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Saturday, December 14, 2013


Gulfstream News & Notes December 14


Harlan’s Holiday Possible for Nikki’s Sandcastle
Hy Kodiak Warrior Returns in Sunday Allowance
Wolfson Has Options in Sunday’s $100,000 South Beach


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Nikki’s Sandcastle has distinguished himself on turf at Gulfstream Park, where he won a pair of stakes during the 2012-2013 meeting. However, the 6-year-old gelding may well start next on dirt in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday on Dec. 22.

“He’ll run on anything,” trainer David Kassen said, “and the timing is good for what I want to do with him.”

Last season, Nikki’s Sandcastle captured the $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald and the $75,000 El Prado Stakes over the Gulfstream turf course.

Nikki’s Sandcastle’s name is on the list of 24 horses nominated for the third running of the Harlan’s Holiday, a 1 1/16-mile takes for 3-year-olds and up. Should Kassen decide to bypass the Harlan’s Holiday, the Kentucky-bred gelding would likely try to defend his title in the El Prado, a mile turf stakes that will be run for $100,000 on Dec. 28.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, who broke his maiden on dirt, was scheduled to breeze over the Gulfstream main track Saturday morning, but the work was postponed due to an off track.

The son of Castledale is coming off a fast-closing victory in the $200,000 Fayette (G2) over Keeneland’s synthetic racing surface on Oct. 26.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, whose full brother, Where’s The Baby, has won at Gulfstream on both dirt and turf, has recovered from a recent setback.

“He had a foot bruise after he got here, but he’s fine now,” Kassen said.

Nikki’s Sandcastle has won nine of 35 starts and more than $500,000 in purses.


Hy Kodiak Warrior Returns in Sunday Allowance

Disqualified from a winning effort last time out, Hy Kodiak Warrior will seek to make amends at Gulfstream Park in Sunday’s sixth race, a mile optional claiming allowance.

The promising 2-year-old son of Kodiak Kowboy closed from 10th to score by three-quarters of a length. Unfortunately, for Mar Racing Stable and trainer Augustin Bezara, Hy Kodiak Warrior ducked in on eventual second-place finisher East Hall in the stretch and was disqualified and placed behind the runner-up.

The Kentucky-bred colt will return to action in Sunday’s mile event with blinkers for the first time.

“We were unlucky in that race,” Bezara said. “The blinkers are something we have implemented for this race.”

Luis Saez will be aboard the chestnut colt for the first time.

Hy Kodiak Warrior had broken his maiden impressively two starts back. The $72,000 yearling purchase swept to a 7 ¼-length triumph at seven furlongs.

Bezara reported that Reveron, who returned from a 19-month layoff to finish off-the-board in an allowance race, is being pointed to the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday.

The 4-year-old son of Songandaprayer was a prominent prospect on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2012, having won the inaugural running of the Gulfstream Park Derby and finishing second behind Take Charge Indy in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1).

“He came out of his race really good,” said Bezara, whose plan to breeze Reveron Saturday was nixed by an off track. “He’s training great.”

Other prominent nominees for the Harlan’s Holiday include Neck ‘N Neck, Mordi’s Miracle, Bourban Courage, Rogue Romance, Romansh, Where’s Sterling, Valid and Fast Falcon.


Wolfson Has Options in Sunday’s $100,000 South Beach

When there’s a stakes race run for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park, it’s a safe bet that trainer Marty Wolfson will be represented. The veteran trainer entered two for Sunday’s $100,000 South Beach, a 7 ½-furlong turf stakes.

“I might run one or both,” said Wolfson, who entered Ann of the Dance and Sure Route.

Ann of the Dance has been winless in three starts since joining Wolfson’s stable, but her one start over the Gulfstream Park turf course two starts back was clearly her best. The 4-year-old daughter of English Channel closed from last in a nine-horse field to finish second behind multiple-stakes winner Angelica Zapata in the $100,000 Wasted Tears Stakes on Aug. 31.

“She’s a filly that needs to have a fast pace,” Wolfson said.

Ann of the Dance came back to finish ninth in a minor stakes last time out, but not without an excuse.

“She got in trouble on the first turn and got steadied badly. She almost went to her nose,” Wolfson said.

Sure Route, claimed for $100,000 at Saratoga in July, finished second for Wolfson in that race.

Sure Route hasn’t won in four starts for Wolfson, whose success with fillies has been phenomenal in recent years. The 5-year-old daughter of Ishiguru ran twice on dirt before being switched to turf two starts back.

“I’m not sure which she likes better,” Wolfson said. “I do know that she’s a very nice horse for the summer. For the winter? I don’t know yet.”

Mark Hennig-trained Baffle Me, coming off a pair of stakes victories at Belmont Park, has been rated as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the South Beach. Todd Pletcher-trained Ana Luisa, a Group 2 stakes winner in Brazil, is rated second at 4-1 for her U.S. debut.

“These turf races for fillies are so tough,” Wolfson lamented.



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