HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -- Will Take Charge, the recently crowned 3-year-champion, will be the 123-pound highweight for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on February 9 at Gulfstream Park.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Revolutionary was assigned 119 pounds. Hero of the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Withers Stakes (G3), the dark bay colt made a successful return on January 11 going a flat mile at Gulfstream. Private Zone, based in California with trainer Doug O'Neill, was allotted 118 pounds.
Lea, who annexed the Hal's Hope Handicap (G3) in his first start for trainer Bill Mott on January 11, will carry 117 pounds. River Seven, who set a Gulfstream track record in winning the Harlan's Holiday Stakes on December 22 for trainer Nick Gonzalez, was assigned 116 pounds. Also in at the 116-pound level are Neck 'n Neck, third in the Hal's Hope for trainer Ian Wilkes; and Romansh, who was last seen winning the Discovery Handicap (G3) in November on behalf of trainer Tom Albertrani.
Ragtime Smart Maiden Winner for McGaughey
It was only fitting that there would be a winner named Ragtime on the day that Gulfstream celebrated its 75th anniversary.
A rallying third in his debut on New Year's Day, the racy chestnut had trained smartly in the interim and was the third choice in the wagering for today's fifth race, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-olds. Ragtime got away cleanly under apprentice Dylan Davis, forced the issue early and was in command by the time he hit the half-mile in :45.32. The son of Henny Hughes was never threatened en route to a 3 1/4-length tally over Strong Stiplulation and Sassicaia. He stopped the clock in 1:16 and returned $11 to his backers.
"He was a little green today in the stretch," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "He's a good, sound horse and a little firmer track won't bother him."
A homebred for the Phipps Stable, Ragtime is out of Castanet, a half-sister to McGaughey's former turf star Dancing Forever. The Hall of Fame conditioner indicated that grass might be in the future for Ragtime at some point.
"I never did (think of him as a turf horse), until he ran the first time and I saw he had a little more action than he had in the morning," McGaughey explained. "It wouldn't surprise me, being that he's out of an El Prado mare and his pedigree on the bottom side. Henny Hughes was a dirt sprinter, but a lot of times, especially with the Phipps', they take after the mares a little bit more than the sires."
One race later, another Hall of Fame trainer handled the winner of a maiden special weight event. Bill Mott was on hand to saddle first-time starter West Coast Girl for owner Live Oak Plantation. A $725,000 yearling purchase, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was on the engine from the start and put away even-money chalk Bridled Heiress for a 1 1/4-length graduation under John Velazquez. West Coast Girl paid $12.40.
"She won very nicely," Mott said. "I was very happy with that first-out. If they're good enough to overcome me to win first time out, they can turn out okay."
West Coast Swing, who hails from the family of champion Dance Smartly, was the pedigree and physique for longer distances.
"I wasn't totally surprised (about being on the lead, because she had shown some speed in the mornings," Mott added. "He said she was a little rank today and didn't really relax that well for him, but I think that in time she'll learn to switch it off a little bit and then she'll be okay."
WHO'S HOT: Jockey Javier Castellano rode three winners on Saturday, guiding Wildcat Red ($6.00) to victory in the Hutcheson Stakes (G3), Fusa Code ($3.00) in the third and Unitarian ($8.80) in the eighth.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $314,125,33