victory for the 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags, now 5-3-1-0 for trainer Jorge Delgado with $188,650 in earnings. After breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she was purchased for $90,000 out of the Halcyon Hammock consignment. 

   ed Zan wance at Santa Anita on Sunday. Breaking on top, the 3-year-old colt by Frosted set the pace, was headed after turning for home thRacing Stables’ Maymun (Frosted – Handwoven), a dazzling debut winner in January, tried two turns in his second start in an allowance then came again late to score by a neck. Consigned by Longoria Training & Sales, Agent, to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he sped an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5 and was sold for $900,000 to Donato Lanni, Agent. Two for two for trainer Bob Baffert, he has earned $79,200.
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
3yo filly has earned $99,000 . . .
    Michael Lund Petersen’s Kinza (Carpe Diem – Secret Wonder) is two for two and a graded stakes-winner, going straight to the front and never looking back en route to a two-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000, Gr. III Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old filly by millionaire OBS graduate Carpe Diem was purchased for $30,000 out of the Summerfield consignment at the 2022 OBS October Sale and has earned $99,000 to date. 

    Victoriam Farm’s Stone Silent (Adios Charlie – Travelator) led a 1-2-3 OBS sweep of Gulfstream’s $115,000 Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes on Sunday, taking over turning for home, opening daylight in the stretch and finishing best by 2/14 lengths over Choose Joy (Munnings – Elegantly), with Fulminate (Get Stormy – E Built This City) settling for third. It’s the third stakes victory for the 4-year-old Florida-bred filly by Adios Charlie, trained by Brian Lynch, now 1-4-2-1 with $290,838 in earnings. Consigned by Ocala Stud, Agent, to the 2022 OBS March Sale, she was sold for $410,000 after working an Under Tack quarter in :20 2/5. 
 

    Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Bin Aziz’ Just For Sul (Justify – Susie’s Baby) romped to a 3 1/2 length victory in the Gr. III Japan’s Cup on Friday at Riyadh, taking command on the turn and drawing away with ease. The 4-year-old daughter of Justify was purchased for $800,000 out of the Wavertree consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5. 

    Lea Farms’s Power Squeeze (Union Rags – Callmethesqueeze) saved ground in the early going of the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, stayed inside to take charge a furlong out and pulled away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. It’s the second straight stakes victory for the 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags, now 5-3-1-0 for trainer Jorge Delgado with $188,650 in earnings. After breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she was purchased for $90,000 out of the Halcyon Hammock consignment. 

    Zedan Racing Stables Maymun (Frosted-Handwoven), a dazzling debut winner in January, tried two turns in his second start in an allowance at Santa Anita on Sunday. Breaking on top, the 3-year-old colt set the pace, was headed after turning for home, then came again late to score by a neck. Consigned by Longoria Training & Sales, Agent, to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he sped an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5 and was sold for $900,000 to Donato Lanni, Agent. Two for two for trainer Bob Baffert, he has earned $79,200.
Sunday, February 11, 2024
No More Time pays $8.60; 10-1 in morning line . . .

    OLDSMAR - For much of the Gr. III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, winning jockey Paco Lopez felt like he was living a dream.

    Lopez’s instructions from trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo were to try to break well from the No. 5 post and sit in a stalking position early in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race. But as 3-year-old thoroughbreds often do, No More Time took matters into his own hooves and surged to the lead from the outset, with Lopez happy to go along for the ride.

    Despite running a 4-furlong split of :46.61 seconds and a 6-furlong time of 1:10.81 that were faster than both men wanted, the Iowa-bred son of Not This Time-Baroness Juliette, by Speightstown, had the vigor to turn back a serious challenge from longshot West Saratoga at the top of the stretch, then hold off Agate Road for 1 1/4-length victory.

    West Saratoga held on for third, with Elysian Meadows fourth in the 12-horse field. Both Everdoit, who swerved into the gate at the start, and jockey Huber Villa-Gomez, who was unseated, were pronounced fine after the race.

    No More Time, who won for the second time in four starts, completed the distance in 1:43.26, .82 seconds off Flameaway’s 2018 stakes record. The winner picked up 20 points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” toward earning a spot in the May 4 Run for the Roses starting gate at Churchill Downs.

    No More Time paid $8.60 to win as the betting favorite despite being 10-1 on the morning line.

    To Lopez and D’Angelo, the race couldn’t have unfolded any better.

    (D'Angelo) told me to put on the brakes out of the gate and sit third or fourth, but my horse broke unbelievable and I let him go,” Lopez said. “The pace was a little faster than I wanted, but his first and second quarters were very natural. I had plenty of horse the whole way and when I asked him, he gave me everything.”   

    An apparent dearth of early speed in the race led D’Angelo to try to have No More Time lay second, third or fourth early, but he was not overly concerned when the horse went to the lead on his own. D’Angelo said a 5-furlong breeze in 1:00 on Feb. 3 at Palm Meadows Training Center set him up perfectly for such an effort.

    “That was a monster move,” D’Angelo said. “He took the lead with no problem today. I said before the race we wanted a good start and we’ll see what happens, but (No More Time) did it on his own.”

    The conditioner is hopeful of returning to Oldsmar for the Gr. III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. “We will make the right decision for the horse, not for us,” D’Angelo said. “But if everything is in good order we’ll probably come back because he likes it here.”

   Randy Hartley and Dean DeRenzo purchased No More Time for $40,000 as a yearling and are partners in the colt with Morplay Racing, the father-son team of Orlando resident Rich Mendez and his son Josh. “We decided to keep him instead of selling him, and it’s an amazing feeling to win this race,” Rich Mendez said.

    “I spoke to Paco after the race and he said the horse was just playing with them. After his last race (fifth in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream), when he fell about 10 lengths back and still came back and tried to compete, we really felt good about him. He has so much heart.”

    Lopez also won the 11th and final race on the turf on Embrace Me, a 4-year-old filly owned by Mark T. Anderson and trained by Tom Albertrani, to sweep the late daily double.

Friday, February 9, 2024
Change of Command listed at 3-1 . . .
    OLDSMAR - Change of Command, a winner of his two most recent starts at Gulfstream Park, has been installed as a 3-1 morning-line favorite for the 44th running of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

    The mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis is the 10th race on an 11-race Festival Day 44 card, with post time for the first race at 12:27 p.m. Three other stakes are scheduled: the $150,000, mile-and-40-yard Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies; the $100,000, 6-furlong Pelican Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward; and the $50,000, 6-furlong Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward.

    All four stakes races will be run on the main dirt track. The Sam F. Davis is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, with the first five finishers earning 20, 10, 6, 4 and 2 points toward qualifying for a berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve starting gate on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

    It’s the same deal for the Suncoast, which will award the first five finishers the same number of points toward qualifying for the Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 3.

    Several high-profile jockeys from Gulfstream Park will head north for the Festival Preview Day gathering, with Tyler Gaffalione, Jose Ortiz and Junior Alvarado named to ride in all four stakes. Gaffalione has the mount on Change of Command, replacing Ortiz, who will ride 7-2 second choice Agate Road for trainer Todd Pletcher.

    Change of Command, who is owned by the Courtlandt Farms operation of Donald Adam and trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III, will break from the No. 9 post in a 12-horse field.

    “I think he’s done really well since his last race” (an allowance/optional claiming victory at the Sam F. Davis distance on Jan. 5 at Gulfstream Park), McGaughey said this morning. “He is a talented horse who still has a lot to learn, and we’re giving him that chance.

    “I think all of his races have been good. His workouts have been good, and if everything goes right they (the competition and his connections) are going to know he’s in there. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Tyler. My instructions to him will be to play the break, see what happens and give him a place to run when the time comes.”

    The trainer plans to add blinkers to Change of Command’s equipment Saturday. “All of his races, he’s been hanging a little, and hopefully blinkers will keep him from doing that and he’ll continue his run,” McGaughey said.

    It’s not unusual for the Sam F. Davis to appear as a wide-open race, given that most of the horses are just getting their 3-year-old seasons rolling. In fact, only one of the 12 has actually celebrated his actual 3rd birthday: Agate Road, the St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable-owned colt who was born on Jan. 25, 2021.

    Agate Road, who will break from the No. 6 post, won the Grade II Pilgrim Stakes on the turf last October at the Belmont At The Big A meet, and four of his five starts have been on turf. He ran second in his career debut last August at Saratoga in a race that was switched from the turf to the dirt.

    In addition to Agate Road, Pletcher will start Tireless, who broke his maiden here on Jan. 14 going a mile-and-40-yards. Antonio Gallardo is the jockey.

    “Both (Agate Road and Tireless) have shown improvement in their dirt breezes,” Pletcher said in a text message.

    The third morning-line choice at 5-1 is trainer Gary Capuano’s colt Copper Tax, who will break from the No. 7 post under jockey Charlie Marquez. Copper Tax concluded his 2-year-old campaign on a five-race winning streak, including the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park and the James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel Park, before finishing sixth in the Grade II Remsen Stakes on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.

    Oldsmar-based trainers such as Michael Campbell, who will saddle 6-1 shot Patriot Spirit for leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Samy Camacho, and Gregg Sacco, the conditioner of 10-1 Crazy Mason, believe they can be right in the mix. Crazy Mason, who will break from the No. 4 post under Mychel Sanchez, won a mile-and-40-yard allowance on Jan. 14, 6 weeks after finishing second to Patriot Spirit in the Inaugural Stakes.

    “We’re going into the Davis with a lot of confidence,” Sacco said. “He (Crazy Mason) overcame a slow pace last time and finished full of run, and he galloped out super. He’s had two workouts since then and is thriving” (Sacco said no time was recorded last Saturday when Crazy Mason worked in a thick fog).

    “We’re expecting a big effort from our colt,” Sacco added. ‘We’re glad to be a part of it and hope for the best for everybody.”

    The “forgotten” horse in the Sam F. Davis may be Grade III winner West Saratoga, who finished second in his lone Tampa Bay Downs start in the Jan. 13 Pasco Stakes, albeit 12 ½ lengths behind Book’em Danno.

    West Saratoga, who is owned by Harry L. Veruchi and trained by Larry Demeritte, will be ridden by Jesus Castanon.

    “This is one of the stronger bunches he’s run against, and this race could determine how good he is,” Demeritte said. “I think he is peaking at the right time, and he has the versatility to race on the lead or come from mid-pack, like he did in the (Grade III Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs).

    "What impressed me in the Pasco is that he got checked on the turn and started running again. A lot of horses will pack it in in that situation, and he has continued to train well since then. I wouldn’t trade my horse for anyone’s,” Demeritte said.

    In the Suncoast, which is the fifth race, Pletcher’s filly Life Talk has been made the 3-5 favorite against five opponents. Owned by Repole Stable, she will be ridden by Jose Ortiz. Life Talk won the Grade II, mile-and-an-eighth Demoiselle Stakes on Irad Ortiz, Jr., Jose’s brother, to earn her favorite’s role.

    “She’s progressing very well,” Pletcher noted. “We’re excited to get her back going.”

    The second choice in the Suncoast at 5-2 is Gulfstream Park stakes winner Power Squeeze, who is trained by Jorge Delgado and will be ridden by Daniel Centeno. McGaughey will send out Courtlandt Farms’s Whocouldaskformo, who broke her maiden here on Dec. 31 going a mile-and-40-yards. Gaffalione will be aboard.

    In the Pelican Stakes, slated as the eighth race, 6-year-old gelding Sibelius will bid to become the sixth horse to capture back-to-back runnings of the race (Above the Wind actually won three consecutive Pelicans, from 2003-2006). Owned by Jun H. Park and Delia Nash and trained by Jeremiah O’Dwyer, Sibelius will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.

    Sibelius, who used last year’s crackerjack Pelican score as a prep for a victory six weeks later in the lucrative Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Nakheel at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates, appears to be rounding into similar form, if his 4-length victory in the Grade III Mr. Prospector Stakes on Dec. 23 at Gulfstream Park is an indication.

    Sibelius is the 3-1 morning-line second choice, behind trainer Wesley Ward’s 5-year-old gelding Nakatomi at 9-5. Nakatomi, who will be piloted by Gaffalione, finished third in the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita, behind subsequent Eclipse Award Champion Male Sprinter Elite Power and multiple-Grade I winner Gunite.

    An eight-horse field in the Minaret Stakes, scheduled as the seventh race, is headed by 5-year-old mare Chi Town Lady, trained by Wesley Ward. Established as the 5-2 morning-line choice, she will break from the No. 2 post under Gaffalione. Chi Town Lady competed only twice in 2023, finishing third both times, but will be difficult to defeat if she can approach her form while winning the Grade I Longines Test Stakes in the summer of 2022 at Saratoga.

    Arroyo is Boot Barn Jockey of the Month. In recent weeks, Angel Arroyo has displayed a knack for winning close finishes, with seven of his 11 most recent victories by less than a length. His agent, former jockey Jose Angel Garcia, says that streak can be attributed in large part to Arroyo’s excellent skills as a gate rider.

    “He’s unbelievable at positioning horses out of the gate,” Garcia said. “Horses break sharp for him, and they are always right there in contention.”

    Arroyo won today’s second race on 5-year-old mare Downton Tabby, enabling him to climb into a tie for ninth place in the Oldsmar standings with Kevin Gomez with 15 winners each. The victory on the 13-1 shot clinched the Boot Barn Jockey of the Month Award for the 34-year-old Panama City, Panama product.

    Arroyo doesn’t have an explanation for his recent string of close victories, other than crediting the sort of consistency every jockey strives for. “I ride hard on every horse and try to do the best I can. That’s my job,” he said. “There is a lot of competition here this year, and I like that. Horse racing is a sport of highs and lows, but I try to stay upbeat.”

    Arroyo cracked the top 10 in last year’s Oldsmar standings with 28 winners and followed that up by riding 57 winners at Delaware Park, finishing in third place. He has 1,385 career victories, including 446 from 2010-2012.

    The graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Technical Jockey Training Academy won the 2012 Parx Racing jockeys’ title with 160 winners.

    “He’s one of the greatest I’ve ever had as an agent. This guy can ride horses,” Garcia said.

    Arroyo and leading jockey Samy Camacho both walked off the track under their own power after a freak incident at the start of the eighth race. Funny Man, Arroyo’s mount, stumbled breaking from the No. 4 post in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race, dumping Arroyo. Funny Man then veered into the path of No. 3 Frosty the Soldier, who unseated Camacho.

    When Arroyo released his reins after falling, they became tangled around the rear leg of Frosty the Soldier, and the two horses raced in tandem that way for several strides before they managed to disengage themselves and continue on their journey. Both horses were corralled by Tampa Bay Downs outriders, and the two jockeys and two horses, it appears, escaped with nothing worse than a weird shared anecdote.

    Morales returns with third-place finish. For a few fleeting seconds, veteran jockey Pablo Morales thought he might be headed to the winner’s circle aboard Lucky in Love in today’s fifth race, his first start since Nov. 25.

    Morales and his 4-year-old filly, owned and trained by Ron G. Potts, had to settle for a third-place finish in the maiden claiming turf event, won by Algarca. But getting back into action for the first time after breaking his left wrist in a training accident signaled that the 35-year-old rider is prepared to hit the ground running in his return.

    “I’ve been OK for a couple of weeks already, but I wanted to make sure I had everything tight and flexible before I went out there. Everything is perfect,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking much about anything except trying to do my best, make the right decisions and following the right horse, the No. 9” (eventual runner-up Far Above).

    Morales, who has ridden 2,626 winners in his career, made the process sound about as easy as riding a bicycle after a long time off. “It was definitely cool, but it didn’t seem that strange to me. You just go back to it like (the injury) never happened,” he said. “You get prepared, you focus and you can go for it, and that’s what I did.

    “My horse tried hard and did everything she could. She will win,” he added.

    Around the oval ---Apprentice jockey Gabriel Maldonado rode three winners today. He captured the first race with Just Plain Ornery, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Barbara Anderson and Juan Arriagada and trained by Arriagada. Just Plain Ornery was claimed from the race for $8,000 by trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo for new owner Moshe Mark.

    Maldonado added the fourth race on Ritz On Broadway, a 3-year-old filly owned by Joseph Irace and Alfred Noll and trained by Wayne Potts.

    Maldonado also won the sixth race on Victory Line, a 4-year-old gelding owned by David A. Bernsen LLC and trained by William E. Morey.

    Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode two winners. He won the third race on Good Value, a 4-year-old filly owned by Julian De Mora, Jr., and trained by Juan Carlos Avila. Camacho added the seventh on the turf with Full Nelson, a 3-year-old colt owned by Gold Square, LLC, Joseph R. Hardoon and Jose Francisco D’Angelo and trained by D’Angelo.

    There will be a forced payout Sunday in the 20-cent Ultimate 6 wager, in which the jackpot normally is distributed any time a single bettor has all six winners. That stipulation will be waived Sunday, rewarding anyone picking all six winners with their share of the total pool.

    If nobody hits all six, the jackpot will still go to anyone picking 5-of-6 (or 4-of-6, if that’s the best result).

    The jackpot climbed to $103,047 today. Track officials estimate that the jackpot could rise to the vicinity of $500,000 if no bettor claims it Friday or Saturday, but there will be a forced payout Sunday regardless.



Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Insurance plan is cost effective . . .
    Hallandale Beach - The Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, located at Gulfstream Park, announces that applications are being accepted for their workers’ compensation program. Implemented in November 2023, the plan has been enthusiastically received and already provides coverage for more than 50 trainers.

    This unique horse racing industry insurance program provides affordable workers’ compensation insurance coverage to trainers for their backstretch employees, including assistant trainers, exercise riders, grooms, and hot walkers. Trainers pay a start fee that is determined after loss runs are provided. Those who race at Gulfstream Park year-round receive a $50 subsidy from the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, making the insurance plan extremely cost effective.  

    “This new policy provides substantial savings in expenses for resident trainers at Gulfstream Park,” said trainer Ron Spatz. “The security of knowing all of my employees are covered at a sizable cost savings – without the risk of being dropped or facing a rate increase if a claim is filed – was a huge factor when I decided to sign up for the program.”


    The Horsemen’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Trust provides all state coverage with the exception of New York, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.

    “I am grateful for the years of dedication and hard work the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has done to make this possible for us,” said trainer Jose Garoffalo. “In the past, finding coverage for backstretch employees was not only difficult, it was very costly. And, if there was a previous claim in the past few years, the insurance would either be too expensive or nearly impossible to find. This program is a blessing for trainers at Gulfstream Park.”


    The Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s motto is “horsemen helping horsemen.” FTHA diligently represents the interests of Thoroughbred horse owners and trainers who do business in Florida – always working to foster and promote relationships with tracks, community, and government.  This workers’ compensation program ensures that Florida’s hardworking trainers can protect their employees while getting the benefit of a dramatic reduction in premiums.

    “In the past, Gulfstream Park trainers faced difficulties when it came to obtaining reasonably priced workers’ compensation policies for their backstretch employees,” said FTHA Executive Director Herb Oster. “Finding a solution that made sense has been on the forefront of our efforts for several years and we are pleased to be able to provide this program that ultimately saves our trainers thousands of dollars a year.”

    To apply for The Horsemen’s Workers’ Compensation Trust, contact Jana Schwartz in the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen Association office at Gulfstream Park, call 759-256-7142, or email: [email protected].

 


Monday, February 5, 2024
Four win Saturday at Gulfstream . . .

    Baoma Corp.’s Nysos (Nyquist – Netta Z) romped to the head of the 3-year-old class in Saturday’s $201,000, Gr. III Robert E. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday with a sharp 7-1/2 length victory. The 3-year-old son of Nyquist rated nicely off the lead, swept to the front on the turn and cruised to an easy win.  Fellow OBS graduate Wine Me Up (Vino Rosso – Deanaallen’skitten) settled for second. Trained by Bob Baffert, he’s now three for three by a combined 26 3/4 lengths and has earned $216,600. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he sped an Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5 and was purchased for $550,000 out of the Best A Luck Farm consignment by Donato Lanni, Agent for Baoma Corp.  

Four OBS grads scored in stakes races at Gulfstream on Saturday.

    D. J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades (Awesome Slew – The Shady Lady) is three for three and a graded stakes -winner, jumping into the Triple Crown picture with a victory in the $250,000, Gr.III Holy Bull Stakes . The 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Awesome Slew took the early lead, turned back a bid by champion Fierceness turning for home and drew off to win by two lengths. Trained by Joe Orseno, he has earned $225,000 to date. Consigned by Ocala Stud to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he was sold for $130,000 after breezing an Under Tack quarter in:21 1/5. 

    Repole Stable’s Life’s an Audible (Audible – Catkins) scored her first stakes win in the $175,000, Gr. III Sweetest Chant Stakes. The 3-year-old daughter of Audible was well behind, rallied wide on the turn and was up in the final yards to score by a neck. Consigned by Britton Peak, Agent, to the 2023 OBS Sale., she was sold for $200,000 after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5. Now 6-2-2-0 for trainer Todd Pletcher, she has earned $243,045. 

     Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing’s R Harper Rose (Khozan – True Bliss) pressed the pace in the early going of the $145,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3), took over at the head of the stretch and cruised to a two-length victory. Fellow OBS graduate Chi Chi (Audible – Simply Confection) checked in third. It’s the first graded stakes win for the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly by Khozan, trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., now 5-4-1-0 with $344,025 in earnings. At the 2023 OBS March Sale, she breezed an Under Tack eighth in :9 4/5 before being purchased out of the GOP Racing Stable consignment for $60,000. 

    Frank DeLuca’s Frankie’s Empire (Classic Empire – Donna D) rated off the pace early in the $125,000 Swale Stakes, rallied wide go reach contention, took over a furlong from home and was best by 3 1/2 lengths. It’s the first stakes victory for the 3-year-old son of Classic Empire, now 7-4-0-1 with $185,700 earnings for trainer Michael Yates. Consigned by McKathan Bros. Sales to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he was sold for $20,000 after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5. 

     Lea Farms, LLC’s Super Chow (Lord Nelson – Bonita Mia) went right to the front in Aqueduct’s $175,000, Gr. III Toboggan Stakes and was long gone, romping to a 4 1/4 length victory. It’s the first graded stakes win for the 4-year-old Lord Nelson colt, purchased for $75,000 out of the Eisaman Equine consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an eighth in :10 flat at the Under Tack Show. Trained by Jorge Delgado, he has compiled a 16-7-4-4 record and earned $590,650.  

    Gary Barber’s Bron and Brow (Gormley – Changing Vista) took his second straight stakes race, capturing Delta Downs’ $100,000 Louisiana Bred Premier Sprint Stakes on Sunday by a length and three quarters. It’s the fifth stakes victory for the 5-year-old son of Gormley, purchased for $200,000 out of the Grassroots Training & Sales consignment at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale after working an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Now 17-7-4-3 for trainer Mark Casse, he has earned $444,370.

Sunday, February 4, 2024
Defeats champion Fierceness at odds of 9-1 . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Repole Stable’s Fierceness was an imposing favorite to win Saturday’s $250,000, Gr. III Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, but D J Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades was hardly intimidated by the 2023 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile.

    Undefeated in two prior starts, Hades took it to the champion and his six other rivals right from the start of the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds, breaking alertly to go to the front and never looking back to register a 9-1 upset victory. The 35th running of the Holy Bull, a prep for the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby, headlined Saturday’s 12-race program with five stakes for 3-year-olds, including four graded stakes.

     Joe Orseno-trained Hades withstood pressure from Inveigled early and Fierceness late but still had enough in reserve in the stretch to kick away from the 1-5 favorite, who faded to third. Late-running Domestic Product finished second, two lengths behind the winner and 1 ½ lengths ahead of Fierceness.

    “The plan was to go to the lead, but if somebody was pushing him, he was going to rate him. It looked like he started to do that when that one horse went up to him, and then Paco had to go. He knew it,” Orseno said. “When the horse accelerates, he’s just got another gear at the top of the stretch. He showed it to us last time. Of course, a champion eyeballs him and he dug in and took off. He ran away from a very good horse. It was our day today. We’ll see next time, but right now we’ll enjoy the moment.”

    Fierceness broke with the field from his No. 7 post and was outsprinted to the lead by Hades and Inveigled while racing in traffic. Hades cut the corner from his rail post position to show the way heading into the backstretch, as Fierceness worked his way clear of traffic to sit third on the outside of Inveigled past fractions of 25:03 and 50.53 for a half mile. John Velazquez sent Fierceness after the pacesetter and the two entered the stretch head-and head, but the Todd Pletcher-trained champion shortened stride as Hades kicked away under Paco Lopez.

    “He didn’t get off to a very good start. The inside horse bumped him pretty good and then he got sandwiched and kind of had to shove him into the race and try to get the position we wanted, which we eventually did. But, he had to overcome a pretty rough start to get there,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like he got into a good rhythm and straightened away for home and just kind of flattened out a little bit. I’m disappointed in the outcome. I think if you watch the replay of the start, it was a pretty rough start, kind of similar to what happened in the Champagne. If he doesn’t get away well, he doesn’t get into the flow of the race the same way.”

    Fierceness was coming off a dominating 6 ¼-length victory in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The son of City of Light had scored an 11 ¼-length debut score over a pair of next-out winners on a muddy Saratoga track Aug. 25 before finishing off the board following a troubled start in the Oct. 7 Champagne on a sloppy Aqueduct surface.

    “The way he broke out of there, he kind of broke a step slow and got bounced out of there. I had to put him into the race and then sat against him on the backstretch,” Velazquez said of Fierceness’s trip Saturday. “Somebody moved on the outside and I let him do his thing. [I saw] Paco’s already riding so I kind of sat against him thinking, ‘Let me just wait.’ When I asked him, he wasn’t there for me.”

    Hades who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.07 while dealing with constant pressure. “He likes to fight. He beat the Breeders’ Cup winner. Maybe the Breeders’ Cup winner wasn’t 100 percent ready, but I know my horse and ran very good today,” said Lopez, who had ridden the son of Awesome Slew in his first two victories.

    The Orseno trainee overcame bumping at the start of his Dec. 9 debut at Gulfstream, closing from well back to get up in time to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream. The 3-year-old gelding, who was purchased for $130,000 at the 2022 OBS April sale, had a much easier time of things in his return in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance for Florida-breds, shaking off early pressure while setting the back and drawing away to an eight-length romp.

    “I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of him yet. If you know me, I didn’t have him peaked today. I know what it takes if you’re going to campaign a horse,” said Orseno, who saddled Red Bullet for a victory in the 2000 Preakness. “It was like, we’ll have him ready for today, and this was our plan today, but this was today’s plan. It’s not the ideal plan if you’re trying to win the Derby or even get there, but for today it worked.”

Orseno wasn’t ready to commit Hades to the March 2, Gr. II Fountain of Youth, the final prep for the Florida Derby, in the aftermath of his gelding’s victory. “I’m going to let the horse tell us. Right now, I would say no, but if the horse is sharp …,” Orseno said. “He’s lightly raced. He’s run five and a half and seven furlongs. It’s not like he’s been pushed.”

    Hades’ upset was especially satisfying for Orseno because Leonard Green’s D J Stable and Robert Cotran have been longtime clients, who paid $130,000 for the Holy Bull winner at the 2022 OBS April sale.

    “The owners have been with me for a long time and their partner, Robert Cotran, he’s been with me just as long. It’s great. We put the two of them together. They didn’t know each other when it happened but they know each other now.”
Friday, February 2, 2024
Nominees total 40 . . .
    OLDSMAR - Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has enjoyed a stranglehold on the Gr. III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes since 2006, winning the Kentucky Derby prep race seven times in the last 18 years. Judging from the nominations for this season’s Sam F. Davis, Pletcher is eager to extend that dominance.

    Seven of the 40 nominees for the 44th edition of the race, the headliner on Tampa Bay Downs’s Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day 44 card, are Pletcher trainees, including Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Male Fierceness, breeder-owner Repole Stable’s winner of the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance on Nov. 3 at S
anta Anita.

    While Fierceness is entered in Saturday’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park and unlikely to be entered in the Sam F. Davis barring a late reversal of plans, it’s logical to assume Pletcher will find one or two others in an attempt to enlarge his collection of Sam F. Davis winners: Bluegrass Cat (2006), Any Given Saturday (2007), Rule (2010), Brethren (2011), Vinceremos (2014), Destin (2016) and Litigate (2023).

    More on Pletcher’s Sam F. Davis nominees can be found below.

    The Sam F. Davis is a mile-and-a-sixteenth “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race awarding 20 points to the winner and 10, 6, 4 and 2 points to the next four finishers toward qualifying for a starting berth in the 150th running of the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

    Named after the former president of Tampa Bay Downs, the Sam F, Davis is one of four stakes scheduled for the main track on the Festival Preview Day 44 card.

    The 44th running of the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards is a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race, with the top five receiving 20-10-6-4-2 points toward qualifying for the May 3 distaff classic.

    The Suncoast Stakes attracted 21 nominations, five trained by Pletcher. That quintet includes Grade II Demoiselle Stakes winner Life Talk, owned by Repole Stable, and the outfit’s Scalable, who finished second in the Grade II Chandelier Stakes. Life Talks and Scalable were fourth and fifth last fall in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

    Trainer Mark Casse has nominated owner Gary Barber’s Witwatersrand, who won the Grade III Mazarine Stakes on Nov. 4 at Woodbine. Another Suncoast nominee with proven stakes credentials is Red Oak Stable’s Gorgeous Girl, who finished second here on Jan. 13 in the Gasparilla Stakes. Gregg Sacco is the trainer.

    Feb. 10’s other stakes are the 40th running of the $100,000 Pelican Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint for horses 4-years-old-and-upward, and the 43rd edition of the $50,000 Minaret Stakes, a 6-furlong event for fillies and mares 4-and-upward. The Pelican closed with 17 nominations. Among the possibles are Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s 6-year-old gelding Baby Yoda, who was second in the 2022 Pelican, and Grade III winner Little Vic, a 5-year-old from the barn of trainer Juan Carlos Avila.

    The Minaret attracted 17 nominations, as well. Heading the list is trainer Wesley Ward’s 5-year-old mare Chi Town Lady, who won the Grade I Longines Test Stakes in 2022 at Saratoga and has amassed career earnings of $462,913.
The Minaret nominees also include Lady Radler, a 4-year-old filly owned by Mellon Patch, Inc., and trained by Michael Campbell. She is 5-for-11, including a victory last September in the Grade III Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs.

    Back to trainer Pletcher’s seemingly delicious dilemma approaching the Sam F. Davis. With Fierceness Holy Bull-bound, Pletcher may turn to Locked, a son of Gun Runner owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm, to extend his Sam F. Davis record. Locked was almost as good as any 2-year-old last fall, winning the Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland before running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.

    Pletcher could also choose to enter Noted, a stakes winner on both dirt and turf owned by Repole Stable, or one of several others as they round into form for their 3-year-old campaigns.

    Owner Mellon Patch, Inc., and trainer Michael Campbell have nominated Patriot Spirit, their son of Constitution who breezed 4 furlongs here on Jan. 25 in 48 4/5 seconds as he prepares for his first start as a 3-year-old. Patriot Spirit won the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 2.

    Book’em Danno, the speedy winner of the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 13, is among the Sam F. Davis nominees, but trainer Derek Ryan is expected to run him next in the $1.5-million Saudi Derby in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 24. Book’em Danno breezed 5 furlongs here Sunday in 1:02.

    Trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo has nominated four horses to the Sam F. Davis. One, Morplay Racing’s No More Time, is entered in the Holy Bull, while the others are still maidens.

    Other impressive-looking Sam F. Davis nominees include Grade II Remsen Stakes runner-up Sierra Leone, trained by Chad Brown; trainer Larry Demeritte’s Grade III stakes winner West Saratoga, a distant second to Book’em Danno in the Pasco; Grade II-placed Fulmineo, trained by Arnaud Delacour; Otello, the winner of the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, trained by Christophe Clement; and Inaugural runner-up Crazy Mason, owned by Donna Wright and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and trained by Gregg Sacco.

    Turf Champions Day is Saturday. The 38th edition of the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes and the 25th running of the Grade III, $175,000 Endeavour Stakes, both at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf course, are the co-feature events on Saturday’s 10-race “Turf Champions Day” card.

    Seven older fillies and mares are entered in the Endeavour, which is the sixth race on the program. Trainer Chad Brown, who has won the race a record four times, has entered both Klaravich Stables’s 5-year-old Consumer Spending and 4-year-old Implicated, owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Cambron Equine and Laura Leigh Stable.

    Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has been named to ride Consumer Spending, while leading Oldsmar jockey Samy Camacho will be on Implicated.

    Trainer H. Graham Motion, who has won the Endeavour twice, also has two entrants: 5-year-old Willakia, owned by Stonestreet Stables, and 5-year-old Sparkle Blue, owned by Augustin Stable and Catherine Parke. Vincent Cheminaud is named on Willakia and Jorge Ruiz will ride Sparkle Blue.

    The afternoon’s excitement will build to a crescendo for the Tampa Bay Stakes, which is the 10th race on the program. Hall of Fame conditioner Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III, will go for his fourth triumph in the race with Never Explain, a 6-year-old son of Street Sense owned by Courtlandt Farms. Cheminaud will ride Never Explain from the No. 1 post.

    Other top contenders appear to be Olympic Runner, trainer Mark Casse’s 8-year-old gelding who is a Grade II winner, and Winfromwithin, trainer William E. Morey’s 6-year-old who finished second in last year’s Tampa Bay Stakes and holds the 1-mile Oldsmar turf course record of 1:33.23, set as a 3-year-old in the 2021 Columbia Stakes. Camacho will ride Olympic Runner, with Jose Ferrer named on Winfromwithin. Assigned the outside No. 10 post is Chad Brown’s 5-year-old Running Bee, to be ridden by Castellano.
Monday, January 29, 2024
Bellamore takes Gr. III Houston Ladies Classic . . .
    Kaleem Shah’s Bellamore (Empire Maker – Smaft N Soft), rated off the pace in Saturday’s $300,000, Gr. III Houston Ladies Classic Stakes, rallied wide on the turn, then kept closing down the stretch and was up late to win by a neck. It’s the first stakes victory for the 6-year-old mare by Empire Maker, trained by Steve Asmussen, now 20-4-4-5 with $644,992 in earnings. After working an Under Tack quarter in :21 2/5 at the 2020 OBS Spring Sale, she was purchased for $350,000 out of the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment. 

OBS grads captured a pair of stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday.

    KEM Stables’ Hot Fudge (Liam’s Map – Nelle’s Mischief) chased the pace from the outside in the $150,000 Interborough Stakes, took the lead on the turn, then battled down to stretch and was best by half a length. It’s the fourth straight win and second straight stakes victory for the 5-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map, consigned to the 2021 OBS Spring Sale by Flying Fish, Agent, and sold for $235,000 after breezing an eighth in :9 4/5 at the Under Tack Show. Trained by Linda Rice, she’s now 12-7-1-1 and has earned $438,905.  

    Martin Schwartz, Gandharvi, Big Easy Racing, Rick Kanter, James J. Bakke, Titletown Racing Stables, Kueber Racing, Golconda Stable, Ali Goodrich and Mark Parkinson’s Bergen (Liam’s Map – Toni’s Hollyday) rallied to take command of the $97,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes after turning for home and drew away to score by 5 1/4 lengths. It was the stakes debut for the 3-year-old colt by Liam’s Map, trained by Brad Cox, now 3-2-1-0 with $136,975 in earnings. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he sped a quarter in 20 4/5 at the Under Tack Show and was purchased for $375,000 out of the Wavertree Stables consignment. 
 

    Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Mouheeb (Flatter – Shananie’s Song) punched his ticket on Friday to the upcoming Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) with an impressive 6-3/4 length victory in the Gr. III Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) at Meydan.  It’s the third stakes win for the 6-year-old son of Flatter, trained by Michael Costa. Consigned by Tom McCrocklin to the 2020 OBS Spring Sale, he was sold for $400,000 after turning in an Under Tack quarter in :20 4/5. McCrocklin has consigned a half-sister by Not This Time to the upcoming OBS March Sale. 
Monday, January 29, 2024
Lucky bettors earn nearly $2 million each . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - The mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool Sunday at Gulfstream Park yielded $1,804,431 payoffs to three bettors holding tickets with all six winners.

    Unsolved for 20 consecutive programs following a mandatory payout, the pool stood at $921,255 heading into Sunday’s wagering. A total of $5,615,409 was bet into the popular multi-race wager Sunday to increase the pool to $6,536,665.

    The winning combination was 5 (Tidal Force - $7), 11 (Break Out - $19.40), 9 (Bird Wildcat - $24.40), 10 (Spirit Animal - $22.60), 11 (Bring Theband Home - $20.20), 7 (Sweet Mimi - $52.50) in the six-race sequence that spanned Races 6-11.


    On mandatory payout days, the entire Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is paid out to the bettor or bettors with the most winners in the wager’s six-race sequence. The carryover jackpot is usually only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool usually goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winner, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 will start anew on Wednesday’s program.

                        Spirit Animal Holds on to win Sunday’s City of Light Handicap  

    TEC Racing’s Spirit Animal ($22.60) got the jump on Conglomerate heading into the stretch and held on to win by the slimmest of noses over the favored high-weight in the $75,000 City of Light Handicap.

    The Martin Drexler-trained 8-year-old gelding made the scale of weights for the 1 1/8-mile starter handicap work to his advantage. Spirit Animal carried 121 pounds, six fewer than Conglomerate, in the 1 1/8-mile starter handicap on Tapeta,

    Spirit Animal, who was claimed for $10,000 last February at Gulfstream, settled in fifth behind a solid pace set by long shot The Best Distance before advancing on the far turn under Edwin Gonzalez. The Drexler trainee was taken four-wide leaving the turn into the stretch, one path inside an approaching Conglomerate. Fly the W, carrying 125 pounds after winning six of his last eight starts, kicked to the lead in mid-stretch after stalking the pace but was unable to hold off Spirit Animal, who was just able to hold off Conglomerate at the wire.


    “He’s just all heart. This horse is all heart,” Drexler said. “I played around with ideas of running him shorter or putting him on turf, and this race kept sat there and just sat there, and I said, ‘You know what? Conglomerate is in there, Fly the W is in there. If he can beat these horses, he’ll be doing well.

    Spirit Animal, who had been first or second in his last five starts at Woodbine, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.03 to edge Conglomerate. Fly the W finished third.

Who’s Hot: Jockey Edwin Gonzalez rode both ends of a $419 Daily Double aboard Crystal Quest ($38.60) in Race 1 and Flower Mound ($17.40) in Race 2. He came back to capture the City of Light Handicap aboard Spirit Animal.


    Trainer Michael Trombetta had bookend winners, scoring with Crystal Quest ($38.60) in Race 1 and Sweet Mimi ($52.20) in Race 11.

 Oisin Murphy doubled aboard On the Nile ($17.80) in Race 5 and Break Out ($19.40) in Race 7. Trainer Martin Drexler also notched a win with Ninetyfour Express ($10) in Race 3. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who was aboard Ninetyfour Express, went on to capture Race 11 with Bring Theband Home ($20.20).
Sunday, January 28, 2024
Baffert's 3rd win in the $3 million race . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure asserted his class Saturday at Gulfstream Park, providing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his third success in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational presented by Baccarat.

    The Pegasus World Cup, a 1 1/8-mile event for 4-year-olds and up, headlined a 13-race program that also featured the $1 million 1/ST BET Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G2) and four other graded stakes.


    National Treasure did not have things his own way in the Pegasus, having been denied pacesetting honors by Hoist the Gold, but the son of Quality Road held up to the early pressure and held gamely to hold off a late-running Senor Buscador by a neck.

    “I’m proud of him. He ran his race. He showed up,” said Baffert by phone from Southern California. “That’s all you can ask for as a trainer. He was prepping well for it.” Baffert had previously won the Pegasus World Cup with Arrogate (2017) and Mucho Gusto (2020).

    National Treasure, who is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan, was sent to post as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 12 older horses. He entered the Pegasus off a second-place finish in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, in which he was nosed out by defending champion and 2023 Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish.

    “I’ve always thought he was that good a horse. He was just very immature and he’s getting better and better, the way he’s training,” Baffert said. “He trained much better than he was going into the Breeders’ Cup.”

    National Treasure broke cleanly from the starting gate but was outsprinted to the lead by Hoist the Gold, who had captured the Dec. 2 Cigar Mile (G2) at Aqueduct in front-running fashion. The Dallas Stewart-trained Hoist the Gold ran the first quarter of a mile in a solid 23.18 seconds on his way to a 46.32 half-mile clocking under Hall of Famer John Velazquez. However, Hoist the Gold was unable to shake the Baffert trainee, who applied pressure on his outside before moving away from the tiring pacesetter in the stretch, completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.51.


    “He’s very brave. Obviously, a great job by Bob,” jockey Flavien Prat said. “He’s always on point. It’s been a great pleasure riding [National Treasure}.”

    National Treasure was engaged by Senor Buscador nearing the wire but would not be denied his second Grade 1 win. The Baffert trainee set the pace in last year’s Preakness Stakes but showed the same resilience he demonstrated at Gulfstream Saturday while holding off a strong bid by Blazing Sevens by a head.


    Senor Buscador, who had been training at Gulfstream since finishing second in the Cigar Mile, finished second under Junior Alvarado, 4 ½ lengths ahead of Crupi and jockey Frankie Dettori. Hoist the Gold finished fourth, another 6 ¼ lengths back

    “It's very hard to come from way back on this track. But I was happy when he was picking it up and I'm excited. But I could feel the last sixteenth of a mile he was getting tired from making that huge run from the back,” Senor Buscador’s jockey Junior Alvarado said. “My horse ran his eyeballs out. He gave me a helluva run. He gave me everything he had today. My horse ran his heart out today.”


    First Mission, the 5-2 second choice in the betting, showed a little early speed before fading to ninth for trainer Brad Cox, who had saddled Knicks Go for a victory in the 2021 Pegasus World Cup.

    “Just didn't handle the track at all. A lot of dirt hitting him in the face. He didn't seem like he wanted to go forward through it,” Cox said. “Luis [Saez] said at the half-mile pole he didn't move forward when asked. Pretty simple watching the race on television, I kind of thought going up the backside he was struggling with the ground. Regroup and see what happens.”

    National Treasure had been off-the-board in three starts between his front-running victory in the Preakness and his game second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The Kentucky-bred colt had a productive 2-year-old campaign, during which he won at first asking at Del Mar before finishing second in the American Pharoah at Santa Anita and finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.
Friday, January 26, 2024
Bob Baffert goes for third win . . .
    HALLANDALE - Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure arrived at Gulfstream Park from Southern California Tuesday evening to prepare for a start in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) under the supervision of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes.

            National Treasure has been installed at 9-5 in the morning line in a field of 12 older horses in the headliner of a 13-race program that will also feature the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G2), and four other graded stakes.

            National Treasure, who captured the 2023 Preakness in front-running fashion, came up just a nose short achieving a front-running triumph last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, having to settle for second behind Cody’s Wish. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road will seek to give Baffert his third Pegasus World Cup win, following in the hoofprints of Arrogate (2017) and Mucho Gusto (2020).

            Baffert has been one of the most enthusiastic, as well as successful, supporters of the Pegasus World Cup, in which he has been represented by two winners and two second-place finishers.

            “Gulfstream, the Stronach Group, the 1/ST group, they put on a great show. It's developing,” he said. “You've got that, you’ve got the Triple Crown series, the Breeders’ Cup. It's good to have something like this to kick it off.

            “Gulfstream has done a good job the way it’s marketed. it's a good day and it's fun. I remember going down there. I got beat, I ran second, but Post Malone was there. It's always been a great party, a good atmosphere, making racing cool,” Baffert added. “It's a cool sport. I think that's what they're trying to get across, and it is. It's our time to shine down there in Florida.”

            Baffert also credited the Pegasus World Cup as a ‘stallion maker’ while keeping older horses like National Treasure in training longer.

            “I think he's getting better, and you’re supposed to wait until they’re four, but unfortunately a lot of the good horses had to retire because they are so valuable. When they’re four, you're going to have a big, stronger horse, a better horse,” Baffert said. “I think he's the only one left that ran in those [Triple Crown] series. But he's getting better. We've taken our time. We’ve spotted him right. I’ve let him really mature on his own. This is a perfect scenario for him, a perfect spot to come back.”

            National Treasure will break from the No. 7 post position under Flavien Prat.

               Castellano Weighs in on Success Ahead of Pegasus: ‘I’m Very Lucky’

            Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano enjoyed a career resurgence in 2023, winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont (G1) for the first time to complete a personal Triple Crown, and enhancing his Saratoga record with a seventh victory in the Travers (G1).

            The 47-year-old Venezuela native captured the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs with Mage, the third leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont and the Midsummer Derby at Saratoga aboard Arcangelo.

            Though his number of overall wins (146) was less than half of his career high (362) set in 2013 – the first of four straight years that ended with an Eclipse Award – Castellano banked $19.5 million in purses, his best year since topping $25 million in 2019.

           “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed in this business. A lot of trainers, a lot of owners give me the opportunity to ride the best horses on the grounds,” Castellano said. “We’re looking forward to 2024 and hopefully we keep the momentum from races like the Kentucky Derby, the Travers, the Belmont Stakes, all those big races … and the horses keep developing for the 2024 big races.”

            Castellano will be a prominent player Saturday at Gulfstream Park with mounts on Il Miracolo in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat, Main Event in the $1 million 1/ST Bet Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and Full Count Felicia in the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G2)..

            This will be the fifth time for Castellano riding in the Pegasus World Cup, having won with City of Light in 2019 and finishing second with West Coast (2018), fourth with Keen Ice (2017) and 11th with O’Connor (2023).

            Il Miracolo, based at Gulfstream with trainer Antonio Sano, comes into the Pegasus having won the Smarty Jones (G3), run second by a head in the Fayette (G2) and third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and Clark (G2) to cap his 2023 campaign.

            “The Pegasus is a race we all look forward to. I was able to win a couple of years ago with City of Light. He was very impressive that day, and now this year, I have the opportunity to ride one of the best horses, and hopefully everything falls in the right direction,” Castellano said. “You’ve got to be there to win the Pegasus. It’s an exciting race. We’re all looking forward to 2024 and hopefully starting off on the right foot.”

            Castellano has ridden in the Turf four times, his best finish a second aboard Ivar last January. This year he will be on Main Event, a front-running winner of Gulfstream’s Pegasus Turf prep, the Dec. 30 Fort Lauderdale (G2), by a head over late-running Kingmax, who also returns in the Turf.

            “When he saw [Kingmax] coming on the outside he liked to engage a little bit and he finished strong. Going into the Pegasus Turf he’s going to be really comfortable,” Castellano said. “It’s going to be a step up a little bit. We all do the big races this time of the year you have to show up. I have a lot of confidence in my horse that he can do it.”

            The Filly & Mare Turf will be Castellano’s second time riding Full Count Felicia and first since they ran second in a six-furlong maiden special weight on the grass in April 2022 for previous trainer Chad Summers. Moved that summer to Maryland-based Brittany Russell, who has a string at Gulfstream this winter, Full Count Felicia has won five of seven starts including the 1 1/8-mile All Along in September at Pimlico and one-mile Suwannee River (G3) Dec. 30 at Gulfstream.

            “Pegasus World Cup is an amazing [day]. A lot of people show up, friends and family. A lot of people come to the races and enjoy the beautiful sunshine,” Castellano said. “This is one of the best times of the year to be here in South Florida and see some of the best horses on the grounds.”

            Castellano, 46, has won 5,747 races and is approaching $400 million in purse earnings during a U.S. career that began in South Florida in 1997. The two-time Preakness (G1) winner remains as humble and genuine as when he was starting out.

            “This game is very unpredictable. It seems to me that’s one of the things that’s really, really good about the sport. One day you can be on the bottom and one day you can be on the top,” Castellano said. “You have to be consistent. You have to be disciplined and detailed and show up every single day. You never know what door is going to open.

            “You have to deliver. You have to be consistent. You have to be positive every single day. You never know what kind of horse you’re going to ride and what kind of horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby,” he added. “If somebody told me, ‘You’re going to win your first Kentucky Derby [and] your first Belmont,’ I wouldn’t have believed it. But I’ve been disciplined, been doing the right things and trying to find the right horses and do my homework. It paid off. I was very lucky.”

 

R Calli Kim Takes Four-Race Win Streak into G3 La Prevoyante

            Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing’s R Calli Kim, unbeaten in four starts last year for trainer Brendan Walsh, chases a fifth consecutive victory and second straight graded stakes in Saturday’s $150,000 La Prevoyante (G3) presented by Ketel One Espresso Martini on the grass at Gulfstream Park.

            R Calli Kim, 7, is the younger half-sister of Temple City Terror, a four-time stakes winner including the 2022 Dowager (G3) and Long Island (G3) who was also trained by Walsh. R Calli Kim, by Revolutionary, continued the family tradition with a popular 2 ½-length triumph in the 1 3/8-mile Long Island in mid-November at Aqueduct.

            It was an unlikely end to a season that began last July when R Calli Kim, entered for a $32,000 tag, returned from more than a year between starts to win a 1 1/16-mile claiming event on the Saratoga turf. From there she won a second-level optional claiming allowance going 1 5/16 miles at Kentucky Downs and an open Keeneland allowance in October at 1 ½-miles, the same distance as the La Prevoyante.

            “She got injured and we gave her time off. We brought her back, and I thought she was doing really well, working very well and all, and we took a shot at Saratoga and jammed her in pretty good,” Walsh said. “I didn’t for a second think she was going to turn around and win a graded stake at the end of the year. But she’s progressed, like her sister, and gotten better and gotten a lot of confidence, and she’s been working great coming into Saturday. Hopefully she can follow on from last year.”

            Jose Ortiz has the mount on R Calli Kim from Post 3 in a field of nine older fillies and mares. She will carry 123 pounds, co-topweight with Grade 3 winner Romagna Mia, who won the 1 ½-mile Via Borghese Dec. 26 on the Gulfstream turf.

            “She came back [from her last race] super. I backed off her a little bit because there was nothing for her,” Walsh said. “We gave her a little down time for a few weeks, and we brought her down here and she’s been working along pretty well since. She should run very well on Saturday.”

            Walsh said Temple City Terror, who earned $931,218 in 31 starts from 2019-23, was more high-strung than her little sister, a winner of eight of 13 races and $517,890 who owns two wins, one second and one third in six previous tries at Gulfstream, the most recent being a troubled second by a neck in a one-mile April 2022 allowance.

            “She’s not as wired as Temple City Terror was. She’d get wound up, and this one is a little more laid back,” Walsh said. “But they’re sweethearts of fillies to have. She’s just a pleasure to train. She’s very straightforward.”

            Walsh also entered Gilmore in the $150,000 Fred Hooper (G3) presented by Whispering Angel for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the man track, and Verstappen in the $200,000 William L. McKnight (G3) presented by Florida Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association for 4-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on the grass.

            Gilmore, owned by a partnership headed by SF Racing, comes into the Hooper after running second to Group 1 winner and defending champion Sibelius in the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector (G3) Dec. 23 at Gulfstream. The 4-year-old colt has two wins from 11 starts and is seeking his first stakes victory, having run second or third in the Woody Stephens (G1), Pat Day Mile (G2), Bay Shore (G3) and El Camino Real Derby as a 3-year-old in 2023.

            “Last year I thought he made good progression and I always thought he was going to be a nice horse as time would go along. He ran some very nice races last year,” Walsh said. “I thought he ran a really good race in the Mr. Prospector because I kind of knew that it was going to be a little on the short side for him, which it proved to be, but the extra furlong [Saturday] should be right up his street.”

            Andrew Farm, For the People Racing Stable and Windmill Manor Farm’s Verstappen will be making his Gulfstream debut in the McKnight. Winner of the 1 ½-mile Elkhorn (G2) last spring at Keeneland, the 5-year-old gelding was also second n the Bowling Green (G2) and Kentucky Cup Classic and most recently third by less than a length in the Red Smith (G2) behind Master Piece, who is running in Saturday’s $1 million 1/ST Bet Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).

“He had a great year last year. We left him at Turfway [Park] last winter and said we’d bring him down here this year and see how he handled Florida,” Walsh said. “I think he’s set to run a big race, as well. I think he will [handle the course]. I was a little up in the air about it, but he’s been handling the track at Palm Meadows very well and I think that gives a fairly good indication of how they’re going to manage here.”
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Sales top $4.4 million for 2 days . . .

    Hip No. 409, a yearling daughter of Omaha Beach consigned by Fly By, went to Discovery Bay Bloodstock for $100,000 to top the entire sale and Open Session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2023 Winter Mixed Sale. The bay filly is out of Gardenista, by Curlin, a daughter of graded stakes-winner Valbenny (IRE).

    Hip No. 494, Sweet Mitole, a yearling bay filly by champion OBS graduate Mitole, was sold for $90,000 to Exclusive Equine Investments. Consigned by Summerfield (Francis & Barbara Vanlangendonck), Agent, she’s out of Pointe Du Hoc, by Soldat, a daughter of graded stakes-winner Storm Mesa.

    Hip No. 610, a yearling daughter of Uncle Chuck consigned by Fly By, was purchased by Grade One Investments  for $80,000. The bay filly is out of Champina, by Daredevil, from the family of graded stakes-winning OBS graduate Jack Milton.

    Supernova Stables went to $70,000 for Hip No. 445, a yearling daughter of Audible consigned by New Horizons Bloodstock. The chestnut filly is out of Lemoncita, by Lemon Drop Kid, a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Chewing Gum. 

    Hip No. 659, a yearling daughter of Girvin consigned by Hare Hill Farm, sold for $65,000 to Tahoe Bloodstock. The bay filly is out of stakes-placed Awesome Dama, by Corinthian, from the family of graded stakes-winner Ms. Mostly.

    Hip No. 640, a yearling daughter of Lexitonian consigned by 4 M Ranch, Agent, went to Albert Davis for $50,000. The chestnut filly is out of Electric Rose, by Flashback, a daughter of stakes-placed Bud’s Little Edge.

    Hip No. 599, a yearling son of Volatile consigned by Beth Bayer, Agent, was purchased for $45,000 by Lambholm, Agent. The chestnut colt is out of Blameitonthebadboy, by Blame, a daughter of graded stakes-placed stakes-winner Sky Haven

    Hip No. 545, Boston Soldier, consigned by Colin Brennan Bloodstock, Agent, was purchased for $42,000 by LMB Farms. The dark bay or brown yearling colt by Aurelius Maximus is out of stakes-placed Sweet Alice Benbow, by Wildcat Heir, from the family of stakes-winner Nothing Sweeter.

    FMQ Stables went to $42,000 for Hip No. 567, a yearling daughter of City of Light consigned by Beth Bayer, Agent. The bay filly is out of Yes It’s Jackie, by Yes It’s True, a half-sister to champion Abel Tasman. 

    Hip No. 621, Candle Ina Wind, a yearling son of Flameaway consigned by Summerfield, was sold to Grade One Investments for $40,000. The chestnut colt is out of Curious Luck, by Trust N Luck, a daughter of stakes-winner Silent Ridge.

    For the Open session, 166 horses sold for $2,025,900 compared with 186 horses bringing $2,065,700 in 2023. The average price was $12,204 compared with $11,106 last year, while the median price was $5,100 compared with $7,500 a year ago. The buyback percentage was 19.8%; it was 8.4% in 2023.

    For the Consignor Preferred session, 83 horses sold for $1,913,400, compared with 99 horses grossing $2,696,700 in 2023. The average price was $23,053, compared with $27,239 a year ago, while the median price was $16,000, compared to last year’s $20,000. The buyback percentage was 23.1%; it was 13.2% last year.

    For the Horses of Racing Age section, 31 horses grossed $545,000 compared with 95 selling for a total of $1,583,800 in 2023. The average was $17,581 compared with $16,672 a year ago, while the median price was $11,000 compared to $10,000 last year. The buyback percentage was 18.4%; it was 13.6% in 2023.

    For the entire Winter Mixed Sale, 280 horses sold for $4,484,300, compared to 380 horses bringing $6,346,200 last year. The average was $16,015, compared to $16,701 in 2023 while the median price was $8,000, compared with $9,500 a year ago. The buyback percentage was 20.7%; it was 11% in 2023.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Heavy favorite for outstanding owner and breeder . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - This is a week on the calendar in which Sheikh Mohammed’s international racing and bloodstock operation Godolphin has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years.

    Godolphin is the heavy favorite to be feted Thursday at the Breakers in Palm Beach with Eclipse Awards as North America’s outstanding owner and breeder for 2023. Godolphin has won an Eclipse Award three straight years as leading owner and five overall, and two straight as leading breeder with a third under the Darley banner.


    That said, the Godolphin team is hoping this week ends with a different twist two days later at Gulfstream Park – winning its first $3 million, Gr. I Pegasus World Cup Invitational presented by Baccarat with the 4-year-old homebred First Mission.


    Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Pegasus and the Kentucky Derby are about the only signature American races that Sheikh Mohammed has yet to win. However, Proxy, who finished fifth last year, also was Godolphin’s first starter in the Pegasus since the race was refashioned from the Donn Handicap in 2017.

The Brad Cox-trained First Mission is the 7-2 second choice in the field of 12, which is led by 9-5 favorite National Treasure, last year’s Preakness Stakes winner.

First Mission, a son of Godolphin’s Darley America stallion and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, comes into the Pegasus as the least experienced horse, having raced only five times, all last year.

    Unraced as a 2-year-old, First Mission captured Keeneland’s Gr. III Lexington in his third start last year but then was scratched from the Preakness with a minor issue. First Mission returned sixth months later to win a Keeneland allowance race before dropping a nose decision in the Gr. II Clark to fellow Pegasus entrant Trademark on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs.

“He’s still a horse that doesn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Michael Banahan, Godolphin USA’s director of bloodstock, said. “He had that long break and then ran against [Trademark], who loves Churchill and has plenty of hardened experience. He probably learned a lot from the race that day. We were probably disappointed not to the win the race but happy with how the horse ran. Since the Clark, we earmarked the Pegasus.

    “There are nice horses in there,” he added. “We go in there optimistic we’ll be able to compete with those horses. We like him and think he has plenty of upside. This will tell us the story if our lofty sights for him are correct or if we need to rein them in.”

Banahan acknowledged it was frustrating to miss last year’s Preakness and other marquee 3-year-old stakes.

    “We’re on the doorstep of a classic and would probably have been close to being the favorite in the race or very close to it,” he said. “We thought he’d run a big race in there. There are only three classics that come around every year, and we haven’t won too many. Yeah, it was frustrating at the time. But we all wear long pants and we have to roll with the punches a little bit and come back and try and regroup and do the best we can.

    “It wasn’t anything major [that sidelined First Mission], just sort of juvenile issues more than anything. We figured at the time that if we needed to give him time off, then let’s give him the [extra] time off and come back as a bigger, stronger version of himself.”

    While Godolphin has always commanded respect wherever it runs horses, its staggering numbers the past few years show Sheikh Mohammed’s increased emphasis on American racing – developing and keeping horses here rather than shipping them to Dubai. The expanded American operation has led North America in purse earnings and graded stakes victories the past three years, including last year’s $17.27 million and 27, respectively.

    “Powerhouse stable,” said Cox, whose Godolphin-owned horses have included two-time champion Essential Quality. “Pretty easy to see that when you see the leaderboards and the stats they put up. They’re obviously a world-class operation, all class to deal with, great team to work with in America headed by Michael Banahan and Dan Pride. I really just enjoy working with those guys.

    “First Mission came in rated as one of their better colts,” he added. “He was one that just wasn’t quite ready for what we were asking him to do [as a 2-year-old], so we gave him some time off. He came back in the fall and marched forward. Now he’s grown up mentally and physically.”

    Godolphin’s two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody’s Wish is a solid favorite to be crowned 2023 Horse of the Year. Racing’s most poignant story of 2023 was Hall of Famer Bill Mott-trainee’s special relationship with Cody Dorman, who was born with Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome and confined to a wheelchair while communicating through a digital tablet. Cody died from a medical event while returning home from the Breeders’ Cup after watching his namesake’s last career race before joining Godolphin’s Darley America stallion band.

    Godolphin also has Kentucky Oaks heroine and three-time Gr. I winner Pretty Mischievous as the front-runner for the 3-year-old filly championship, with Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Master of the Seas a finalist for champion male turf horse.

    We have some stiff competition in there,” Banahan said of the Eclipse Awards. “But that would be a fantastic way to start the year. We had a super year last year, a special year. I think we won 12 Grade 1 races, following on 2022 and 2021, which were unbelievable years as well. We’ve been very lucky riding the crest of a wave for the last couple of years. We’d like to continue to ride that for another year or however long we can. Hopefully a horse like First Mission can jump up there and replace our stellar horse horses from the last couple of years, where Cody’s Wish and Proxy sort of led the charge in the
older division.“

    “We’re very grateful the boss has given us the opportunity to have the quality of these horses in the States to race under the Godolphin banner,” he added. “I suppose our broodmare band has become more and more dirt-centric than it was 20 years ago, when we were trying to feed the European stable more so. As we’ve gotten a bigger stable the last 10 years in America, it’s really a stand-alone, independent version of Godolphin for just America. We’re getting those results now.”



Cox also has a vested interest in the Eclipse Awards, with Juddmonte Farms’ Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Idiomatic the overwhelming favorite to be voted champion older filly or mare. Cox himself is a finalist for outstanding trainer, an honor he won in 2020 and 2021.

Sunday, January 21, 2024
Scores at Santa Anita and Fair Grounds . . .

    H & E Ranch’s Desert Dawn (Cupid – Ashley’s Glory) tracked the leaders three wide from off the pace in Santa Anita’s $100,000, Gr. III La Canada Stakes, rallied to the lead turning for home, then held on gamely and was best by a length. It’s the second graded stakes win for the 5-year-old daughter of Cupid, trained by Philip D’Amato, now 19-3-5-5 with $956,525 in earnings. Consigned by Summerfield (Francis & Barbara Vanlangendonck), Agent for H & E Ranch, she went through the ring at the 2020 OBS October Selected Yearling Sale.

    FMQ Stables’ Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming – New Narration) is on track for a trip to the rich Gr. I Saudi Cup after bouncing to the lead in the $175,000, Gr. III Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds and never looking back en route to a facile 5 3/4 length victory. It’s the second graded stakes win for the Gr. I stakes-winning son of Always Dreaming, consigned by Top Line Sales, Agent, to the 2022 OBS Spring Sale, and sold for $240,000 after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Trained by Brad Cox, he’s now 7-4-2-0 and earned $982,085.  

Two OBS graduates earned TDN Rising Star status over the weekend.

    Zedan Racing Stables' Maymun (Frosted – Handwoven) went straight to the lead in his debut for trainer Bob Baffert in an $86,000 maiden test at Santa Anita, quickly opened daylight, then drew away effortlessly to a 7 1/2 length victory. Consigned by Longoria Training & Sales, Agent, to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, the colt by Frosted turned in an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5 and sold for $900,000 to Donato Lanni, Agent. 

    Manama Gold (Star Guitar – Charged Cotton) earned TDN Rising Star status on Friday at Meydan with a 9 1/4 length victory in the Cocoa Beach Stakes. Now two-for-two, the 3-year-old filly by Star Guitar was consigned to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale by Richardson Bloodstock, Agent, and purchased for $200,000 by Oliver St. Lawrence Bloodstock after breezing an eighth in :10 1/5 at the Under Tack Show. 

OBS graduates captured a pair of stakes on Friday at Sunland Park.

    Jeremy Ramsland’s Lucky Jeremy (Lookin At Lucky – Powder N Blush) tried stakes company for the first time in the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby, tracked the pace, swung out for the drive, took command in deep stretch and eased away to win by two lengths. It’s the second straight win for the 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky, now 3-2-0-0 with $115,080 in the bank for trainer William E. Morey. After speeding an Under Tack quarter in :21 1/5, he was purchased for $50,000 out of the GOP Racing Stable consignment. 

    Holly Wilson and David Wilson’s Chesterette (Practical Joke- Jenny’s So Great) came wide into the stretch in the $65,000 Bold Ego Handicap, caught the leaders a furlong out and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over fellow OBS graduate Raneem (Fed Biz – J P’s Flashy Honey). It’s the first stakes victory for the 5-year-old mare by Practical Joke, consigned by Julie Davies, Agent, to the 2021 OBS Spring Sale and sold for $300,000 after speeding an Under Tack eighth in:9 4/5. Trained by Bart G. Hone, she’s now 10-4-3-0 and has earned $151,543. 

Friday, January 19, 2024
Gr. I Pegasus is worth $3 million . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The $3 million, Gr. I Pegasus World Cup Invitational, $1 million, Gr. I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and $500,000, Gr. II Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf will be supported on Gulfstream Park’s Jan. 27 star-studded program by four other graded stakes that have attracted the nominations of many prominent stakes performers from prominent North American stables.

    The $200,000, Gr. II Inside Information presented by Don Julio Tequila, drew 23 nominations on a list of older fillies and mares topped by Dr. Rodney Lundock’s Maryquitecontrary, the seven-furlong stakes’ defending champion. The late-running 5-year-old daughter of First Dude is coming off an impressive victory in the Dec. 30 Rampart at Gulfstream in her first start for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.

    Last year, Maryquitecontrary captured the Rampart before winning the Inside Information and finishing a close-up third in the Gr. I Madison at Keeneland. Vegso Racing Stable’s Imonra and Sheri Greenberg Racing and Staghawk Stables’ Unifying, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Rampart, are also on the Inside Information noms list.

    Southern California-based Phil D’Amato is represented on the Inside Information noms list by Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso’s Hot Peppers, who is coming off a second-place finish in the Jan. 1, Gr. III Las Flores at Santa Anita. The Florida-bred 5-year-old daughter of Khozan launched her career by winning three of four starts at Gulfstream.

    Pamela Ziebarth’s Sweet Azteca, a late-developing 4-year-old daughter of Sharp Azteca, has been nominated to the Inside Information after finishing third, 1 ¼ lengths behind runner-up Hot Peppers, in the Las Flores in only her second career start. Trainer Michael McCarthy saddled City of Light for a victory in the 2019 Pegasus World Cup.

    The $150,000, Gr. III Fred W. Hooper presented by Whispering Angel, a mile stakes for older horses, received 29 nominations, including Albaugh Family Stables’ Cyclone Mischief, who finished third behind Forte and Mage in last year’s $1 million, Gr. I Curlin Florida Derby. The Dale Romans-trained son of Into Mischief is coming off a fourth-place finish in a Nov. 26 allowance at Churchill Downs in his first start since finishing off the board in the Kentucky Derby. Romans is also represented on the noms list for the 37th running of the Hooper by Albaugh Family Stables and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Giant Game, who won the Cornhusker last year.

    Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has nominated Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Hejazi, who is coming off a second-place finish in the Dec. 26, Gr. I Malibu at Santa Anita, and SF Racing and partners’ Fort Bragg, who captured the Gr. III Dwyer at Belmont following a fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby last year.

    The $200,000 William L. McKnight, a 1 ½-mile turf stakes for older horses, drew 34 nominations on a talent-deep list topped by Red Rafa Stud Inc’s Planetario, a Brazilian import who most recently captured the Nov. 24, Gr. II Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar. Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella also saddled the 6-year-old campaigner for a victory in the Gr. III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita.

    Trainer Chad Brown is represented on the McKnight noms list by three horses, including Peter Brant’s Francesco Clemente, an Irish-bred son of Dubawi who was beaten by just a neck by the Mandella trainee in the Hollywood Turf Cup. Brown’s other nominees are Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables, Michael Kisber and Michael Caruso’s Rockemperor, a Gr. II stakes-winner, and Westberg, Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Stone Age.

    Harrell Ventures’ Main Event, who is coming off a victory in the Gr. II Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream, is nominated to the McKnight, but is also on the invitation list for the Pegasus World Cup Turf. Michael Hui and Phil Forte’s Value Engineering, who finished second in the McKnight last season before winning the Gr. II Mac Diarmida, is one of Michael Maker-trained horses nominated to the McKnight.

    The $150,000, Gr. III La Prevoyante, a 1 ½-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares, drew 17 nominations, led by Team Valor International’s Romagna Mia, a 5-year-old British-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman. The Graham Motion trainee is coming off a seven-length romp in the Dec. 26 Via Borghese at Gulfstream that following a three-length score in the Gr. III Dowager at Keeneland.

    Motion-trained Sister Otoole, who is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, has also been nominated to the La Prevoyante following a third-place finish in the Gr. III Red Carpet at Del Mar. The 7-year-old daughter of Pleasant Acres' Amira's Prince, who was bred by Joe and Helen Barbazon, sports a record of 4-5-6 in 23 starts and earnings of $431,470.

    Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing’s R Calli Kim is prominent on the La Prevoyante noms list after winning her four most recent starts for trainer Brendan Walsh, including an impressive 2 ½-length victory in the Gr. III Long Island at Aqueduct last time out.

Saturday, January 13, 2024
Conquest Warrior, Turn Up the Trees impress . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Hall of Fame trainers Shug McGaughey and Todd Pletcher visited the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle Saturday following highly impressive graduation performances by 3-year-olds Conquest Warrior and Turn Up the Trees, respectively.

    Courtlandt Farms’ Conquest Warrior ($9) overcame a troubled start that left him trailing the 10-horse field on the backstretch with a stunning wide stretch drive to prevail by a half-length over Pletcher-trained Antiquarian in Race 9, a mile maiden special weight event.

    The McGaughey-trained son of City of Light, who had a slow start in his debut before finishing third Dec. 2 at Aqueduct, was also briefly held up in traffic on the turn into the homestretch before unleashing a powerful stretch rally. The $1 million Keeneland September sale purchase ran a mile in 1:38.57 over a fast main track with Jose Ortiz aboard.

“I was surprised he broke the way he did. I knew he’d be back and then finish,” McGaughey said. “I was surprised by the effort he put in today with the trip he had for a young horse.”

McGaughey said he would look for an allowance race ‘and take it from there.’

            Pletcher unveiled St. Elias Stable’s Turn Up the Trees, a half-length debut winner over 50-1 long shot pacesetter Celtic Pride in Race 6, a maiden special weight for sophomores. The winning time was 1:12.20 for six furlongs over a fast main track.

            “I think he’s still got a lot to learn. He didn’t break great. We wanted to get some early position so [jockey John Velazquez] had to use him a little bit and it looked like he was kind of kept to task throughout. I think he’s going to benefit a lot from having the race.”

            Turn Up the Trees fetched $500,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2022. His sire is millionaire Liam’s Map, who won six of eight races including the 2015 Woodward (G1) and Dirt Mile for Pletcher.

            “He had been training well. I thought his last gate work was very promising, so he came in with high hopes,” Pletcher said. “Anytime you can win first time out, you don’t take that for granted.”

            Pletcher also ran third in Race 6 with another first-timer, Seventeen Twenty Racing Stable, Repole Stable, Michael Wagner and Jackpot Farm’s Maximus Speed, a gelded son of Runhappy.

            “He made a late move and closed well to get up for third,” Pletcher said. “I thought that was encouraging.”

            Centennial Farms’ Antiquarian, also trained by Pletcher who was caught late by Conquest Warrior, was making his debut in Race 9. The son of Preservationist was purchased for $250,000 at the Keeneland September sale.
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Son of Bucchero has won 4-of-5 . . .
    OLDSMAR - As the field turned for home in the 26th running of the $125,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs with five of the six horses virtually abreast, an enthusiastic crowd braced for a fantastic finish. They got it, but maybe not the sort most were expecting.

    Three-year-old gelding Book’em Danno, the 1-10 betting favorite, overpowered his rivals through the lane, drawing away under jockey Samuel Marin to a 12 ½-length victory. West Saratoga fought gamely to finish second, a neck ahead of Rathmore.

 Book'em Danno’s time for the 7-furlong distance on a fast (but perhaps still drying out) track was 1:23.26. He paid $2.20 to win, a price usually seen here only in show pools and candy lines, and the $2 3-1 exacta paid $4.40.

    “That was perfect. I was so confident before the race – when I got out of the jockeys’ room, I knew I was going to win,” said Marin. “I’ve won on him twice before (including the Smoke Glacken Stakes on Sept. 9 at Monmouth) and I’ve been working on him almost every morning and teaching him.”

    The victory was the fourth in five starts for the New Jersey-bred son of Bucchero-Adorabella, by Ghostzapper, who is owned by Atlantic Six Racing (Jim Scappi and brothers Jim and Mark Rubenstein among the partners) and trained by Derek Ryan, who won the 2009 Pasco Stakes with Musket Man.

    “This was just what I wanted,” said Ryan, who thinks Book’em Danno could be undefeated had he not been forced to set the pace in the Nashua Stakes on Nov. 5 at Aqueduct in his most recent start, finishing second. “Put an easy race into him and move forward. That’s the way he likes to run. I could have ridden him myself today.”

    Both Samy Camacho, the jockey on West Saratoga, and Gabriel Maldonado, the rider on fourth-place finisher El Principito, claimed foul against the winner, but there was little doubt the result would be allowed to stand. Nitpickers might have seen interference on the turn, but no one in the field was getting close to Book’em Danno today.

    Larry Demeritte, the trainer of Gr. III stakes-winner West Saratoga, said his horse got checked into the turn, but he didn’t dispute the stewards’ verdict. “I thought my horse made a fight of it and ran a great race to get second,” Demeritte said. “Our plan is to keep him here and train up to the (Gr. III Sam F.) Davis (on Feb. 10).”

    The Book’em Danno team has numerous options, including a possible overseas venture for the $1.5-million Saudi Cup on Feb. 24. But for now, allow them to enjoy this tour de force.

    The Pasco was one of three stakes races on a Skyway Festival Day card held under partly cloudy skies, with strong winds that made it feel a bit colder than 57 degrees.

    In the 40th edition of the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Florida-bred Mystic Lake took the lead at the outset and was never headed, holding on for a ¾-length victory over an onrushing Gorgeous Girl. Corinth, an 87-1 shot, finished third.

    Winning jockey Edgard Zayas was delighted by Mystic Lake’s performance, which came a race after he was unseated by Libban, his mount in the Wayward Lass Stakes, in the starting gate. Libban pinched Zayas’s right ankle against the side of the starting gate, and the incident caused a delay of several minutes as Zayas was attended to. But jockeys are a gritty bunch, and Zayas said after the Gasparilla it was going to take more for him to surrender the mount on Mystic Lake.

    “I feel a little sore, but we’re hanging on,” he said with a smile.

    The victory was the second in five starts for Mystic Lake, a daughter of Mo Town out of Salty Soul, by Itsmyluckyday. Her time for the 7-furlong distance was 1:24.69. She paid $3.60 to win as the heavy betting favorite. The 87-1 shot Corinth finished third in the seven-horse field.

    Mystic Lake is owned by C2 Racing Stable and Stefania Farms and trained by Saffie A. Joseph Jr.

    Joseph said Mystic Lake’s career debut last August at Gulfstream was a mystery, as she was never in contention after training well leading to the race. Her form turned around on the Tapeta surface at Woodbine, with a maiden victory, a second in the Glorious Song Stakes and a third in the Mazarine Stakes.

    “We’ve thought a lot of her all along, and we figured that first start just wasn’t her day,” Joseph said from his Gulfstream Park base. “She’s a very honest filly and this shows she can get 7 furlongs. I’ll talk it over with Mark (Cornett, the owner of C2 Racing Stable) and come up with a game plan from here. I think she’ll go turf, too.”

    Mystic Lake earned a $25,000 winner’s bonus as a Florida-bred, upping her winnings to $55,000, just shy of her career earnings entering the race.

    “She took the lead and we never looked back,” Zayas said. “She might have been stopping a little late, but she went quick early and the track was a little deep. All I had to do was hold on, and she kept trying even when (Gorgeous Girl) came up on the outside.”

    In the 40th running of the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes for older fillies and mares, jockey Daniel Centeno angled Opus Forty Two to the outside with a furlong remaining and the 4-year-old did the rest, speeding past a game Dream Concert, the wagering favorite, by ¾-length. Magical Lute flattened out late, finishing third.

    The winner’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance was 1:44.90. She improved to 4-for-11 lifetime. It was the fifth Wayward Lass Stakes victory for Centeno, who rode Opus Forty Two to victory in last year’s Gasparilla Stakes.

    Opus Forty Two, a Kentucky-bred filly by Mendelssohn out of Laquesta, by Lemon Drop Kid, is owned by Mark B. Grier and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

    “She didn’t break very sharp today, so I didn’t want to rush her,” Centeno said. “She relaxed real well behind the pace-setters and I didn’t have to fight her. At the 3/8-mile pole there was nowhere to go, but I got her out at the 1/8-pole and put her way outside and you saw what she did – she just exploded.

    “I knew she was better in the clear, but I didn’t expect that kind of response,” said Centeno, who also won the third race on 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Misterchilliwilli for owner Robert Deckert Jr., and trainer Michael Simone. 

    Delacour said Opus Forty Two exceeded his expectations. “She’s a pro. She does things the same way every day, and as soon as Danny put her in the clear she dug in and showed a good kick,” Delacour said. “She is quite aggressive in her training, so I don’t have to do much to get her ready.

    “That was not an easy field and I would have been happy if she had hit the board,” added Delacour, who won his third Wayward Lass
.
Friday, January 12, 2024
Whisper Hill filly pays $2.40 . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher made back-to-back visits to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle following impressive victories by a pair of talented 3-year-old fillies on Thursday’s program.

    Whisper Hill Farm’s Leslie’s Rose ($2.40) remained undefeated in two starts after winning Race 6, a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies. The Pletcher-trained daughter of Into Mischief, who graduated by 9 ½ lengths in a 6 ½-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct Nov. 19, raced outside Gun Song into the stretch before edging away to win by a length over the stubborn pacesetter.

    Irad Ortiz Jr. rode Leslie’s Rose, who ran seven-furlongs in 1:23.36. Gun Rose was 7 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Sing a Little Song.

    “She was very impressive in her debut, and she’s trained well since then,” Pletcher said. “She has natural speed, but I think she’ll run further. I couldn’t be more pleased with her. That’s a pretty nice filly that got beat. It looked like they had good separation.” Pletcher said a yet-to-be-determined stakes appearance was likely for her next start.

    One race earlier on Thursday’s card, Pletcher-trained Pretty Liam ($9.80) graduated by 3 ¾ lengths in her career debut in a five-furlong maiden special weight race for 3-year-old fillies that was transferred from turf to Tapeta. The daughter of Liam’s Map saved ground behind the early pace before Ortiz eased her off the rail at the top of the stretch, where she caught pacesetter Beanpot and drew away to victory.

    “I thought she ran really well, too. I didn’t know what to expect on the synthetic,” Pletcher said. “She’s a half to a multiple-stakes winner on turf, so we kind of thought that was a logical place to get started. When it came off, we were confident to run her, and it worked out.”

    St. Elias Stable’s Pretty Liam, who ran five furlongs on Tapeta in :55.37 seconds, is a half-sister to Danse Macabre, a multiple stakes-winner with earnings just shy of $1 million. Kelsey Danner-trained Danse Macabre won the Gr. III Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream last season. Pletcher said Pretty Liam is likely to return in a turf allowance.
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Finish 1-2-3 in San Vicente . . .

    Hours after joining Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning OBS March and Winter Mixed Sale graduate White Abarrio as an Eclipse Award finalist, Zedan Racing Stables’ Muth (Good Magic – Hoppa) made his 3-year-old debut in Santa Anita’s $200,000, Gr. II San Vicente Stakes.

    Leading a 1-2-3 OBS sweep, he came from just off the pace to charge past fellow OBS March graduate Pilot Commander (Justify – Rebuke) and win by 2 3/4 lengths, with OBS Spring Sale grad Slider (Jimmy Creed – Days Like This) checking in third. The 3-year-old colt by Good Magic is now 5-3-2-0 for trainer Bob Baffert and has earned $716,600.

    Consigned to the 2023 OBS March Sale by Top Line Sales, Agent, he was purchased by Donato Lanni, Agent, for a sale record-equaling $2 million after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :9 3/5. 

    Joseph P. Morey, Jr.’s Vote No (Divisidero – Sistas Ready) is three for four with two stakes wins after coming from off the pace in Saturday’s $125,000 Turfway Preview Stakes, taking command passing the eighth pole and drawing away to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Trained by William E. Morey, the graded stakes-placed 3-year-old colt by Divisidero is now 4-3-0-1 and has earned $425,338.

    A two-time OBS graduate, he was sold by KP Sales at the 2022 October Yearling Sale and then purchased for $50,000 out of the de Meric Sales consignment at the 2023 June Sale after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5. 

    Gary Barber’s Bron and Brow (Gormley – Changing Vista) successfully defended his title in Saturday’s $100,000 Gary P. Palmisano Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds, tracking the leaders from the outside, slipping inside turning for home, reaching the lead in deep stretch and easing away to score by 2 1/4 lengths.

    That’s four stakes victories for the 5-year-old son of Gormley, purchased for $200,000 out of the Grassroots Training & Sales consignment at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale after working an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Trained by Mark Casse, he’s now 16-6-4-3 with earnings of $384,370.  

    LSU Stables’ Ari’s Magic (Good Magic – Ari the Adventurer) earned TDN “Rising Star” status with a sensational debut at Tampa Bay Downs on Friday, rallying to the leaders on the turn, taking charge late and drawing away to win by 4 3/4 lengths. The 3-year-old colt by Good Magic, consigned to the 2023 OBS March Sale by Top Line Sales, Agent, was purchased for $725,000 by Steven W. Young, Agent, after turning in an Under Tack eighth in:10 flat. 

 

Saturday, January 6, 2024
    OLDSMAR - Assistant trainer Will Sacco says the main lessons he takes away from his...
    OLDSMAR - Assistant trainer Will Sacco says the main lessons he takes away from his father Gregg are of the unspoken variety.

    “You have to really have that horsemanship that I've seen just by watching him in the morning” to succeed in the sport, 23-year-old Will said after his dad earned the Boot Barn Trainer of the Month Award. 

    “My dad’s love for the horses is what I’ve really taken from working with him. He always does what is best for the horse, whether it’s giving them a break or trying to find what agrees with them – the right equipment, distance, and surface. They can't talk back, so you really have to have that level of horsemanship."

    For the elder Sacco, who is tied for third place in the Tampa Bay Downs standings with eight victories after 4-year-old filly Forever Rose’s come-from-behind maiden victory in today’s fifth race on the turf, those lessons are an extension of the legacy handed to him by his late father, trainer William J. Sacco.

    Forever Rose is owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and MyRacehorse and was ridden by Antonio Gallardo.

    “I had a wonderful relationship with my dad, and Will reminds me a lot of him,” Gregg, 58, said. “He’s stubborn at times, but he’s a smart kid and a very talented horseman. He leads our staff, which without their tireless efforts any of our successes would not come to fruition.

    “I’m looking forward to him training on his own, which I think is not that far off in the future. He started from the ground up doing everything with me, from hotwalking to grooming. He’s got a keen eye at the sales and picks out a lot of our horses, and he’s in charge of our daily routine.

    “A lot of what we do on the backside, I’ve left to my son,” Gregg added.

    Will, who spent most of his summers as a youngster around his father’s Monmouth Park barn, spent a month at the University of Kentucky in 2018 before deciding to follow his father’s path. He joined the operation in 2019 and was named assistant at the start of the 2022-2023 Oldsmar meet.

    His father’s career will make his pedigree obvious to everyone he encounters along his way.

    Now in his second season at Tampa Bay Downs, Gregg Sacco has trained 798 career winners. His best horse probably was Mind Control, who won five graded stakes under his care from 2018-2020, including the Grade I Hopeful and the Grade I H. Allen Jerkens, both at Saratoga. Other top Sacco-trained runners include Grade III winners Foreverness, a gelding, and the filly Unbridled Essence, and Joevia, who finished third in the 2019 Belmont Stakes.

    He’s trained many, many more of lesser ability, and Will knows that’s part of the sport as well.

    “Training horses is seven days a week, and you have to be at the barn early if you’ve had a bad day or won three races,” Will said. “You have to love it and you have to keep looking forward. When we leave the barn and get home, we talk about horses, and around the dinner table we talk about horses.”

    That makes perfect sense, when you realize how much joy it brings them.

    Around the oval. Oisin Murphy, the talented Irishman who was British Champion Jockey in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and won the 2021 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Marche Lorraine, came up from Gulfstream to treat fans to two victories from two mounts.

    Murphy got the mount on 3-year-old colt Ari’s Magic in the sixth race when Samy Camacho was taken off after falling from his mount in the previous race due to the track’s concussion protocol.

    Murphy helped the LSU Stables’s-owned, Christophe Clement-trained Ari’s Magic break his maiden for fun, then Murphy won the eighth race on 4-year-old colt Alexander Helios after a spirited stretch duel with Conspiracy Fact. Alexander Helios is owned by Diane and John Fradkin and trained by Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.

    Camacho gained a measure of solace by winning the seventh race on the turf on Crafty King, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Team Equistaff and trained by Gerald Bennett.

    Antonio Gallardo rode two winners. In addition to his triumph on Forever Rose, he won the first race on Sheza Nasty Girl, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned and trained by Victor Carrasco, Jr.

    Trainer Wayne Potts won back-to-back races. He captured the third with Fly Fly Away, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Joseph Irace and Alfred Noll and ridden by Jose Ferrer. Potts added the fourth with Bold Medication, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Irace and Noll and ridden by Kevin Gomez.
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Two for $125,000, one for $50,000 . . .

    OLDSMAR - Patriot Spirit, an impressive winner of the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 2; Grade III stakes-winner West Saratoga; and two-time stakes-winner Book’em Danno are among 20 3-year-old colts and geldings nominated to the 26th edition of the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes on Jan. 13 at Tampa Bay Downs.

    The Pasco is one of three stakes on a Skyway Festival Day card. The others are the 40th running of the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the 40th running of the $50,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward. All three races will be contested on the main track.

    The Gasparilla closed with 24 nominations and the Wayward Lass drew 18 nominations. Entries will be taken in the Racing Office on Wednesday, Jan. 10.

    Patriot Spirit, a Kentucky-bred son of Constitution owned by George Mellon’s Mellon Patch, and trained by Michael Campbell, improved to 2-for-4 lifetime with his victory in the Inaugural. He turned in a 6-furlong workout of 1:14 4/5 here on Saturday.


    The next four finishers in the Inaugural – Crazy Mason, Rathmore, Sir Flash and Gotts Got It – are also nominated to the Pasco.

    West Saratoga, owned by Harry L. Veruchi and trained by Larry Demeritte, captured the Gr. III Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs, then wrapped up his 2-year-old campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Gr. I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 7 at Keeneland.

    Book’em Danno, a gelding owned by Atlantic Six Racing and trained by Derek Ryan, won the Smoke Glacken Stakes on Sept. 9 at Monmouth and the Futurity Stakes on Oct. 8 at the Belmont At The Big A meet before finishing second to Where’s Chris in the Nashua Stakes on Nov. 5 at Belmont.


    Other stakes-winners nominated to the Pasco are Bentornato, from the barn of Jose Francisco D’Angelo; and Sweet Soddy J, trained by Raymond E. Ginter Jr.

    The Gasparilla nominees include Let Them Watch, a Florida-bred daughter of Maximus Mischief who won the Sandpiper Stakes here in gate-to-wire fashion on Dec. 2. She is owned by Case Chambers and trained by Michael Maker. Let Them Watch also won the Sharp Susan Stakes in August at Gulfstream Park as a 2-year-old.

    Other Gasparilla nominees include Irish Maxima, who finished fifth in the Gr. I Frizette on Oct. 7 at Belmont At The Big A, trained by John Servis; Leslie’s Rose, a Todd Pletcher-trained filly who won her career debut by 9 ¼ lengths on Nov. 19 at Aqueduct; trainer Saffie A. Joseph Jr.’s restricted stakes-winner R Harper Rose; and Joseph’s Mystic Lake, third in the Gr. III Mazarine Stakes on Nov. 4 at Woodbine.

   The Wayward Lass has drawn a quality group of nominees, including trainer Gerald Bennett’s 4-year-old filly Dreaming of Snow, a stakes-winner who captured a 7-furlong allowance/optional claiming event here on Dec. 9; 5-year-old Evidencias, a Brazilian import trained by Christophe Clement; 4-year-old Opus Forty Two, the winner of last year’s Gasparilla, trained by Arnaud Delacour; and trainer Tim Padilla’s Minnesota-bred stakes-winners, 5-year-old She’s My Warrior and 6-year-old Molly’s Angel.

    Around the oval - Charlie Marquez rode three winners yesterday. He swept the early double, winning the first race on 3-year-old filly Chief Lady for owner Winner Circle Stables and trainer Gregg Sacco and taking the second on 3-year-old filly Pamz Palace, owned by Roger B. Sterling and trained by Crystal Pickett.

    Marquez added the fifth race on the turf with Aloha Man, a 3-year-old colt owned by Crystal G. Pickett and Marblehead Management One and trained by Pickett.

    Samuel Marin rode two winners. He won the fourth race on The Sweaty Fox, a 5-year-old mare owned by Harry Hoglander and trained by Tony Wilson. Marin added the ninth and final race on the turf with Magical Marriage, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Dennis A. Drazin and trained by Patrick McBurney.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Five weekend stakes-winners . . .

    Harrell Ventures’s Main Event took the lead at the start of Saturday’s $200,000, Gr. II Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park and refused to yield, hanging on gamely and scoring by a head. It’s the second graded stakes win for the now 5-year-old son of Bernardini, trained by George Weaver, now 13-5-1-0 with $457,783 in earnings. Consigned by Ocala Stud, Agent, to the 2021 OBS Spring sale, he was purchased for $130,000 by Steven W. Young, Agent, after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :21 3/5. 

    U.S. Equine’s Angel Nadeshiko (Carpe Diem – Ciachetta) captured her first stakes win in the $100,000, Gr. III Robert J. Frankel Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita with a frontrunning ¾ length victory. Fellow OBS grad Oakhurst (Mr Speaker – Happiness Is) checked in third. It’s the first stakes win for the newly- turned 5-year-old daughter of OBS graduate Carpe Diem, now 16-3-3-2 for trainer Patrick Gallagher, with earnings of $227,780. At the 2021 OBS Spring Sale, she turned in an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 and was purchased out of the Kings Equine consignment for $100,000. 

    Lea Farms’ Power Squeeze (Union Rags – Callmethesqueeze) rated off the pace in Gulfstream’s $150,000 Cash Run Stakes on New Year’s Day, rallied to take command a furlong from home and drew away to score by five lengths. March Sale grad Done Enough (Flameaway – Revengeful Pleasure) checked in third. It was the stakes debut and second straight win for the newly-turned 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags, trained by Jorge Delgado, now 4-2-1-0 with $128,650 in earnings. After turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she was purchased for $90,000 out of the Halcyon Hammock consignment.


    Victoriam Farm’s Stone Silent (Adios Charlie – Travelator) tracked the pace from the outside in Gulfstream’s $100,000 Abundantia Stakes on New Year’s Eve, rallied to take charge at the sixteenth pole and eased away late to win by a length and three quarters over OBS June graduate Choose Joy (Munnings – Elegantly). It’s the first stakes victory for the now 4-year-old Florida-bred filly by Adios Charlie, consigned by Ocala Stud, Agent, to the 2022 OBS March Sale and sold for $410,000 after working an Under Tack quarter in :20 2/5. Trained by Brian Lynch, she’s now 9-3-2-1 and h
as earned $219,698. 

    Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber’s Bold Journey (Hard Spun – Polly Freeze) was a 4-1/2 length winner of the $150,000 Gravesend Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct, rallying and taking the lead a furlong from home. Fellow OBS graduate Durante (Distorted Humor – Seahawk Girl) settled for third. That’s three straight wins for the graded stakes-winning newly-turned 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, now 20-7-6-0 for trainer Bill Mott, with $568,743 in earnings. He was purchased for $80,000 out of the McKathan Bros. consignment at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10.51. 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, December 29, 2023
    HALLANDALE BEACH- Gulfstream Park’s 11-race program Saturday not only offers four...

    HALLANDALE BEACH- Gulfstream Park’s 11-race program Saturday not only offers four stakes races, including preps for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), but a mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6.

            The sequence, which begins in Race 6, will have all four stakes with the two final sequences being the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at 1 1/16-mile on the main track and $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at 1 1/8-mile on the turf.

The Rainbow 6 sequence begins at approximately 2:34 p.m.

            Race 6 (Leg 1)

            3-year-olds and up, mile & 70 yards Tapeta, claiming $10,000


            There are 15 entered (three on the AE) and Irad Ortiz Jr. is named aboard Unified Weekend, who drops from a $20,000 claimer off a second place finish last time out in October. Two horses go out for new barns after claims. Gooch Go Bragh was claimed by Jorge Delgado (23-percent off claim) and Chapalu by Steve Budhoo (18 percent off claim). Chapalu has four wins from six starts on the Tapeta and is three for six at the distance. Most Wanted Man is on the AE, but if he gets in he’s the only horse coming into the race off a victory. Trainer Mike Maker is 20-percent after winning last start. Most Wanted Man’s only Tapeta start was a victory. Artemus Bridge drops from a third-place finish at Tampa in a $16,000 claimer. He’s 1-2-1 in five starts on Tapeta for Steve Klesaris. Paco Lopez rides.

      Race 7 (Leg 2)

            3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs turf, $71,000 allowance optional claimer


            The field of eight may have to run down the quick Cruzin Man, who won a $50,000 claimer at Del Mar and finished third in an allowance optional claimer there before returning to South Florida and getting caught late in his return Dec. 2. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides for Rohan Crichton, a combination that clicks at 45 percent. The son of Chitu is 1-1-3 in five turf sprints. Richy gets Luis Saez and starts for the first time since finishing third in a turf sprint at Saratoga. He enters with a pair of ‘bullet’ works at Nelson Jones Farm and Training Center. Al Atlasi tries the turf for the first time. He broke his maiden on Tapeta in September. Trained by Ralph Nicks, the son of Mshawish is out of Al Khazaaliya, who won around two turns on the turf at Gulfstream. Michael Trombetta saddles Whenigettoheaven, stakes-placed against restricted company in Maryland. Lopez rides.

        Race 8 (Leg 3)

            Fillies and mares, 1 mile turf, $125,000 Suwannee River (G3)


            Very competitive field but Saffron Moon is expected to attract attention coming off a victory in the Cardinal (G3) at Churchill Downs Nov. 23. Chad Brown trains the 4-year-old filly who is three for five on the turf and Tyler Gaffalione rides and draws the rail. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. sends out Accomplished Girl, winner of the Presque Isle Masters (G2) on Tapeta but who hasn’t run longer than 6 ½ furlongs, and Sister Lou Ann, a winner over this course last year and at Kentucky Downs in the One Dreamer in September. Willakia, trained by Graham Motion, was second to Saffron Moon under allowance conditions at Keeneland in October. Tequilera, trained by Michael Matz, is 3-5-3 in 14 turf starts and has won her last two at Kentucky Downs and Laurel Park.

            Race 9 (Leg 4)

            3-year-olds and up, mile & 70 yards Tapeta, $100,000 St. Augustine

            A dozen are entered and Fly the W, a winner of 11 of 22 Tapeta races, draws the rail for trainer Bobby Dibona and jockey Luis Saez, who are 29-percent together. Both Mike Maker and Mark Casse have entered a pair. Casse sends out Conglomerate, looking for his third consecutive victory on synthetic, and Volcanic, who is four of six on Gulfstream’s Tapeta. Maker sends out Beuys, who has two seconds and a victory in his last three starts, all on turf, in New York and Kentucky, and Tiberius Mercurius, who raced last time out on the slop at Fair Grounds off a 3 ½ month layoff. Has won three of six on Tapeta. Skyro, trained by Brian Lynch, has won on turf, twice on synthetic, and a couple times on dirt. Won the Sabal Palm over Gulfstream’s Tapeta last out.

            Race 10 (Leg 5)

            3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16-mile, $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3)

            The prep for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) has 11 going to post and O’Connor is the 5-2 favorite off his victory last time out in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland. Saffie Joseph Jr., trains and Tyler Gaffalione rides. Dubyuhnell ran up the track in the Florida Derby (G1) and was off until October when he won at Keeneland. Danny Gargan trains and the 3-year-old breaks from the rail under Luis Saez. Signator, trained by Shug McGaughey, enters on a two-race win streak. Graded placed Ny Traffic has won at the distance but enters off six consecutive sprints. Blue Devil was fourth in the Clark (G2) and third in the Lukas Classic (G3), while Octane enters off a victory in the restricted Campbell Memorial.

            Race 11 (Leg 6)

            3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8-mile, turf, $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2)

            The prep for the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) brings together a field of 10 and Calumet Farm’s Running Bee is sure to draw attention off an impressive victory at Aqueduct in November off a near year layoff. Chad Brown trains and Irad Ortiz Jr. rides. Brown also trains Stone Age, runner-up in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Todd Pletcher saddles Jerry the Nipper, who is stakes placed against New York bred company, and Grand Sonata, fourth in the River City (G3) last time out. Mike Maker saddles two in Red Run, fourth in the Sycamore (G3) and Suburban (G2), and Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy, who has earned $1.1 million but hasn’t won in 32 starts.

Sunday, December 24, 2023
Multiple takes-winner is by Bahamian Squall . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Off since May, Jacks or Better Farm’s Spirit Wind came back running in Saturday’s $125,000, Gr. III Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park, earning graded-stakes credentials with a front-running victory.

    The 41st running of the Sugar Swirl, a six-furlong test for fillies and mares, and the $125,000, Gr. III Mr. Prospector, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up, co-headlined Saturday’s program, supported by the $125,000 Tropical Park Oaks and the $125,000 Tropical Park Derby.

    Spirit Wind, who had demonstrated dazzling speed while winning four of her previous seven starts, ran to form Saturday, jumping to a clear early lead and setting fractions of :22.23 and :45.30 seconds under Jose Ortiz while well clear of the field for the first half-mile. The Carlos David-trained 4-year-old daughter of Bahamian Squall began to shorten stride in mid-stretch but held on gamely to finish a half-length ahead of runner-up Intrepid Daydream.

    “Carlos told me the works she’s had here were very good work. Obviously has back class and she obviously has speed,” Ortiz said. “She gave me a good jump out of the gate. She broke very clean. She relaxed very good.”

    Spirit Wind ($8.40) ran six furlongs in 1:10.58 to deny the late stretch-bid by Intrepid Daydream, who finished a neck ahead of third-place finisher Olivia Darling.

    The Jacks or Better homebred was a multiple stakes-winner who finished second behind Ce Ce in the Gr. II Princess Rooney during her 3-year-old season. She won an allowance in her 2023 debut at Gulfstream last March and finished fourth in the May 29, Gr. III Winning Colors at Churchill Downs before going to the sidelines.

    Spirit Wind was transferred to David’s Palm Meadows-based stable approximately a month again and entered the Sugar Swirl off one workout.

    “I wanted to give her one more work, but we had the bad weather,” David said. “I told Jose, ‘She might need the race. There’s a lot of speed. Just break good. If some of the others go to the lead, just sit.’ She grabbed the lead and as soon as she got the lead, she relaxed a little bit.”

    David said he’d look for another graded-stakes opportunity for Spirit Wind during the Championship Meet.
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Son of Not This Time will stand for $6,500 . . .

MORRISTON  – Pleasant Acres Stallions has announced the arrival of SIMPLIFICATION (Not This Time / Simply Confection, by Candy Ride) – who will stand in 2024 for $6,500.

    “We are pleased to bring a talented son of NOT THIS TIME into our stallion barn at Pleasant Acres Stallions,” said Director of Stallion Services Christine Jones. “SIMPLIFICATION is a hometown hero for all of us in Florida and we are certain breeders will benefit from breeding to this Horse-of-the-Year, Florida-bred graded stakes winner.” 

    At two, SIMPLIFICATION broke his maiden by an impressive 16 ¾ lengths on the main track at Gulfstream Park. He began his 3-year-old campaign with a front-running four-length victory in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes, then finished 2nd in the G3 Holy Bull Stakes to a future Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner. Next, he scored a 3 ½-length victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and finished 3rd in the G1 Florida Derby – his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 4th in a field of 20.

    SIMPLIFICATION went on to be 3rd in the G2 West Virginia Derby, G3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, and the G2 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes. A talented athlete, he retired sound with career earnings of nearly $900,000 and was in the money in close to 60% of his races.

    SIMPLIFICATION beat many exceptional rivals, including MG1 SW WHITE ABARRIO ($4,946,350) 2X, TAIBA ($2,356,200), CYBERKNIFE ($2,137,520), and G1Ws CLASSIC CAUSEWAY ($1,460,707) and MO DONEGAL ($1,511,800).

    “Simplification’s unique innate talent and competitive mindset made him the Florida champion that I’ve always wanted to train,” said Antonio Sano. “He proved to have speed, stamina, endurance, and above all, courage.” 

    SIMPLIFICATION is a son of NOT THIS TIME – the son of GIANT’S CAUSEWAY, a known provider of stamina. Standing in Kentucky for $150,000, NOT THIS TIME is a Top 10 General Sire of 2023 with five G1Ws, 13 GSWs, 30 BTWs (11.2%), 48 BTHs (18%) and an average of $120,861 per runner.

    SIMPLIFICATION’s female line is very impressive.  He is out of the CANDY RIDE mare Simply Confection – winner of three races with a 2nd in the Rags to Riches Stakes. She was named 2022 FTBOA Broodmare of the Year and is also dam of CHI CHI – winner of the E. L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes.

    SIMPLIFICATION’s 2nd dam, Ballado’s Halo, was stakes-placed with a 3rd in the Queen Stakes and Wishing Well Stakes. She produced HALO’S VERSE, dam of SWs INFLEXIBILITY and HALO AGAIN. His 3rd dam, GOULASH, a stakes-winner and graded stakes-placed runner, produced Champion 3YO Filly, Champion Older Female, Hall of Fame (2014) Inductee, and winner of the Breeders’ Cup - ASHADO ($3,931,440). GOULASH also produced G1W SUNRIVER and GSW SAINT STEPHEN. His 4th dam, WISE BRIDE, produced MGSW QUITE A BRIDE – granddam of MG1W LUCK IS BACK.

    “Simplification is an extremely balanced horse with a great shoulder and strong hind leg. He always gave his all and loved his job,” said Tristan de Meric. “With his physical presence and pedigree there is a lot of potential for him at stud. He’s an exciting addition to the Florida stallion roster and a great value!” 

    SIMPLIFICATION joins stallions Bodexpress (Bodemeister), Chess Chief (Into Mischief), Curlin’s Honor (Curlin), Doppelganger (Into Mischief), Gone Astray (Dixie Union), Gunnevera (Dialed In), Leinster (Majestic Warrior), Magic on Tap (Tapit), Neolithic (Harlan’s Holiday), No Never No More (Scat Daddy), and Sweetontheladies (Twirling Candy), at the 220-acre farm located just northwest of Ocala.

Monday, December 18, 2023
Guaranteed at $250,000 . . .

  HALLANDALE BEACH - A mandatory payoff of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is scheduled for Saturday’s program at Gulfstream Park.

   The Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $250,000 for Thursday’s program. The multi-race wager has gone unsolved for eight racing days following the most recent mandatory payout that yielded multiple $50,999 payoffs.

     Saturday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will include the $125,000 Tropical Park Oaks, $125,000 Sugar Swirl, $125,000 Mr. Prospector and the $125,000 Tropical Park Derby.

Accomplished Girl Breezes for Upcoming Stakes - 

    Gentry Farms’ Accomplished Girl, who captured the Gr. II Presque Isle Masters in her most recent start, breezed a half mile Sunday morning in preparation for an upcoming turf stakes. The 3-year-old daughter of Street Boss, who was timed in :50.91 seconds on the Tapeta course, defeated older rivals with a front-running score over Presque Isle Downs’ all-weather surface.

    “We haven’t decided yet. She’ll run in either the mile or the sprint,” said trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., referring to the mile Gr. III Suwannee River Dec. 30 or the five-furlong Abundantia on Dec. 31. “We’ll decide this week.”

    Prior to winning the Presque Isle Masters, Accomplished Girl finished second in a 6 ½-furlong allowance on turf at Kentucky Downs. She previously broke her maiden going five furlongs on turf and captured a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance on Tapeta at Gulfstream.

            Who’s Hot: Defending Championship Meet titlist Irad Ortiz Jr, who rode three winners on Friday before making another three trips to the winner’s circle Saturday, tripled again Sunday.


Monday, December 11, 2023
Nothing Like You wins Gr. II Starlet . . .

    Georgia Antley Hunt, Jeff Giglio and John L. Rogitz’s Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon – Miss Derek) dueled for the lead early in Saturday’s $200,500, Gr. II Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos, shook loose on the turn and drew off in the stretch to score by 5 1/4 lengths.

    It’s the second straight stakes victory for the 2-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, trained by Bob Baffert, now 6-3-1-0 with $237,160 in earnings. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she turned in an Under Tack eighth in: 10 flat and was purchased out of the Wildheart Thoroughbreds consignment for $190,000. 

    KEM Stables’ Hot Fudge (Liam’s Map – Nelle’s Mischief) stalked the leaders three wide in the $120,000 Garland of Roses Stakes at Aqueduct, took over a sixteenth out then held off a late charge to win by a neck. It’s the first stakes victory for the 3-year-old filly by Liam’s Map, consigned to the 2021 OBS Spring Sale by Flying Fish, Agent, and sold for $235,000 after breezing an eighth in :9 4/5 at the Under Tack Show. Now 11-6-1-1 for trainer Linda Rice, she has earned $356,405.


    Whispering Oaks Farm’s Good and Stout (Coal Front – Ready Witted) saved ground early in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes, split horses to take over in the stretch then held off a late run to be best by a nose. Fellow OBS Spring Sale graduate Sounds Like Power (Power Jam – Street Sounds) closed to finish third.

    It’s the first stakes win for the 2-year-old son of Coal Front, trained by Carrol Castille, now 5-2-1-1 with $101,000 in earnings. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5 and was purchased for $75,000 out of the Julie Davies consignment. 

Monday, December 11, 2023
Shaq Diesel and Bluefield Score . . .
    OLDSMAR - Neither 3-year-old colt Shaq Diesel nor 7-year-old mare Bluefield had won a stakes race entering Saturday's Florida Sire Stakes races for registered Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Both made up for that omission with whirlwind, heart-pounding finishes on a glorious late fall afternoon. Shaq Diesel, a son of Khozan out of Kleodora, by Tiznow, nipped pace-setter Dean Delivers by a nose in the Marion County Florida Sire Stakes by a nose, while Bluefield, a daughter of Field Commission out of Imtheblues, by Pentelicus, showed guts and determination to post a neck victory from Dream Concert in the City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes.

    Both winners turned in excellent times, with Shaq Diesel getting the 7-furlong distance in 1:22.24 on a fast track and Bluefield completing her journey in 1:22.47.

    Both trainer David Fawkes and jockey Joe Bravo were ecstatic after Shaq Diesel’s victory, in which he overcame trouble on the backstretch and a wide trip on the turn. Bravo said another horse came over on Shaq Diesel after the break, but the colt was able to recover without losing much momentum. “He was in such control that I was able to pick him right back up and take him outside, but then we lost a lot of ground on the turn,” Bravo said. “But a horse this big with such a beautiful stride. … David gave me a lot of pony to play with today. He had him ready to run.”

    This was only the second race for Shaq Diesel under Fawkes, and the conditioner had a good feeling coming in after a strong second-place finish on Oct. 21 at Gulfstream in an allowance/optional claiming event. Still, Fawkes believed Dean Delivers was the class of the field, and he was visibly impressed with his horse’s closing kick.

    “I didn’t think we’d get there, to be honest with you,” Fawkes said. “For a second, I had to go back and watch the replay to be sure. Her got bothered on the backside and on the turn he was so wide, but thank God he was able to get up on the crown of the track and finish strong.”

    Fawkes acknowledged that Shaq Diesel – who is owned in partnership by Chester A. Bishop, Anthony Hinkson, Alvin Rampaul, Patrick Biggs and Donovan Stanford – benefited from lightning-fast fractions of 21.65 and 43.79 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and half set by Dean Delivers and Zydeceaux.

    Shaq Diesel is 4-for-12 lifetime, with the winner’s share of $60,000 raising his earnings to $151,130. He paid $11.20 to win as the third betting choice in the seven-horse field of colts and geldings 3-years-old-and-upward. Big Martini finished third.

    Bluefield, bred in partnership by Ed Pendray and Edward A. Seltzer and owned by Seltzer, won for the eighth time in 20 tries, but in a way her victory against six fillies and mares seemed more improbable than Shaq Diesel’s. That’s because Dream Concert appeared to be running so easily after taking the lead from Delta Charm approaching the far turn.

    Leading Oldsmar jockey Samy Camacho, on Bluefield, knew his task was difficult, but he gained confidence when he was able to angle inside the tiring Delta Charm and take dead aim on the leader.

    “When I hit the 3/16-mile marker and hit her on the left side, she gave me a lot of kick and I said ‘I can get it,’ ” Camacho said. “I’m real happy because I told my valet and my agent I wanted to ride this horse. All the credit goes to Bluefield and (trainer) Saffie Joseph.”

    Watching the race from Gulfstream Park in south Florida, Joseph had a helpless feeling as Dream Concert controlled the race on the lead. Then, he watched Bluefield display the kind of heart that keeps all Thoroughbred people coming back.

    “At the top of the stretch I thought she had a chance, but then (Dream Concert) kicked clear and I thought, ‘second place again,’ ” Joseph said. “Samy did a great job getting the rail when it presented itself, and I think that might have been the difference between winning and losing.

    “This mare keeps getting better with age. She is in the best form of her life, and we’re going to continue to race her,” Joseph said.

    Bluefield paid $5.80 as the wagering favorite. The $60,000 winner’s share boosted her career earnings to $323,000. Atomically finished third in the seven-horse field.






Sunday, December 10, 2023
Defeats Reminder by a neck . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH -Repole Stable’s Grade 2-placed Noted, back on turf following a disappointing effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, found running room late and held off fast-closing longshot Reminder to win Saturday’s $100,000 Pulpit by a neck at Gulfstream Park.

    The 10th running of the 7 ½-furlong Pulpit for 2-year-olds anchored an 11-race program as co-headliner with the $100,000 Wait a While for 2-year-old fillies – the first two stakes on Gulfstream’s brand-new turf course.

    Noted ($4.40), beaten a nose in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon on Oct. 8 at Keeneland in his last try on grass, gave jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. a sweep of Saturday’s stakes following Ozara’s victory in the Wait a While. It was the second straight Pulpit win for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and third overall after Ari Gold (2022) and Tapwrit (2016).

    “He had to work out a trip. I was a little worried at the eighth pole. It still looked like he was looking for room but once he got a seam to run at,he quickened nicely,” Pletcher said. “The only thing we wanted to be mindful of is it was 7 ½ [furlongs] and we didn’t want to leave him with too much to do.”

    Prevent, breaking from the rail, was pressed on the lead by fellow longshot Tocayo through a quarter-mile in :22.90 seconds and a half in :45.91. Ortiz settled Noted in seventh along the rail, and still found himself blocked behind horses after six furlongs went in 1:09.36.

   “It felt like they were running,” Ortiz said. “I had to try to stay close. I had good position. At the three-eighths to the quarter pole, I waited a little longer. But when I came out of there and asked my horse to go, he responded very well. He was ready.”

    Ortiz tipped outside once straightened for home and then had to swing around Palm Tree inside the eighth pole to find a seam, then closed stoutly down the center of the track as Reminder, racing for the first time on turf after a win and four thirds on Gulfstream’s all-weather Tapeta course, made his bid on the far outside.

    Noted completed the distance in 1:27.30 over the firm course and now has two wins and two seconds in five tries on the grass. Reminder was a head in front of Palm Tree in third, with another half-length back to General Ledger in fourth.

    In his other two races Noted, by 2014 Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince, won the Aug. 26 Sapling at Monmouth Park over Dornoch, a full brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mage who won the Remsen last out, and was last of nine in the Juvenile behind Pletcher-trained stablemate Fierceness.

    “I was a little concerned with the 7 ½ but he seemed to come out of the Breeders’ Cup well, he carries good condition and he’s an easy horse to train so I felt like he was ready to run back,” Pletcher said.

   “We’re not going to rule [dirt] out. If he trains really well we might give him another shot at some stage,” he added. “He’s got that win in the Sapling that looks good on paper, but in the Breeders’ Cup he didn’t fire.”

    The Pulpit is named for Claiborne Farm’s late Gulfstream-based homebred who won four of six starts in his only season of 1997, including Gr. II victories in the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass while also running second in the Florida Derby and fourth in the Kentucky Derby, Florida Derby winner Ice Box, 2007 Met Mile winner Corinthian and 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit, now one of racing’s most influential sires. 

Saturday, December 9, 2023
Partners with Hard Rock . . .

    Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Inc. is excited OcalaBetS was chosen to be a marketing partner of the Seminole Tribe of Florida for the rollout of the Hard Rock Bet online sports wagering platform in Florida. Hard Rock Bet provides an opportunity for people physically present in Florida to confidently and safely wager on sporting events with a proven trusted international brand that has a longstanding Florida presence.
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Two stakes Saturday worth $100,000 each at Tampa . . .
    OLDSMAR - Florida-bred stakes performers will be spotlighted Saturday, with a pair of $100,000 races for horses 3-years-old-and-upward at the demanding distance of 7 furlongs on the main track on tap.

    The seventh running of the Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for colts and geldings and the seventh annual City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for fillies and mares are part of a 10-race program that begins at 12:16 p.m. Both stakes are for horses that have paid all Florida Sire Stakes eligibility fees.

    The connections of the two winners will collect $60,000.


    The Marion County has attracted a field of seven males, with 3-year-old gelding Zydeceaux and 5-year-old gelding Willy Boi looming as standouts. Zydeceaux, who is trained by Carlos Narvaez and will be ridden by Samuel Marin, won the open Pasco Stakes and the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this year, both at the 7-furlong distance.

    Willy Boi, who is trained by Melanie Giddings and will be ridden by leading Oldsmar jockey Samy Camacho, is also a multiple stakes winner, his resume including the Gr. III Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream as a 4-year-old.

    The City of Ocala, which has also drawn seven horses, is the seventh race. The headliners, at least on paper, are 3-year-old Charlie’s Wish, who won the Azalea Stakes in July at Gulfstream, and 3-year-old Atomically, a stakes-winning and graded-stakes placed lass who competed in last year’s NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

    Charlie’s Wish is trained by David Fawkes and will be ridden by Joe Bravo, while Atomically is trained by Jose Pinchin and will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.

    Saturday’s fourth race will feature the return to Tampa Bay Downs of 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Dreaming of Snow, who won the Suncoast Stakes here in February at odds of 38-1 while defeating 2022 Eclipse Award winnin 2-Year-Old Filly Wonder Wheel.

    Dreaming of Snow will face five rivals in the fourth race, a 7-furlong allowance/optional claiming event on the main track. She is trained by Gerald Bennett and will be ridden by Camacho.

Around the oval - Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode three winners yesterday, including both halves of the early daily double. He won the first race on My First Date, a 3-year-old filly owned by Michael B. Catalano, Duke Perry Stable and Jeffrey Lambert and trained by Robert B. Hess Jr. Camacho added the second with Countess Dreams, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Versatile Thoroughbreds and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

    Camacho added his third victory in the eighth race, triumphing aboard 4-year-old filly Li’l Miss Camille for owners Winning Stables and Averill Racing and trainer Gerald Bennett. Li’l Miss Camille was claimed from the race for $10,000 by new owner-trainer Juan Arriagada.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023
He has career earnings of more than $303 million . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Enjoying one of the best seasons of his highly decorated career, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has made his way back to South Florida with the mission of ending the year as strongly as it began.

    Ortiz, 31, returns to Gulfstream Park starting Thursday to begin his riding title defense at the 2023-2024 Championship Meet, the nation’s premiere winter racing destination that began its 85-day run Dec. 1.

    A total of 68 stakes worth $14.875 million in purses will be offered led by the $4.5 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational series Jan. 27 and the $1 million Florida Derby March 30. The Championship Meet concludes March 31.

    Ortiz will be busy in his first weekend back. He is named in seven of 10 races Thursday and Friday and nine of 11 races Saturday including Ozara for trainer Christophe Clement in the $100,000 Wait a While and Noted for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher in the $100,000 Pulpit.

    In all, Ortiz is named on 25 horses over his first three days for 17 trainers, among them Mike Maker, Eddie Plesa Jr., Carlos David, Riley Mott, Jose D’Angelo, Joe Orseno, Chad Brown and Jane Cibelli.

    “It’s great to be back. They support me a lot. I love the people. They treat me really, really good and that makes it special,” Ortiz said. “They make me feel like home. I have some trainers I ride for that are waiting for me there and that keeps me hungry. It’s exciting.”

    Ortiz arrives at Gulfstream after earning his fifth Bill Shoemaker Award as top jockey at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, raising his career total to 20 wins following victories in the $6 million Classic aboard White Abarrio, $2 million Sprint on Elite Power and $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint with Goodnight Olive. All three horses will be in the mix for Eclipse Awards as divisional champions.

    For his part, Ortiz is likely headed to a fifth Eclipse Award as champion jockey following wins in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022. According to Equibase statistics, he is approaching his career-high of 346 wins set in 2018 and has already broken his own single-season North American record for purse earnings with $37,791,462. Ortiz banked the previous mark of $37,640,792 in 2022.


    Ortiz has won 337 races – that and his earnings easily tops in North America – with 65 stakes wins, 40 in graded company. For his career, he has 3,715 wins, 596 in stakes, 304 of them graded, and more than $303.5 million in purse earnings.

    “You start good [at Gulfstream] and it’s great because you start the year off on the right foot,” Ortiz said. “It’s very competitive. You have the best jockeys in the wintertime going there. It’s not easy. It’s been working out good, to be honest.”

    Represented by agent Steve Rushing, Ortiz returned to the top of the Championship Meet standings last winter with 128 wins, after having his three-year win streak snapped by Luis Saez in 2021-2022. Ortiz also had a meet-high $7.5 million in purse earnings, setting the stage for what has been a memorable 2023 campaign.

    Ortiz won 14 stakes during the 2022-2023 meet, 10 of them graded, led by 2022 2-year-old champion Forte in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby and Atone in the $1 million Pegasus Turf. Ortiz also won the Florida Derby in 2021, the $3 million Pegasus World Cup in 2020 and 2022 and has won four of the five runnings of the Pegasus Turf, including three in a row.

    Other graded triumphs came in the Harlan’s Holiday, Pan American, W. L. McKnight, La Prevoyante, Kitten’s Joy, Sweetest Chant and Royal Delta. On Feb. 3 he rode seven winners on the card, tying Jerry Bailey, Tyler Gaffalione, Luis Saez and Paco Lopez for the track record while becoming the first to win seven in a row.

    Since his first full winter of 2017-2018, Ortiz has won 699 races at Gulfstream, an average of 116.5 per season. He has led the standings four times, winning a track-record 140 races in 2020-2021, and has been first in purse earnings five consecutive years including 2021-2022, when he rode just 279 races and finished with 80 wins and $5.05 million.

    Nationally, Ortiz has been in the top five in wins and purse earnings every year since 2014 and has won 300 or more races each season since 2015. Also first in purses from 2018-20 and 2022, he is on the way to having the most wins for a seventh straight year.

    “Believe me, we work so hard and we try to not look back. We just try to do the best we can for the whole year. By this time of year you realize how you’re doing, after all the big races and everything, and we are having a good year,” Ortiz said. “We are very grateful. We thank God for every opportunity they give us to live these moments. We feel blessed to be in this position. We love this game. We love riding and we have to thank the horses because they run for us. They make the sport special.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Best of the best return to Hallandale Beach . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame and champion jockey John Velazquez says he’s returning to his “second home.”

    Velazquez, who spent the past two winters riding primarily in California, will return to South Florida to ride at Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet and join one of the world’s most competitive and talented riding colonies.

    The Championship Meet, which begins Friday, will not only be playing host to Velazquez but Irad Ortiz Jr., leading jockey at the Championship Meet four of the past five years, five-time leading rider Javier Castellano, three-time leading rider Luis Saez, Tyler Gaffalione, Paco Lopez and several newcomers, including Sean Levey and Oisin Murphy from Europe, Vincent Cheminaud and Chris Emigh. Popular Joe Bravo is also returning after spending several of the past winters in California.

    Velazquez, leading rider during the Championship Meet twice, says returning to South Florida is also a return to a “normal routine.”

    “California, obviously, was a different opportunity,” Velazquez said. “The experience was something different. I enjoyed it a lot. I was given a lot of opportunity because guys from the east who go west don’t always get the opportunities I did. It was a good experience, and the people were very good to me, but Gulfstream is my second home after New York.”

    Velazquez will begin riding the weekend of Dec. 8. Defending riding champ Irad Ortiz Jr. will begin riding Dec. 6. Jose Ortiz, who will be honored with a bobblehead in his likeness during the Championship Meet, will begin riding Friday. Sean Levey arrives from the United Kingdom and will ride December through February.

    Levey was born in Swaziland, moved to Ireland as a teenager, and apprenticed for approximately six years at Aidan O’Brien’s before going to England in 2011. He won his first Group 1 in the 2018 1000 Guineas at Newmarket aboard Billesdon Brook. Levey won two more Group 1 events in 2019 aboard Billesdon Brook in the Sun Chariot Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on King of Change. In 2022 he won his first Group 1 in France with Aristria in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville.

    Murphy, a three-time champion in the United Kingdom, is scheduled to ride from late December through January.

    Cheminaud first came to the U.S. in 2015 to ride Flintshire, whom he guided to victory in the Gr. I Sword Dancer at Saratoga. He returned in 2018 to ride Victorine, who finished fourth in the Gr. II Sands Point at Belmont. The 29-year-old French Derby-winning jockey ventured to Kentucky to ride full time in 2021, winning 41 races. He has won 29 races from 206 mounts this year.

    “I ride a lot for Christophe Clement and Shug McGaughey, so I decided to come here,” Cheminaud
said.

    Emigh is well known in the Midwest, where he’s ridden the past year in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana and has won riding titles at Arlington, Hawthorne and Delta Downs. 
Riding the Championship Meet has “been on my bucket list for a while but I never got the chance,” the winner of nearly 4,400 races, said.
Monday, November 27, 2023
It will be introduced Friday . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - The new turf course at Gulfstream Park received rave reviews from jockeys Edgard Zayas and Luca Panici after riding a pair of Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained horses in company for a half-mile this morning.

    “It feels great. It’s beautiful,” said Zayas, who captured the riding title during the Sunshine Meet that concluded Saturday. “I can’t wait to ride on it Friday.”

    The 2023-2024 Championship Meet gets underway on Friday while offering the first turf races at Gulfstream since the renovation of the grass course began in May.

    Zayas was aboard Sunshine Frolic, a 3-year-old son of California Chrome who worked inside General Ledger, a 2-year-old son of Summer Front ridden by Panici.

    “Right now, the turf isn’t dry. It’s nice and moist. They got over it great,” Zayas said. “I can’t wait. I love turf racing. It’s my favorite. I’m really excited about the new turf and I’m excited turf racing’s back.”

    Sunshine Frolic, who broke his maiden on Tapeta in his second career start, and General Ledger, who won his debut impressively on dirt, ran as a team from the half-mile pole to the finish line before galloping out with energy. Both horses were timed in :48.14 seconds. 

    “It’s nice, very consistent. They got over it nice.,” Panici said. “It’s not hard. It’s looking good.”

    Joseph used the opportunity to participate in the first workouts on the new turf course to introduce Sunshine Frolic and General Ledger to grass. “Both of them have never run on it. Both of them most likely want to run on the grass, most likely,” Joseph said. “One has won on the Tapeta and the other is bred for all grass.” Joseph was visually taken by the pristine surface. “It’s a beautiful piece of ground,” he said.

    Two races on turf have been carded for Friday’s opening-day program, including a $72,000 optional claiming allowance, a five-furlong sprint featuring the return of Yes I Am Free, who has won the last two runnings of the Gr. III Gulfstream Turf Sprint. Multiple graded stakes-placed Bad Beat Brian is slated to make his local debut for owner/trainer Brittany Vanden Berg in the Race 9 feature.

Sunday, November 26, 2023
Both wind up with 33 winners . . .


                 
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Saffie Joseph Jr. and Victor Barboza Jr. finished in a dead-heat for the training title for the Sunshine Meet that came to a close Saturday at Gulfstream Park with 33 winners each.

    Joseph saddled Mojave Desert ($9.20) for a victory in Race 1 to pull even with Barboza, who entered Saturday’s card with a 32-31 edge. Barboza countered in Race 2 with Grand Daniel ($7). Joseph came back to tie it up in Race 6 with Breezero ($2.60).

    Joseph has won eight consecutive training titles at Gulfstream Park, including the last two Championship Meet crowns. Jose D’Angelo, who had been in the thick of a three-way battle for the training title, finished third with 30 winners.

    Unlike Joseph and Barboza, Edgard Zayas held a commanding lead among the riders throughout the meet that started Sept. 9. The 30-year-old Puerto Rico native, who rides first-call for Joseph, finished with 59 wins, 21 more than runner-up Miguel Vasquez.

    “It’s been great. I’ve been getting support from all the owners and trainers,” Zayas said after riding Breezero to a six-length maiden victory in Race 6. “I’m so happy to be healthy.” He is looking forward to the Championship Meet that gets underway next Friday and runs through March 31.

    “My agent (Tito Fuentes) always told me this is the most important meet of the whole [off-season], because you’ve got to go into the Championship on a roll,” said Zayas, who rode a pair of winners on the closing day program, “This is an important meet going into the Championship Meet.”

    The 20-cent Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $125,000 Friday. The multi-race wager went unsolved Saturday for the sixth program following a $136,285 jackpot hit.

    The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, headlined by a $72,000 five-furlong optional claiming allowance over the newly renovated turf course. Laura Cazares-trained Yes I Am Free, a multiple graded-stakes winner who has dominated his competition at Gulfstream in turf sprints the past few years, returns from a three-month freshening in the deep field of 12. Championship Meet newcomer Brittany Vanden Berg is scheduled to saddle multiple graded stakes-placed Bad Beat Brian. Joseph-trained Axthelm, a graded stakes-placed son of Into Mischief, returns to Gulfstream off a third-place allowance finish at Keeneland.

    A mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool will be held on Saturday’s program.

   Leon King Stable Corp.’s Bentornato will put an undefeated record on the line next Saturday in a quest to sweep the 2023 Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The Jose D’Angelo-trained son of Valiant Minister breezed five furlongs in 1:04.80 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training center in Palm Beach County.

    “Bentornato worked so good. Last week was his hard workout. This week, he went good. He started slow and finished the way I wanted,” D’Angelo said. “He’s ready to go.” Bentornato has three stakes victories on his unblemished four-race resume, including commanding triumphs in the $100,000 Dr. Fager and the $200,000 Affirmed in the Florida Sire Stakes series.


 
Thursday, November 23, 2023
Gomez wins first trip over the track . . .

    OLDSMAR - Several thoughts flashed through Kevin Gomez’s mind as his mount in Wednesday’s first race, 2-year-old Florida-bred gelding Lord Knows, bred by Joe and Helen Barbazon at Pleasant Acres Stallions, powered to a 6 ½-length victory on the renowned Tampa Bay Downs turf course.

    Once the result was made official, the 29-year-old jockey wondered where this racetrack has been through his nine-year career. “It feels amazing,” Gomez said of winning the first race he ever rode at the Oldsmar oval on the Opening Day card. “You always want to start a meet on the right foot, and this will let trainers see my name and give me a chance to ride their horses.”

    A light mist fell between the third and fifth races, but the conditions did nothing to lessen the quality of racing nor the enjoyment of a festive holiday crowd of 2,821. The all-sources handle for the day reached $3,358,896.
    Despite finishing second at the recent Delaware Park meet with 59 winners, Gomez has been overshadowed by many of the more experienced jockeys here leading up to the 2023-2024 meet. That might not last for long.

    “I’ve been here for two weeks, and I’m really liking it,” Gomez said. “My agent, Mark Mace, kept asking me if I wanted to come here, and I got a lot of advice from other people telling me to try it. So, here I am.

    “I love the weather, of course, and the grass racing, and the friendly atmosphere. The jockeys help each other before the races, but once you break out of the gate you have no friends – you’re on your own,” Gomez said.

    Gomez earned his second victory in the sixth race, piloting 2-year-old filly Lady Prospect to a front-running 3 ¾-length victory from the late-closing Copper Bound in the 5 ½-furlong maiden event. Lady Prospect is owned by Morris E. Kernan Jr., and Jagger Inc., and trained by Jamie Ness, who won a record nine consecutive Tampa Bay Downs training titles from 2006 through 2015.

    Gomez’s fellow jockey and competitor Alonso Quinonez is delighted to return. He rides for trainer Tim Padilla, and the duo has enjoyed plenty of success in recent summers at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, where Quinonez tied for fifth in the jockey standings and Padilla took sixth among trainers.


    They teamed to win the second and third races with a pair of 3-year-old Florida-breds. Their filly Miss Mac Mac, bred and owned by Peter D. Mattson, improved to 3-for-7 with a 6-furlong tally in the second race, followed by their gelding Summer All Year’s triumph going a mile-and-40 yards. Summer All Year was bred and is owned in partnership by Mattson and Padilla.

    “I just want to say thank you to the connections, Tim Padilla and Peter Mattson,” said Quinonez, a heady veteran whose 11 career graded stakes victories include five Gr. I's. “Tim has been doing this for a long time, and he knows how to get his horses ready and put them in the right races.”

    Win or lose, Quinonez enjoys returning to the Tampa Bay area, an emotion of course heightened in proportion to his trips to the winner’s circle.

    “I love the weather here. I love the people,” Quinonez said. “It’s a good environment for racing.”

    Samy Camacho, who is bidding this season to win a fourth consecutive Oldsmar jockeys' title and fifth overall, was the third jockey to ride two winners. Camacho scored in the fourth race on Vegas Playboy, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Monmouth Stud and Pinnacle Racing Team and trained by Gregg Sacco. Camacho added the seventh on the turf on Never So Lucky, a 3-year-old filly owned by Monster Racing Stables and trained by Jose H. Delgado.

    In the featured eighth race, a $53,000, 6-furlong allowance/optional claiming race for horses 3-years-old-and-upward, 6-year-old Florida-bred Feast responded to strong urging from jockey Jose Ferrer, pulling away late for a 6 ¼-length victory from 66-1 shot Big Louie. Bring Theband Home was third.

    Feast is owned by Winning Stables and Averill Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett, the track’s reigning training champ and owner of Winning Stables. A stakes-winner who is now 8-for-25, Feast was gelded over the summer, then turned out for some “R & R” at Martin Goodell’s Swanzey Stables South in Ocala. The surgery and the rest, followed by two super-sharp workouts on the Oldsmar oval surface, had him about at his peak, as he raced the distance in 1:09.49, .82 seconds off the track record.

    Bennett has won the last eight Oldsmar training titles.

    Around the oval - Tampa Bay Downs is closed today to enable track employees, horsemen and jockeys to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. The co-features are the fourth and seventh races, both $54,000 allowance/optional claiming races on the turf.

    The fourth race, for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward at a distance of a mile, has drawn 11 entrants, while the seventh, for horses 3-and-upward sprinting 5 furlongs, has attracted 14. Both races are restricted to 10 runners.


Monday, November 20, 2023
Nyquist colt best by 8 3/4 lengths . . .

    Baoma Corp.’s Nysos (Nyquist – Netta Z) is two for two and a graded stakes-winner after an effortless romp in the $100,000, Gr. III Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday.

    Last of four in the early going, the 2-year-old colt by Nyquist came around his rivals on the turn, took over in the stretch, and drew away to score by 8 3/4 lengths, running seven furlongs in a rapid 1:21 3/5. After taking both starts for trainer Bob Baffert by a combined 19 1/4 lengths, he has earned $96,600. Consigned by Best A Luck Farm to the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, he was sold for $550,000 to Donato Lanni, Agent for Baoma Corp. after turning in an eighth in :9 4/5 at the Under Tack Show.  

    Georgia Antley Hunt, Jeff Giglio and John L. Rogitz’s Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon – Miss Derek) saved ground off the pace in Saturday’s $100,000 Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar, came off the rail in the drive and caught OBS March graduate Tambo (Enticed – Flatter Me First) late to win by a nose.

    It’s the second straight win and first stakes victory for the 2-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, trained by Bob Baffert, now 5-2-1-0 with earnings of $117,160. At the 2023 OBS Spring Sale, she breezed an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat and was purchased out of the Wildheart Thoroughbreds consignment for $190,000.  

OBS grads scored a pair of stakes wins on Saturday.

    Colts Neck Stables' Nothing Better (Munnings – One True Love (IRE)) successfully defended his title in the $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship Stakes, taking the lead at the start and never looking back en route to a 1-1 3/4-length victory. 

    That’s three stakes wins for the 6-year-old son of Munnings, trained by Jorge Duarte Jr., now 25-9-5-3 with $566,217 in earnings. After breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5, he was purchased for $230,000 out of the Brick City Thoroughbreds consignment at the 2019 OBS Spring Sale.   

    Mark H. Stanley’s Tricky Temper (Into Mischief – Winter Book) tracked the pace from the start of the $100,000 Key Cents Stakes, wore down the leader to take the lead a sixteenth out and was best by a neck at the wire. It’s the first stakes win for the 2-year-old filly by Into Mischief, purchased for $230,000 out of the Sequel Bloodstock consignment at the 2012 OBS Spring Sale after working an Under Tack eighth in :10 1/5. She's now 5-2-1-0 for trainer Jeremiah C. Englehart. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023
Son of Valiant Minister is unbeaten in 4 races . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Undefeated Bentornato breezed six furlongs in 1:13.45 at Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for a bid to sweep the 2023 Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park in the $300,000 In Reality on Dec. 2.

    “He breezed so, so good,” trainer Jose D’Angelo said following the workout at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

    The 1 1/16-mile In Reality, the finale of the series for 2-year-olds sired by stallions standing in Florida, will be the son of Valiant Minister’s first race around two turns.

     “We’ve been working very hard at stretching him out, and he’s responded very well,” D’Angelo said. “The way we are galloping him every morning is for this kind of distance, and he has responded. I think he’s ready to run the distance.”

    Leon King Stable Corp.’s Bentornato has three stakes victories on his unblemished four-race resume. After rallying for a narrow debut victory at five furlongs on July 1, the son of Valiant Minister overcame early bumping to register an eye-catching 4 ¼-length front-running score in the six-furlong Proud Man on Aug. 12. He came right back with a dominating 7 ½-length front-running win in the six-furlong Dr. Fager before scoring by 2 ¾ lengths in the seven-furlong Affirmed.

    Bentornato, who has raced somewhat greenly despite winning all four races by open lengths, has impressed D’Angelo with his preparation for the In Reality.

    “For this race, he’s becoming more focused and keeping his mind on business,” D’Angelo said. “He’s acting more professional going to the track and going back to the barn.”

    At Gulfstream, Mattingly, who finished second in the Affirmed in his dirt debut, breezed five furlongs on Tapeta in 1:01.69 in preparation for the $300,000 In Reality.

    “It was a maintenance work. Everything went according to plan,” trainer Joe Orseno said. “Slow in the beginning, and then he picked it up. He galloped out strong.”



Friday, November 17, 2023
He was fifth in earnings when he retired . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame and Kentucky Derby winning jockey Bobby Ussery, ranked fifth all-time in earnings when he retired in 1974, has passed away in South Florida.

    Ussery, a native of Vian, Oklahoma, was 88.

    Ussery won the 1967 Kentucky Derby aboard 30-1 shot Proud Clarion. It was a mount he picked up after his original Derby mount, Reflected Glory, couldn’t make the race due to sore shins. He won the 1960 Preakness with Florida Derby winner Bally Ache.

    Sports Illustrated called Ussery’s ride aboard Proud Clarion “one of the best in Derby history.” Ussery thought he might have a good weekend in Louisville.

    "I might have won it with Bally Ache in 1960, but we finished second,” he said. “Then I thought I’d win it with Reflected Glory. When that didn’t work out, I still figured – just a hunch, I guess – that it was my year, no matter what horse I rode. I had a real hunch.”

    Ussery’s riding career started with a win aboard his first mount, Reticule, in the 1951 Thanksgiving Day Handicap at Fair Grounds. In 1959, he rode a record 215 winners. In 1960 he rode juvenile champion Hail to Reason and won the Preakness, Flamingo and Florida Derby Bally Ache. He also crossed the finish line first in the 1968 Derby, but his mount, Dancer’s Image,on  was later disqualified due to an overdose of bute; he was never paid for the ride, and he talked about his disappointment for many years. 

    In the 1960s, he discovered a riding 'secret' that he sprung on the racing world one day at Aqueduct. From an outside post on the backstretch, Ussery would make no effort to head for the inside, keeping his mount many paths out from the rail heading to the turn, then making a sharp left turn at the spot he had discovered; it acted like a sling and quickly shot him to the lead. It soon became known as "Ussery's Alley," and he used it to perfection, good for many visits to the winner's circle. 

    Other notable wins for Ussery came in the Whitney, Alabama, Travers, Hopeful, Mother Goose, Canadian International and Queen’s Plate, and the Wood Memorial twice.

    Arrangements are pending. Expressions of sympathy may be made in Ussery’s memory to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund at pdjf.org.