Friday, January 14, 2011

Gulfstream Notes: Presious Passion, Soldat, D’wild Ride & Fly Down

Presious Passion May Stay Close to Home

Trainer Mary Hartmann’s first preference for Presious Passion’s next start is an allowance race scheduled for Jan 22 – although there is a possibility that the 8-year-old gelding could ship to California to compete in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.

“It’ll be a prep race for probably the Mac Diarmida (G2) here in February (19),” Hartmann said Thursday morning of the 1-1/8-mile allowance race on turf. ”He loves the turf here. I worked him on it and he worked like the champ that he is. We’ll put him in the allowance race and hope it goes. If that doesn’t go, we’ll go to California for the Sunshine Millions.

Presious Passion, who captured last year’s Mac Diarmida in his usual front-running style, has also shown a fondness for the Santa Anita turf course, over which he captured the 2009 Clement Hirsch (G1) and ran brilliantly to finish second in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf, in which he was beaten by just a half-length by champion Conduit.

“The only way I could have been more pleased is if he won,” said Hartmann of the Patricia Generazio-owned gelding’s valiant Breeders’ Cup effort. “He battled gamely down the stretch. The other horse had a perfect trip, but that’s racing.”

After a banner year in 2009, the son of Royal Anthem went winless in five starts following his Mac Diarmida victory last year, including a disappointing performance in the Sheema Classic in Dubai in his second start. He concluded his 2010 season with a fourth-place finish in the off-the-turf McKnight Handicap at Calder on Dec. 18.

“The last time was tough. It was in the mud, a come-from-behind mud. I couldn’t get a read on it. He ran pretty evenly on it,” Hartmann said. “He’s been training well. We breezed him on the turf last weekend and went a mile in 1:43. He’s training well, feeling well; we’re looking for a good effort.”

Presious Passion has won 14 races from 48 starts while earning more than $2.6 million in purses.

“It’s been a super adventure. I mean, if it ends tomorrow, it’s fine. We’ve done everything; we’ve been everywhere; it’s been a great ride,” Hartmann said.

Soldat May Have a Future on Dirt

Soldat, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) runner-up, was nominated for Sunday’s $100,000 Dania Beach, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin opted not to enter the son of War Front in the one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

“He’s doing well. There’s some thought of running him on the dirt. He ran well on the dirt twice, so we’re flirting with that, but we haven’t made a firm decision yet,” said McLaughlin with an obvious eye on the spring classics.

Soldat debuted on a muddy Belmont track last June, when he finished second, more than 10 lengths ahead of eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Pluck, after prompting the early pace. The Kentucky-bred colt returned at Saratoga in July, finishing a clear second after racing wide over the “good” track.

Soldat graduated in his third start while stretching out around two turns and trying turf for the first time, capturing the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) by three lengths. He finished the year with second-place finishes in the Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.

“He might be all right on dirt,” McLaughlin said. “He finished second twice before he went to turf. We’ll find out.”

D’wild Ride Earned Her Way Back into Sugar Swirl

D’wild Ride finished an uncharacteristic sixth in last year’s Sugar Swirl (G3) over a sloppy Gulfstream Park oval, but trainer Joe Orseno believes the 6-year-old mare with more than a half-million in career winnings has earned another shot at the $100,000 six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

“She’s doing great. She’s been so honest for us, we felt she deserved a shot with graded company and let her step up to the plate,” Orseno said. “She takes her race out there every time. We’ve never been disappointed with her. We found out that an off track is not her best track, but other than that she tries every time. It’s a graded stake, and we have to give her a chance.”

D’wild Ride, who has won 11 of 31 starts and has finished first or second 17 times, won two of her last three starts, including a $110,000 allowance and a $75,000 stakes at Parx Racing.

“This year, she’s holding her weight really well. She’s actually filled out over the year with age,” Orseno said. “She’s not really a nervous type filly, but she seems to have really settled in. We hope to have a good year with her and start the year off right.”

Fly Down Tops Palm Meadows work Tab Thursday Morning

While both Blame and Zenyatta, one-two in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, are retired as their connections look ahead to the Horse of the Year vote to be announced Monday evening, Mitaab bin Abdullah’s 4-year-old Fly Down, third in the Classic, continues to work toward his 2011 campaign for trainer Nick Zito.

Fly Down breezed a half-mile in 48 3/5 Thursday morning at Palm Meadows, his third recorded workout there since arriving for the winter season. The son of Mineshaft won his only start at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21, capturing an ‘a other than’ allowance by a head over First Dude, and went on to finish second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) during a strong, but somewhat frustrating season.

Fly Down raced for owner Richard Pell through the Travers and was sold privately to his current owner before finishing third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Zito has indicated the first goal of the season for Fly Down is the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on Sat., Feb. 5.

Fly Down was among several 3-year-old division leaders developed last year by Zito along with Robert LaPenta’s Ice Box, winner of the Florida Derby (G1), and LaPenta’s Jackson Bend, third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico. Leading the stable’s top prospects for the classics this season appears to be Dialed In.

Dialed In also is by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft and won his only start at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12, rallying from last of 12 to win by a half-length going 6 ½ furlongs in a very impressive effort. Dialed In registered the ‘bullet’ for five furlongs Thursday morning at Palm Meadows in 1:00 3/5 as he prepares for his second start expected to come in an allowance race here soon.

Prominent on the Gulfstream work tab Thursday morning were a pair of stakes runners trained by Rick Dutrow. Jay Em Ess Stable and partners’ 3-year-old Boys At Tosconova, runner-up to Uncle Mo last out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5.

IEAH Stables and partners’ 4-year-old filly Amen Hallelujah was timed six furlongs 1:14 3/5 as she prepares for her first start since finishing second in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 5. The daughter of Montbrook made two starts here last year, winning the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) by 6 ¼ lengths and finishing second to Devil May Care in the Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2).

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