Saturday, March 28 2009
Quality Road Sets Track Record Winning Florida Derby
Edward P. Evans 3-year-old Virginia homebred Quality Road turned back challengers at the head of the stretch in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park and drew off to win by 1 ¾ lengths over Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s even-money favorite Dunkirk in the historic South Florida Kentucky Derby (G1) preview.
Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Quality Road was a strong second choice after winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last out on Feb. 28 and punched his ticket to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2 as he paid $4.40 to win in his first start around two turns. The Virginia-bred son of Elusive Quality set a track record for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track.
‘Phil’ Wins Swale After Big Drama Disqualification
After a stretch-long battle in Saturday’s $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Harold Queen’s homebred 3-year-old Big Drama prevailed by a half-length over Paul Pompa Jr.’s This Ones for Phil in track-record time, but was disqualified and placed second after a stewards’ inquiry.
Big Drama was away alertly early in the seven-furlong test in his first start since winning the Delta Jackpot (G3) in early December and fought back bravely when challenged by This Ones for Phil in the stretch. Homewrecker Stable’s Custom for Carlos finished third in the field six, 4½ lengths behind the runner-up.
Nicanor Second Again in Third Start at Gulfstream
Lael Stable’s 3-year-old Nicanor, full-brother to ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Barbaro, made his third career start Saturday at Gulfstream Park, and finished second as he did last out on Mar. 7, this time a half-length behind Brenda Stewart’s Glittermans Cartel in a one-mile maiden race.
Trained by Michael Matz and ridden by jockey Jose Lezcano, Nicanor was the 7-10 favorite in the field of eight 3-year-olds and loomed boldly into the stretch, but failed to make up ground in the final yards. Glittermans Cartel was timed in 1:36:08 over the fast track and paid $10.20 for $2. Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode the winner for trainer Ken McPeek.
Horse Society’s Post-Race Party to Benefit Old Friends, New Vocations
A post-race party to be held at Gulfstream Park Saturday, Florida Derby Day, will benefit the Old Friends thoroughbred-retirement home and the New Vocations racehorse-adoption program.
The party is free and open to the public and will begin immediately after the 12th race in Gulfstream Park’s South Beach area. The event was organized and sponsored by Horse Society Magazine, an emerging publication that has made a splash in the industry with its profiles of the sport’s leading lights and its coverage of the “Lifestyle of Thoroughbred Racing.”
Justwhistledixie Romps in Bonnie Miss Friday
West Point Thoroughbreds and partners’ 3-year-old filly Justwhistledixie confirmed her status as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs when she rallied down the stretch to capture the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park Friday by 1¾ lengths over Edward P. Evans’ Casanova Move.
Jockey Julien Leparoux rode 3-5 favorite Justwhistledixie with complete confidence, rating comfortably in fourth down the backstretch of the 1 1/8 miles test before circling rivals on the far turn and drawing clear with authority as she scored her fifth straight victory for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Dunkirk (N.Y.) Abuzz
New York Great Lakes Town (No, Not Sacketts Harbor) Has Rooting Interest in the Florida Derby
The south shores of Lake Erie are far from the Aegean Sea, but there’s been a war brewing between city-states here mildly reminiscent of that between Athens and Sparta.
The cities in question are Fredonia, population 10,706, and Dunkirk, the bigger city with 13,131 inhabitants, two hamlets nestled between Erie, Pa., and Buffalo, N.Y..
Friday, March 27 2009
Barn Notes 3-27
So Glitzy Stepping Up for the Rampart
Mr. and Mrs. Leverett Miller’s So Glitzy has been tracking some of the leading females at Gulfstream Park this winter with mild success, and will try to put her name among the distaff division’s elite in Sunday’s $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G2).
Trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, the 5-year-old Florida homebred daughter of Gilded Time has lost her last eight races, but is going around two turns and traveling 1 1/8 miles in the Rampart – just like she did in her last victory last July at Saratoga.
Gulfstream Park’s Barbaro Foundation Names Its Three Winners for 2009
Gulfstream Park, in conjunction with the University of Florida, has named Erica Rosen and Megan Murphy Lamb winners of its annual Florida Derby Scholarship and Astrid Groshe winner of the Barbaro Scholarship.
Ms Rosen and Ms. Lamb will each receive $12,500 as winners of their scholarship, and Ms. Grosche will receive $5,000 for her award.
One Caroline & Ginger Brew Clash in Rampart Sunday
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s undefeated 4-year-old filly One Caroline will be favored to keep her record perfect in Sunday’s $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, but will face her sternest test yet with Stronach Stable’s Canadian champion filly Ginger Brew among six rival fillies and mares.
Jockey Edgar Prado rides One Caroline for trainer Rusty Arnold in the 1 1/8 miles Rampart as the roan/gray daughter of Unbridled’s Song bids for her third straight victory of the meet and fifth overall all after winning her first two starts at Churchill Downs last spring at 1 1/16 miles.
Thursday, March 26 2009
Barn Notes 2/26
Speedy Casey’s On Call Jumps Into the Fray
When Casey’s On Call made his 3-year-old debut in a $75,000 claiming race Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park, his connections were not thinking about the Kentucky Derby trail.
Trainer Alec Fehr was.
The 42-year-old Canadian-based trainer convinced owner Terry Hamilton to claim the son of Gimmeawink. Six weeks later they are hoping to run away with the biggest prize of the season as BlackBerry Presents the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) Saturday.
Florida Derby advance
Dunkirk & Quality Road Lead Cast for 58th Florida Derby
Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Dunkirk, very impressive winning his two starts at Gulfstream Park this season for trainer Todd Pletcher; and Edward P. Evans’ Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner Quality Road are the morning-line favorites at 9-5 and 2-1, respectively, for Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1).
The two emerging star 3-year-olds will bid to use the historic 1 1/8 miles fixture to earn a berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs five weeks later on Sat., May 2. A field of nine was drawn Wednesday morning for the 58th edition of South Florida’s showcase race.
Wednesday, March 25 2009
GP Barn Notes 3-25
Beethoven Out of Florida Derby
John Oxley’s Beethoven was expected to be the third or fourth choice behind Dunkirk and Quality Road in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park but will pass the race, according to trainer John Ward Jr.
“There was some heat in a tendon in a front leg (Wednesday) morning,” said Ward of the Sky Mesa colt. “It seems minor, not extreme, but we decided it’s best to not make a minor situation worse. It’s possible he could be back in the entries in the not-too-distant future.”