A strong workout on the grass course Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park solidified plans for Phipps Stables’ Pick Six as a contender for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) next Sunday.
Trainer Shug McGaughey was on the lookout for a solid performance in the half-mile breeze as he seeks an improvement on a ninth-place finish in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes here on Jan. 10 by the 5-year-old homebred son of Dynaformer.
McGaughey was disappointed by the dull finish in Pick Six’s last race and said the horse’s schedule didn’t fall into place in time.
“His training got kind of messed up a bit in terms of when I could get him on the grass,” he said. “I had to put some works into him in a hurry and he wasn’t all the way there.”
Pick Six will be bidding for his first career stakes victory. He finished second in the Four Bases Stakes at Aqueduct in November and has a maiden and two allowance race wins to his credit in 15 career starts.
Jambalaya ‘Not Quite Ready’ for Gulfstream Park Turf Return
The comeback story for Kingfield Racing Stable’s 7-year-old turf star Jambalaya won’t include a chapter about earning a second title in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) next Sunday as the 2007 winner of that race is “not quite ready” for his first start in 17 months.
“He’s getting there, but it’s still just a little too soon,” said trainer Catherine Day-Phillips. “He’s been breezing every week and he’s starting to turn back into a racehorse. He’s just about rid of the pot belly and looking more like an athlete.”
Jambalaya, a gelded son of Dynaformer, emerged from his victory in the 2007 Arlington Million (G1) with a deep bone bruise. He was working toward a return last winter in Florida, but was hampered by a pulled muscle in his hind end.
Day-Phillips has been shuttling between Ocala and Gulfstream Park where Jambalaya has been drilling since mid-December. The daughter of Canadian racing Hall of Fame horseman Jim Day admits it’s been a learning process figuring out how to help her star pupil get back on his game.
“It’s a different feeling getting one horse to come back like this,” said Day-Phillips. “We’ve been feeling and working our way through it. We couldn’t really keep him at Woodbine as the track got frozen there. We figured sending him here would give him the right opportunity to think he’s a racehorse again. It’s a bit of a juggle because we’ve got 40 horses in Ocala, but it seems to be working well.”
Jambalaya’s latest breeze was a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 1:00 flat on the main track Sunday morning, confirming for Day-Phillips what she had been seeing in the horse’s previous workouts.
“He’s also been away so long we need to take him to the gate again. That will be the next step.”
While the Gulfstream Park Turf has been ruled out, Day-Phillips indicated Jambalaya should be ready for his comeback in the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) at one mile Feb. 28.
Einstein Posts Handy Workout in Final Move Ahead of Donn
Midnight Cry Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Einstein posted his last drill Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park before taking a swing in Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), the premier main track race of the season for older horses.
The 7-year-old Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck worked five furlongs in a ‘bullet’ 1:00 flat with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard for trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi.
The winner of the 2006 and 2008 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) remains on target for the dirt attempt. He won the Clark Handicap (G2) on the Churchill Downs main track in his last start on Nov. 28.
Bruce N Autumn Added to Holy Bull Challengers
Zayat Stables’ Bruce N Autumn will get another test of his credentials for the Triple Crown trail when the 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid starts in Saturday’s $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Bruce N Autumn a sharp half-mile in 47 2/5 for trainer Dale Romans Sunday morning at Gulfstream and will look for his charge to bounce back from a fifth-place effort in a stakes caliber allowance race here Jan. 8.
“He worked good and will get the shot,” said Romans of Bruce N Autumn, who is 1-for-3 with his lone victory coming on the turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26. “We’re going to test him to see if he needs to go back to the turf or if he can compete with the top 3-year-olds on dirt.
The Holy Bull is the headliner in the sophomore division Saturday and shares the marquee with the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) for older horses, both races run at 1 1/8 miles
Talent Search to Return in Wednesday Allowance Feature
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 6-year-old homebred Talent Search ranked high among the nation’s sprinters in 2007, and is entered to return to competition to in Wednesday’s optional/allowance feature at 6½ furlongs after making only one start in 2008.
Jockey Julien Leparoux is named to ride the son of Catienus in his first start for trainer Mike Maker. Talent Search was trained by Mark Shuman in 2007 when he finished second in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, third behind Midnight Lute in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Monmouth Park and second in the De Francis Memorial (G1) at Laurel Park.
In his only start last year for trainer Bobby Frankel, Talent Search finished a game second in the Phoenix Stakes (G3) on Polytrack at Keeneland. He has posted a steady series of workouts over the Gulfstream track over the last month in preparation for another campaign.
However, Talent Search is not in a soft spot for his return. The field of eight also includes M375 Thoroughbreds and Suarez Tracing’s Golden Spikes and Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, both 4-year-olds with Grade 2 stakes wins last year. Jockey John R. Velazquez rides Golden Spikes as the son of Seeking the Gold bids to bounce back from a dull try on the ‘Pro-Ride’ surface at Santa Anita, finishing seventh in the Malibu Stakes (G1) on Dec. 26.
Trained by Marty Wolfson, Golden Spikes was considered a potential Triple Crown race prospect early last year when second in the Illinois Derby (G2), but found his best stride when turned back to sprint distances over the summer, scoring his biggest victory in the Carry Back Stakes (G2) in July at Calder.
Jockey Jose Lezcano gets the call on Cool Coal Man for trainer Nick Zito in his first start since finishing fifth in the Jerome Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park on Oct. 5. The son of Mineshaft won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) here in late February, but failed to show his best when ninth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Completing the field for Wednesday’s feature are Windmill Manor Farm’s Knights Cross, Cornelio Velasquez; David and Teresa Palmer’s Storm in May, Juan Leyva; E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Gold Trippi, Javier Castellano; Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start, Kent Desormeaux; and Rose Family Stable’s Rexson’s Rose, Wesley Henry.