Saturday, March 31 2012

Peter Brette is Getting a Good Feeling about Union Rags

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Peter Brette is privileged to know what if feels like to sit on a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, having served as the assistant trainer and exercise rider of the Michael Matz-trained Barbaro, the 2006 winner of the Run for the Roses.

While Union Rags looks to others like a legitimate early favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby, the 46-year-old native of England has a more advantaged perspective from the back of the 6-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

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Friday, March 30 2012

Gulfstream Today: 3.29.12

Despite having run for a $20,000 claiming tag with no takers while winning her last start at Tampa Bay Downs, Midwest Thoroughbreds’ 6-year-old mare Lady of Greatness was second choice in Friday’s ninth race optional/claiming feature at Gulfstream Park and went wire-to-wire to score by 1 ¼ lengths over Wertheimer et Frere’s 9-to-10 favorite Shared Heart.

Jockey Leandro Goncalves made the trip down from Tampa Bay Downs to ride Lady of Greatness for trainer Jamie Ness and she raced to the front out of the gate in the 6 1/2 furlongs test for fillies and mares, setting a solid pace through a half-mile in 45:13, and turning back a mild challenge from Shared Heart at the top of the stretch.

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Thursday, March 29 2012

Phyllis Wyeth Feature - Dreams Really Do Come True

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Phyllis Wyeth had long-term expectations that proved to be short-lived several years ago when she turned over a newly purchased filly to trainer Michael Matz.

“I bought this one horse that I thought would be really good to add to my broodmare band. She was one of George Strawbridge’s horses that was in a sale,” Wyeth recalled during a phone conversation from her farm in Chadds Ford, PA.

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Wilkes Seeks Answers in Florida Derby with Neck ‘n Neck

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Ian Wilkes is hoping that Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park will help his late-developing colt Neck ‘n Neck take a step closer to the 2012 Triple Crown races.

Neck ‘n Neck, a dark bay colt out of Flower Alley, is coming into Saturday’s race off a troubled fourth place finish Feb. 26 behind Florida Derby favorite Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth (G2), with News Pending in second and Discreet Dancer holding on for third.

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Gulfstream Park News & Notes: 3.29.12

And Why Not Joins Stablemate Union Rags on Florida Derby Day Card

Michael Matz, who will saddle Union Rags for a start in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1), will keep busy before the key Kentucky Derby (G1) prep by saddling And Why Not in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) one race earlier on the 13-race program.

And Why Not will be making her 2012 debut in the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies against the likes of the 1-2 finishers in the Davona Dale (G2), Yara and Grace Hall, as well as Zo Impressive, a late-developing filly who has won twice at Gulfstream in impressive fashion.

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Aqsaam to Seek Cover in Orchid

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Undefeated Aqsaam pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the Gulfstream Park meeting on Jan. 29 when she captured her third straight victory without a loss.

The 4-year-old filly’s victory in the turf allowance was hardly unexpected considering her 6-5 favoritism, but it was the way she won that caught everyone off guard. After launching her very promising career with a pair of deep-closing triumphs, the daughter of Dynaformer went right to the lead in the 1 7/16-mile route. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained filly set the pace into the stretch before being headed in mid-stretch, only to fight back to win by a half-length.

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Castellano Looking Ahead to El Padrino in Florida Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Javier Castellano could not be blamed for thinking about what might have been. But Gulfstream’s leading rider – the man who set a record earlier this meet for most wins by a Gulfstream jockey and also won his 3,000 career race - prefers to look ahead, especially to his ride aboard Risen Star (G2) winner El Padrino, the 2-1 second choice in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1).

Castellano came to Florida this winter as the regular rider of Union Rags, the early 6-5 favorite for the Florida Derby, as well as the promising young colt Algorithms. After Algorithms blew away Eclipse champion Hansen Jan. 29 in the Holy Bull (G3), Castellano had to make a decision on which 3-year-old would be his preference looking ahead to the spring classics.

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Orchid, Appleton, Skip Away & Sir Shackleton Complete Florida Derby Day Stakes Line-Up

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Barbara Hunter’s highly-consistent 6-year-old Kentucky homebred mare Keertana will likely go off favored to defeat eight rival fillies and mares in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G2) on Florida Derby Day with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard for trainer Tom Proctor in the 51st edition of the 1 ½ miles turf course fixture.

A daughter of Johar, Keertana will bid to improve one position after she finished second by a length in the 11-furlong The Very One Stakes (G3) over the course on Feb. 25 when beaten a length. Keertana’s career record stands at 28-11-6-7 for earnings of $1,016, 938.

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Grace Hall Bids for Redemption in Gulfstream Park Oaks

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Michael Dubb and partners’ 3-year-old filly Grace Hall made her season debut in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25 as the 4-to-5 favorite. Despite losing a neck decision to longshot Yara, Grace Hall will very likely be favored again to avenge that defeat in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).

Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets the call on Grace Hall for trainer Anthony Dutrow. She will face seven rival 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/8 miles test expected to yield one or more contenders for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4.

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Awesome Maria Odds-On for Rampart Defense

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - E. Paul Robsham’s 5-year-old homebred mare Awesome Maria, winner of five straight graded stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher going back to early last year, will be an odds-on favorite to make it six in a row with regular rider John Velazquez aboard in a field of six fillies and mare drawn for Saturday’s $100,000 Rampart Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park, a 1 1/8 miles race she won last year by eight lengths.

A roan/gray daughter of Maria’s Mon, Awesome Maria swept to consecutive victories in the Sabin Stakes (G3) and Rampart Stakes here early in the year and then added tallies in the Shuvee Handicap (G2) in May and Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in mid-June before going to the sidelines for the second half of the campaign.

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Pletcher Keeps El Padrino at Gulfstream for Florida Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Some trainers may be discouraged by the imposing presence of Union Rags on the list of 3-year-olds ready to run in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) this Saturday. Todd Pletcher prefers to focus more on the benefits of Gulfstream Park’s signature event than the competition.

“We certainly could have gone other places where it probably would have been a little easier, but we felt it was more a case of managing our horse the way we want to as opposed to handicapping the race,” said the trainer of the 3-year-old son of Pulpit.

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Reveron Seeks Second Derby Score at Gulfstream

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Reveron isn’t one of the high profile contenders coming into the Florida Derby (G1), especially with early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Union Rags heading the field. However, it would be shortsighted to overlook him.

Reveron was allowed to go off at almost 9-1 in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, despite coming in off back-to-back wins at Calder and having not finished off the board in the first four starts of his career. He took the lead early and never relinquished it to become the nation’s first Derby winner of 2012.

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