Two years ago, Glenn Bromagen’s Wicked Style was an undefeated rising star with a Grade 1 victory and a spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Two leg fractures later he’s a 4-year-old on the brink of a successful comeback, according to trainer Rusty Arnold, ahead of a classy allowance race Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
The son of Macho Uno impressively won his first three career races including the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in 2007 before a disheartening 41-length loss in the Juvenile in the slop at Monmouth Park behind eventual champ War Pass. He emerged with a condylar fracture in his front leg that wiped out a shot at the 3-year-old classics and kept him on the shelf for seven months.
“When we got him back he didn’t come with the races we expected from him,” said Arnold. “We sent him to Dr. (Larry) Bramlage and he found a stress fracture in his other leg. It was one of those days where you’re actually kind of glad to hear there was something because the other option was that he wasn’t going to get back to what he was before the injury.”
That discovery last July wiped out the rest of the season and set Wicked Style and Arnold on a course that would bring the colt back to basics with this year in mind.
“We gave him the time to get over that,” he said. “Doc described it as something that wouldn’t show up right away, but it was bugging him when he ran and it would have eventually given him problems. We could have given him 90 days, but instead I just said take the year. We’ve lost it anyway. Now we’ve got him back and we’re ready to go.”
Wicked Style has been working steadily at Palm Meadows Training Center and was entered in last Saturday’s Tallahassee Stakes for Florida-breds on the grass. Arnold scratched the colt when the one-mile allowance came together on the main track. There will be some obvious questions to answer when he returns from his latest seven-month vacation.
“You worry about the injury and you worry about the fact that his best races came on artificial surfaces,” said Arnold. Wicked Style is 3-for-4 on artificial surfaces and has never raced on a fast dirt track. “As far as the horse goes, he’s doing very well. We’re just going to have to see and get him racing again.”
Tale of Ekati in Richter Scale Tune-up
Charles Fipke’s multiple Grade 1-winner Tale of Ekati posted what will likely be his last major workout before his 2009 debut with a five-furlong drill Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park.
The 4-year-old homebred son of Tale of the Cat is scheduled to race in Saturday’s $150,000 Richter Scale Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs in his first appearance since being placed first, via disqualification, in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tale of Ekati was clocked in 1:00 3/5 for five furlongs. He will be the second major star from that barn to begin this year’s campaign at seven furlongs in the last two weeks. Elizabeth Valando’s 3-year-old colt Hello Broadway finished second in the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) on Jan. 29. While the distances may be the same, the expectations for both are different.
“With Hello Broadway we were hoping he would settle off the pace more than he did,” said Tagg, from his Gulfstream Park office, referring to his young charge’s sharp speed in the Hutcheson. “There’s a progression we want to build him up to. With Tale of Ekati, I expect they might run away from him early in that race, but he will close. I have less to worry about with him because he’s experienced.”
Tale of Ekati won the Wood Memorial (G1) last spring at Aqueduct and the Jerome Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in October along with his Cigar Mile title. He was also fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), 11 lengths behind Big Brown.
Mambo Meister Hopes to Make Amends in Canadian Turf
After two unlucky trips, Quantum Racing Team #1’s Mambo Meister is working his way toward another chance on turf for trainer Phil Gleaves in the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28.
The 4-year-old son of King Cugat never had a chance to show his best in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes on Jan. 10 when he got caught in traffic and finished sixth. He followed up with a runner-up finish behind runaway front-runner Jet Propulsion in a $48,000 stakes-caliber allowance race on Jan. 21.
With those two races coming in a short span, Gleaves has been taking it easy on Mambo Meister for the past three weeks. The workload is about to ramp up this week.
“He gets back to work tomorrow and then I will breeze him on the grass the following Sunday,” said Gleaves Sunday morning at Gulfstream.
“Normally I would have run him back by now after his last race, but there were only 11 days between his last two starts. I gave him a little time and will start him back breezing now.”
Mambo Meister won two stakes on dirt at Calder last summer and took a swing in the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs in September only to finish seventh. Gleaves took the opportunity to move his charge back to the turf and was immediately rewarded with a sharp allowance victory Nov. 21.
The Canadian Turf is one mile and will be the supporting feature on the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) card.
Leparoux & Desormeaux Tied; Lezcano Needs One
The highly competitive Gulfstream Park riding title chase continues with Kent Desormeaux and Julien Leparoux tied for the lead going into Sunday’s program with 23 victories apiece after Leparoux missed Saturday’s card for stakes mounts at Fair Grounds.
Although Leparoux’s mount Au Moon in the $200,000 Risen Star Stakes (G3) finished off the board, he did not return empty handed as he rode Diamond Tycoon to victory in the $100,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (G3).
Next in the standings after the top two are Alan Garcia and Jose Lezcano tied for third with 19 wins each. Garcia won two races at Gulfstream Saturday, including Vanquisher in the $75,000 Tallahassee Stakes. Lezcano rode one winner and needs only one more to reach the 1,000 career victory plateau.
Next on the leader board are Edgar Prado and defending Gulfstream titlist Eibar Coa with 18 each and John R. Velazquez and Cornelio Velasquez with 17 apiece. Velazquez also was on the road Saturday for stakes mounts at Santa Anita and scored big with Cowboy Cal capturing the $250,000 Strub Stakes (G2) for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Fearless Vision & Forefathers Clash in Thursday Allowance Feature
Paul Pompa Jr.’s Fearless Vision ran a big race to finish fifth in the Hal’s Hope Handicap (G3) on opening day and Zayat Stable’s graded-stakes placed Forefathers is set for his season debut, and both 5-year-olds will attract support in Thursday’s one-mile allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Eibar Coa takes a return call on Fearless Vision for trainer Patrick Reynolds after the roan/gray son of Vision and Verse made a bold bid in the stretch of the one-mile Hal’s Hope on Jan. 3 before tiring to fifth, beaten only 4¼ lengths by Delightful Kiss. Fearless Vision had won his last two allowance starts going one mile at Aqueduct late last year before shipping south.
Jockey John R. Velazquez will have the mount on Forefathers as he returns to trainer Nick Zito’s barn for this season. A son of Gone West, Forefathers finished second in the Jerome Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park as a 3-year-old and third in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) last spring for trainer Bill Mott. He will make his first start since trailing in last of six in the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs in November.
Another solid contender in the field of seven drawn for Thursday’s race is Marc Keller’s 6-year-old French-bred gelding Bribon with Alan Garcia to ride for trainer Robert Ribaudo. The son of Mark of Esteem finished a strong third in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct in late November, but tired to 10th in the Hal’s Hope after prompting the pace into the stretch.
Completing the field are Clyde Martin’s Fancy Runner, Clyde Martin; Frank Calabrese’s It’s Never to Late, E.T. Baird; Glen Bromagen’s Wicked Style, Rene Douglas; and Leo-Sag Stable and partners’ Cuba, Kent Desormeaux.
Second Jockey-Poster Signing Set for Sunday, Feb. 15
The annual jockey-poster signing, a huge hit with fans since its inception more than 10 years ago, was conducted in the walking ring today at Gulfstream Park, and it proved so popular that the jockeys will be back next Sunday for a redux performance.
This year’s poster features the jockeys inside the stalls of the Gulfstream Park starting gate. Past posters put them at Tommy Bahama Beach; in top hats and tails; in construction gear; on the second-floor colonnade and on the tote board.
Participating in Sunday’s signing were clerk of scales Victor Sanchez, Hall of Fame riders Edgar Prado and Kent Desormeaux; soon-to-be Hall of Famer John Velazquez; past Gulfstream riding champions Eibar Coa and Cornelio Velasquez; rising stars Paco Lopez, Alan Garcia, Elvis Trujillo and Julien Leparoux, and established stars Carlos Marquez Jr., Rene Douglas, Jose Lezcano and Joe Bravo.