The extended dry weather in South Florida this winter is exactly what the connections of Patricia Generazio’s Grade 1-winning turf star Presious Passion have been hoping for as the 6-year-old gelding goes into Saturday’s $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Mary Hartmann says the son of Royal Anthem loves firm ground, and she’s warily watching the weather for any sign of rain even though the area has had only 32/100ths of an inch of precipitation this year. She points to the gelding’s runner-up finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita where rain dampened the usually firm Southern California course (it was rated ‘good’ that day).
Presious Passion ran into wet tracks a lot last year, running over good, yielding or sloppy ground eight times in his last 12 starts. On dry courses he has won the W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) twice at Calder and the Pan American (G3) here.
The Florida-bred chestnut managed to win the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park over a yielding course and ran well in his most recent start over ground with some give to it. Hartmann says there’s a reason her Florida-bred charge nearly escaped with a victory in the soggy Sunshine Millions Turf.
“They say it was harder on the backstretch and it was yielding on the front stretch,” she said. “I think that’s what cost us the race. If it had been as hard in the stretch they never would have caught him, but the squish in the track got us again.”
There is little chance ‘the squish’ becomes a factor Saturday. The National Weather Service says there is only a slight chance of showers Thursday.
“We’re very glad to be in Florida,” said Hartmann. “This weather suits him and he’s training super right now.”
High Flying Week for Jerkens Could Continue Friday
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens was still accepting congratulations for the impressive victory by Joseph Shields Jr.’s 6-year-old mare Any Limit in Sunday’s $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3) Wednesday morning at Gulfstream Park.
He will look to keep the stable’s momentum going Friday when Mr. and Mrs. Leverett Miller’s So Glitzy runs in the $100,000 Sabin Stakes (G3).
The 5-year-old daughter of Gilded Time has been roughly on the same schedule as Any Limit over the last few months, and finished ahead of her multiple graded-stakes-winning stablemate last November in the Top Flight Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct, getting fourth while Any Limit was sixth.
Jerkens recognizes that So Glitzy figures to have a difficult task matching Any Limit Friday because of the deeper field.
“We knew what we had to do in Any Limit’s race,” said Jerkens. “It looks like (So Glitzy) deserves to be a longshot in there.”
Any Limit was one of three impressive victories last week for the Jerkens stable. He also sent out Peachtree Stable’s Matchless Orinda to a runaway allowance win Sunday, the second straight win for the 4-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa.
Jerkens also saddled another Sky Mesa runner, Robert Clay’s 4-year-old colt Formidable, to a second straight monster effort. The homebred has won his last two starts by a combined 10 lengths, but Jerkens is weighing whether to step the colt up to a stakes like the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on Mar. 14.
“There are two schools of thought: Let them go through their conditions, or go after things right away,” said Jerkens. Both Formidable and Matchless Orinda have won a maiden and an allowance race in succession.
“If you go through the conditions you might get a horse going off form at the end. Or else you go against heavy horses while they’re doing great. There’s a month. We will see.”
Gulfstream Jockeys Sweep All Five OBS Championship Races Monday
While it was dark-day Monday here, a large contingent of Gulfstream Park-based jockeys made the trip north to Ocala for the annual OBS Championship races, and four of them combined to win all five of the events, which were restricted to horses that have gone through an OBS sale.
Jose Lezcano won two of the races for trainer Kirk Ziadie — the $50,000 Florida Thoroughbred Charities with Duke’s Flying Tiger and the $50,000 OBS Sprint for fillies with R Brown Sugar.
Cornelio Velasquez brought back the richest prize of the day with 3-year-old Cape Royale capturing the $150,000 OBS Championship for trainer Bill White.
Alan Garcia guided 3-year-old filly Fitz Just Right, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, to victory in the $100,000 OBS Championship for fillies, and Elvis Trujillo was aboard Pray For Action in the $50,000 OBS Sprint for trainer Ronny Werner.