A quick look at the Saturday overnight of the six stakes races worth $1.3 million to be run on the Florida Sunshine Millions program at Gulfstream Park would not easily identify the event as restricted to Florida-bred runners because more than a third - 17 of the 48 horses entered - , are ‘open’ Graded stakes winners of a total of 30 Graded races.
In addition to 2010 Eclipse champion Awesome Feather and 2011 Eclipse champion Musical Romance, two others (Teaks North and Hooh Why) are Grade 1 winners while four more have won one or more Grade 2 events. There are at least two Graded stakes winners in each of the six races, topped by five of the nine entered in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Despite a slight injury incurred in a stall incident last weekend, multiple stakes-winner Pomeroys Pistol is expected to challenge Eclipse champion Musical Romance in Saturday’s $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Fillies and Mares Sprint at Gulfstream Park.
“She’s doing great. She rapped herself behind in her stall. She’s being treated, but it’s nothing to keep her from running,” trainer Amy Tarrant said Wednesday morning. “If I think she isn’t 100 percent, of course, she wouldn’t run.”
The winner of the Forward Gal (2) last year, Pomeroys Pistol returned to Gulfstream to capture the Sugar Swirl (G3) by two lengths on Dec. 10, overcoming the rail post position while stalking the early pace along the inside before jockey Javier Castellano found room outside for her impressive stretch drive.
“I’m glad we don’t have the one hole in this race,” said Tarrant, whose 4-year-old filly drew the No. 6 post in the field of seven, one spot inside Musical Romance, the 2011 champion female sprinter and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner.
The daughter of Pomeroy finished fourth behind Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup, in which she broke uncharacteristically slow from her far-outside post position, raced wide while maintaining a contending position, and faltered in the stretch.
Pomeroys Pistol, who has earned $570,178 in 13 lifetime starts, has won graded stakes at six furlongs, the distance of Saturday’s raced for Florida-bred fillies and mares, six and a half furlongs and seven furlongs.
Groupie Doll Takes on ‘Boys’ in Friday Allowance Feature
Fred and William Bradley’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred filly Groupie Doll was a very impressive wire-to-wire allowance winner at one mile in a strong field at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 22, and takes on a bigger challenge Friday as she faces five male rivals in another one-mile allowance feature on Friday, including Jay Em Ess Stable and partner’s highly-regarded 4-year-old colt Boys At Tosconova.
Jockey Calvin Borel gets the return call on Groupie Doll for co-owner and trainer William ‘Buff’ Bradley as she bids for a fifth victory in nine career starts with two seconds. The daughter of Bowman’s Band won the Gardenia Stakes (G3) at Ellis Park last summer and ran big races to finish second in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks in September and second by a head in the Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in late October.
“We’re pointing her for the ($100,000) Sabin (G3) (1 1/16 miles on Feb. 25),” said Bradley Wednesday morning. “We tried to get her in a race for fillies and mares, but the race didn’t go. She’s doing great. I don’t normally like to do this (filly against colts), but she needs to run.”
Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets aboard Boys At Tosconova for the first time for trainer Rick Dutrow as he bids for a third straight victory on the comeback trail after missing much of the 2011 season. The son of Officer won the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and finished second to Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as a 2-year-old.
Boys At Tosconova was sidelined for 11 months after the good effort in the Breeders’ Cup, returning with a third-place finish as the 1-to-2 favorite in an allowance race at Belmont Park on Oct. 8. He came back to win a 6 ½ furlongs allowance test at Aqueduct on Nov. 11 and a one-mile allowance over the Gulfstream track by a length on Dec. 23.
Another contender in the field for Friday’s race that shouldn’t be overlooked is Robert LaPenta’s 5-year-old Our Dark Knight with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Nick Zito. The son of Medaglia d’Oro finished second last out to Dutrow-trained favorite Trickmeister in a 1 1/16 miles allowance race on Dec. 17. Trickmeister is undefeated and among the probable favorites for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on Feb. 11.
Completing the field for Friday’s race are Helene and Stephen Weicholz’ El Kingdom, Paco Lopez; Jessica Colon’s Imperial Czar, Orlando Bocachica; and Blackacre Farms’ Flatter This, Luis Jurado.