Turf Is King on Opening Weekend of Gulfstream’s Champions Meet
Busy Weekend for Vaccarezza
The Chad Brown-trained turf filly has traveled from New York to Canada to California to South Florida, showing considerable promise while coming away from her three trips to post with one victory, that coming in her debut at Saratoga in July, and a whole lot of experience.
Following her professional performance in her debut, Ready to Act was deemed ready for stakes competition and was shipped to Woodbine for the Natalma (G2) in September. The Kentucky-bred filly opened up a two-length lead in deep stretch and was on her way to victory when she suddenly and sharply veered to her inside, unseating her jockey in the process.
“She shied from the whip. She was only hit one time, and she bucked. It was clearly from being hit by the whip. It was unexpected. She had never shown that. In the first race of her career she won and was hit by the whip a couple times, and she didn’t do it,” Brown said. “I don’t know if it was a combination of being caught off guard and being in new surroundings, but she never showed any tendency to do that before or after the race at Woodbine.”
Having clearly shown graded-stakes talent before the incident, Ready to Act was shipped to Santa Anita to run in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) on Nov. 1. The gray filly broke alertly from her outside post position to get good stalking position during the short run into the first turn. She made a determined bid into mid-stretch before weakening to sixth, 4 ½ lengths behind the winner.
“She had a good trip. She may have been a little short for the race. That race might have been a little tough for her, competition wise,” Brown said. “All in all, I thought she ran well and she came out of the race in good shape.”
Ready to Act, who was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will be ridden by Alan Garcia, her fourth jockey in as many starts for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence.
Martin Schwartz’s Hillhouse High will also represent Brown’s stable in the Wait a While. The daughter of Exchange Rate, who will be ridden by Paco Lopez, broke her maiden last time out in her third career start.
“She’s coming along with every race. I thought all summer that she had the ability to find herself in stakes,” Brown said. “It took her a little longer to get her in stakes company, but I thought she deserved a shot in this race.”
Hillhouse High is rated third in the morning line at 5-1. The Todd Pletcher-trained Candy Kitty, who finished fourth in the Jessamine (G3) at Keeneland last time out, is rated second at 3-1.
Turf Is King on Opening Weekend at Gulfstream
Turf racing will make up half of the scheduled action during the opening weekend of Gulfstream’s Champions Meet. On Saturday, the $100,000 Pulpit and the $100,000 Wait a While, both slated for a mile, will be joined on the 10-race program by three other turf races. Five of the 10-races on Sunday’s card are scheduled to be run over Gulfstream’s state-of-the-art grass course.
The Champions Meet will be kicked off Saturday with Breakfast at Gulfstream, the popular weekly gathering in the Tiki Hut area 7-10 a.m.
Gulfstream’s annual giveaway program will get underway Saturday at 11 a.m. with free 2014 Gulfstream calendars while supplies last.
Post time for the first race is set for 12:40 p.m.
The popular Rainbow 6 will be back, but with a couple of major changes. The base wager has been increased from 10-cents to 20-cents, which promises to generate higher jackpots while allowing bettors in Canada to participate in the multi-race wager with life-changing potential. On days when there is no single bettor with a unique ticket with all six winners, the payoff to those holding tickets with the most winners will be boosted from 60 percent to 70 percent of the daily pool.
The 50-cent Pick 5 will return on the last five races on the card. A pair of 50-cent Pick 4s, the first starting on the second race and the other covering the final four races on the card, will also be on the exotic-wager menu.
The $1 Super High-5 will be offered on the last race.
Busy Weekend for Vaccarezza
Carlo Vaccarezza has a busy weekend planned.
The owner and breeder will board a plane Saturday evening and fly 25 hours to watch his Grade I winner Little Mike run in the Hong Kong Cup. But before boarding that plane, Vaccarezza will saddle his first horse as a Thoroughbred trainer - Little Dreams Racing's Little Daniella in Gulfstream's sixth race.
"I'm pretty excited and everyone has been very supportive," said Vaccarezza, who has 12 horses at Gulfstream. "Frank Stronach and Gulfstream Park have been great. They put me in a barn with Allen Jerkens. Unbelievable. He's such a wonderful person and so helpful."
Vaccarezza has been in the Thoroughbred business for 35 years, beginning as a hotwalker at Aqueduct and spending his mornings over the summer at Gulfstream beginning at 4:30 a.m. Vaccarezza had a training center in Ocala for a number of years but "got a little bored with Ocala" and spent more time with his other business, owning and running restaurants. "But the last few years, basically because of Little Mike, I've got more involved in racing and now have a couple dozen horses plus broodmares," he said. "I've got a lot of passion for the sport."
Although he sold some of his restaurants, he still owns the very popular Frank and Dino's in Deerfield Beach, which includes the Little Mike Lounge.
Vaccarezza, who started the racing partnership Little Dreams Racing earlier in the year, says he's making no changes when it comes to the training of Little Mike, who will remain under the care of Dale Romans.
"The horses I have are mine, my wife Priscilla, and other partners," Vaccarezza said. "Dale, who's also been very supportive of me, will have the big horses and all the others."