Sunday, January 02, 2011

Old Hat Kicks off Gulfstream Season Wednesday

HALLANDALE, FL - Melnyk Racing Stable’s Canadian homebred Roxy Gap won all three of her starts at Woodbine last summer by big margins for trainer Mark Casse and could rule the favorite in a field of six 3-year-old fillies entered in the $100,000 old Hat Stakes (G3) Wednesday, opening day feature of the 2011 Gulfstream Park season that runs through Apr. 24.

Jockey Julien Leparoux gets the call on Roxy Gap in her first start since romping home a 4 ¾ lengths allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles on turf last out on Aug. 21. The daughter of Indian Charlie had won her debut by 6 ½ lengths going five furlongs on July 3 and the $150,000 Shady Well Stakes by 2 ½ lengths over six furlongs on July 18, both races run over the synthetic Polytrack main track surface at Woodbine.

Owner-trainer Wesley Ward’s Final Mesa also will get plenty of support with California-based jockey Joel Rosario named to ride. The New York-bred daughter of Sky Mesa has made three of her four starts on synthetic tracks, but didn’t miss a beat when winning the $50,000 Polly Drummond Stakes on dirt at Delaware Park in May by 4 ¾ lengths.

Final Mesa won her debut at Keeneland in mid-April by 7 ½ lengths and the $150,000 My Dear Stakes at Woodbine in late June by 7 ½ lengths before suffering her lone defeat last out in the Sorrento Stakes (G3) at Del Mar on Aug. 6 when tiring to sixth behind Wickedly Perfect after dueling for the lead to mid-stretch.

“The layoff is a bit of a concern,” Ward said. “I think some of the other fillies in there might be a little more race fit. She looks fast, but she can sit off the speed.”

Trainer Tony Dutrow sends out a solid contender for the 30th edition of the Old Hat in Daniel Ryan’s Pennsylvania homebred Quantum Miss with Jeremy Rose in the saddle. The roan/gray daughter of Smoke Glacken has made three starts, finishing third in her debut at Parx Racing in September, breaking her maiden there by 5 ½ lengths in late October and winning an allowance at Penn National by 16 lengths on Nov. 26.

Another intriguing prospect in the field with more experience on synthetic surfaces than dirt is Jean and Thomas Bosch’s Florida homebred It’s Me Mom shipping in from Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Lynn Scace and regular rider Willie Martinez coming in to ride. The daughter of Put It Back made the first five starts of her career on the Tapeta synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs, winning the last three.

After drawing off to win the $100,000 Presque Isle Debutante by 6 ¾ lengths on Sept. 26, It’s Me Mom made one more start last year after shipping into Tampa Bay for the winter season. Sent off the odds-on favorite in the $75,000 Sandpiper Stakes going six furlongs on Dec. 26, she ran very well in her first try on dirt to finish second after setting the pace to the upper stretch.

Completing the field for the Old Hat are Florence Pattitucci’s Mis Vizcaya with Rajiv Maragh named to ride for trainer Juan Vasquez and Paco Lopez to ride Hardacre Farm’s Pomeroys Pistol for owner-breeder-trainer Amy Tarrant.

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