Friday, March 06 2009
Al Khali Joins Pletcher’s Potential Derby Team
WinStar Farm’s 3-year-old Al Khali rallied through the stretch for a three-quarter length victory under John Velazquez in a 1 1/8 mile allowance test Friday afternoon at Gulfstream Park, moving him up in trainer Todd Pletcher’s arsenal of Kentucky Derby (G1) candidates.
Al Khali is a Kentucky-bred colt by Medaglia d’Oro who was making his first U.S. start. He was originally sold to Dante Zanelli for $15,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales. He had made his previous three starts under three separate trainers while racing in Peru, where he won his most recent two races after finishing second in his debut.
Barn Notes 2-6
Sky Diva Works Toward 3-year-old Debut at Gulfstream
A diva’s got to have her space. That’s the reason Puglisi Racing’s Grade 1-winning 3-year-old filly Sky Diva is warming up in South Florida and is not part of trainer Steve Klesaris’s main string in New Orleans this winter.
The daughter of Sky Mesa has been training steadily at Gulfstream Park, including a five-furlong breeze Friday morning in 1:01 1/5. She has been ramping up toward a 3-year-old debut following third-place finishes in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 29 and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.
Thursday, March 05 2009
Second Half of Gilchrist’s 1,2 Punch Runs in Sunday’s Ocala Stakes
Northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist, in South Florida for the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old sales earlier this week, brought along two stakes stars to run in stakes this weekend at Gulfstream Park.
Gilchrist sends out Estate of Harry Aleo’s 5-year-old mare Wild Promises as the likely favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Honey Fox Stakes and her 6-year-old stablemate Victorina in Sunday’s $75,000 Ocala Stakes. The latter could rule the choice in a field of 11 Florida-bred fillies and mares going one mile.
GP Barn Notes 3-5
Jerkens Poses ‘Formidable’ Challenge to Gulfstream Park Handicap
With a challenger threatening to match one of his own training feats, Hall of Fame horseman Allen Jerkens will send Robert Clay’s 4-year-old emerging star Formidable into the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on Sat. Mar. 14.
A son of Sky Mesa, Formidable will face several graded-stakes performers, including Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, winner of the 2008 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The Nick Zito-trained Cool Coal Man bids to become only the second horse to win the Fountain of Youth and Gulfstream Park Handicap. The other was Sensitive Prince – trained by Jerkens – in 1978-79.
Barbaro’s Brother Nicanor Set for Round Two
Barbaro’s baby brother Nicanor, recovered from minor injuries suffered in his first career start, takes his second try at finding the winner’s circle Saturday when he tackles a field of nine other 3-year-olds.
Nicanor’s race, the Malibu Rum Finish Line, is the eighth on a card of 11 races, highlighted by the $100,000 Honey Fox and the $75,000 Sunshine State. The Malibu Rum carries a $40,000 purse and will be contested at seven furlongs.
Wednesday, March 04 2009
Florida Derby Prospects Likely to Emerge from Friday Feature
Lori and George Hall’s Atomic Rain and Jayeff B Stable’s Chef are prominent in a field of eight 3-year-olds entered in Friday’s 1 1/8 miles allowance feature at Gulfstream Park, a race almost certain to yield a contender or two for the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) to be run over the track and distance on Sat., Mar. 28.
Jockey Joe Bravo rides Atomic Rain for trainer Kelly Breen as he bids to bounce back from a dull seventh-place finish as one of the favorites in the Sam Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14.
Monday, March 02 2009
GP Barn Notes 3-1
Affirmatif Very Impressive With Debut Win Saturday
The dust wasn’t completely settled from Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park when trainer Todd Pletcher threw another 3-year-old on to the stage in a big way as the Wertheimer Brothers’ Affirmatif rolled to a nine-length victory in his career debut.
The Kentucky homebred son of Unbridled’s Song won the one-mile maiden turf contest in 1:34.27 – faster by .04 than the time run by 5-year-old Pletcher-trained stablemate Twilight Meteor two races earlier in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3).
Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Handle Soars Beyond Last Year’s Totals
Beautiful weather and a solid racing program that featured appearances by classic winner Da’Tara; a graded turf stakes, and a headliner that matched most of the nation’s finest 3-year-olds contributed to an astronomical rise in total handle Saturday from the corresponding day at Gulfstream Park last year.
Saturday’s main event was the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, won by Quality Road, whose victory moved him to the upper echelon of Florida and Kentucky Derby hopefuls. On-track wagering was up 52.79% from last year’s ninth Saturday of the meet, a card highlighted by the historic Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Justwhistledixie Romps to Victory in Davona Dale Sunday
West Point Stables and Lakland Farm’s 3-year-old filly Justwhistledixie made an auspicious South Florida debut drawing off to win Sunday’s $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) by 3¾ lengths under jockey Alan Garcia in her first start since a 3½-length victory in the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 4.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Justwhistledixie is a daughter of Dixie Union purchased for $425,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales. She was posting her fourth victory in six starts, stamping herself as a Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospect.
Saturday, February 28 2009
Quality Road Rolls in Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth
Edward P. Evans’ 3-year-old Virginia homebred colt Quality Road broke alertly in Saturday’s $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, took command in the upper stretch of the one-mile test and drew clear to score by 4¼ lengths over Samotowka Stables and partners’ Theregoesjojo in the longtime Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby preview.
Ridden by John R. Velazquez for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Quality Road was making only the third start of his career in the one-turn mile test after a sensational debut at Aqueduct in late November and a runner-up effort at odds-on in an allowance race here Jan. 10. The imposing 17 hands bay paid $13 to win and was timed in 1:35:01 over the fast track.
Twilight Meteor Blazes to Canadian Turf Victory
Making his second start after a nine-month layoff, Peachtree Stable’s 5-year-old Canadian-bred Twilight Meteor stalked the early pace in Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park before forging to the front in the upper stretch and holding on for a one-length victory in the one-mile test under jockey John. R. Velazquez.
A chestnut son of Smart Strike, Twilight Meteor finished fourth in an allowance race over the course on Jan. 29 in his first start since late April. Saturday’s victory gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth tally in the Canadian Turf.
Castellano Injured in First Race Back From Injury
Jockey Javier Castellano, in his first ride since returning from an injury, fell from his mount Saturday and was under observation while complaining of soreness at Memorial Regional Hospital.
Castellano was aboard Valid Name in the first race at Gulfstream Park. The mishap occurred on the far turn.