Romans Readies 2-Year-Olds for Gulfstream Season
River Seven Seeks Pay Dirt in Sunday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday
Apriority Prepares For Mr. Prospector

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans is scheduled to enter the 2013-2014 Gulfstream Park stakes wars Saturday with Hesinfront in the $100,000 Dania Beach (G3).

“Hopefully, he’s in front at the wire,” Romans cracked.

Hesinfront, a son of War Front, is coming off a late-running victory in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race over the Churchill Downs turf course on Nov. 30. Jesus Castanon has the return mount for the Dania Beach.

“He’s a good horse. He trains like a nice one,” Romans said. “This is a big step up. He got here a little late. I’m not sure he’s gotten completely acclimated, but I think he can run with these horses.

“It’s hard to go from cold to warm. They’ve got to let them adjust,” Romans added. “If you get here before it gets cold, you’re better off, but we got here a little late this winter.”

Romans’ other prominent 2-year-olds – Cleburne, Smart Cover and Medal Count – will have time to acclimate to their South Florida surroundings.

“Cleburne and Smart Cover are both coming off shins. Cleburne’s getting ready to start back training,” said Romans, who hasn’t set a schedule for them yet.

Cleburne and Smart Cover finished 1-2 in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on Sept. 7.

Medal Count, who finished 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is closer to his 2014 debut.

“I’ll run him after the first of the year,” Romans said of the son of Dynaformer. “We’ll probably breeze him on the grass to see what we have, but I think he’s a good horse. If he’s not a good horse, I’ve never been so wrong.”

River Seven Seeks Pay Dirt in Sunday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday

One thing about a 2-year-old colt by Johannesburg made him particularly attractive to trainer Nick Gonzalez at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale at Palm Meadows in March 2012.

“One of the attractions, obviously, was that he was an Ontario-bred and we were thinking long term that we had all those opportunities,” said Gonzalez, who is based at Woodbine, the suburban Toronto racetrack, for the majority of the racing season. “And I knew the mother. Roger Attfield trained the mother and I knew she was versatile.”

River Seven, who was purchased by the Tucci Stable for $60,000, developed after being gelded into a solid stakes performer north of the border, where he has won stakes on Polytrack and turf and finished second in two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown this year. His runner-up finish in the $500,000 Prince of Wales came on dirt at Fort Erie.

“When we’re at Woodbine there are only two kinds of tracks – Polytrack and turf. We did run him in the second jewel of our Triple Crown at a mile and three-sixteenths at Fort Erie in the Prince of Wales, and he ran one of his best races,” Gonzalez said. “He’s a good horse and I’ve always looked forward to running him on the dirt again.”

Gonzalez is looking forward to saddling River Seven for a start on Gulfstream’s main track in Sunday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday. The 3-year-old gelding is coming off a pair of turf stakes victories, including a half-length victory in the Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs last month.

“We’ll see how he stacks up against the best horses down here,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to point us in a direction. He’s either going to go back to turf if these horses are too much for him or maybe we’ll get lucky like we did when we went to Churchill Downs and he shows he stacks up against the best horses in the United States like he does in Canada. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

River Seven, who is scheduled to be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., has worked well over the Gulfstream Park main track in preparation for the Harlan’s Holiday, which has also attracted Csaba and Neck ‘n Neck, rated 1-2 in the morning line at 5-2 and 3-1, respectively.

“The horse is in very good shape. There’s not going to be any excuses that you didn’t have a horse that wasn’t 100 percent, because he’s going into the race the way we want him to,” said Gonzalez, whose gelding is rated fourth at 5-1 in the eight-horse field. “If you want to take on the best horses, you have to have your horse in the best shape, and I think that’s where we’re at.”

Apriority Prepares For Mr. Prospector

Apriority, winner of the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) two years ago, will go postward in next Saturday’s renewal of the $100,000 contest at Gulfstream Park. The classy 6-year-old had gone winless in his next 12 starts, but finally broke that skein with a five-length success under optional claiming conditions at Gulfstream on November 24.

“It was a confidence booster,” trainer David Fawkes confirmed. “He’s been training really well since.”

While Apriority had been battling foot issues prior to his most recent start, recent shoe changes have him back in form. Fawkes tried him on the turf on October 26, but the Florida-bred didn’t get involved.

“They went just a little too quick early,” Fawkes said. “He made a run, but they weren’t backing up.”

Apriority has recorded two sharp drills in December, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 last Sunday.

“He worked really good that day,” Fawkes added. “He will breeze again [tomorrow] and we’ll run next weekend.”

Joe Bravo, who rode Apriority for the first time last month, will have the mount again in the Mr. Prospector.

“We’ll see how the race sets up for him, but I like to let the jock just ride his race,” Fawkes remarked.

Apriority has bankrolled over $500,000 to date for owner/breeder Donald Dizney. He has won six of 30 career starts, with four of those victories coming at Gulfstream.