Jockey Elvis Trujillo won three of the first four races on Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park to bring his career total to 999 victories, but finished second on three other mounts thereafter, leaving his drive to 1,000 to Sunday at least when he is named to ride in seven races.
Jose Lezcano, who reached the 1,000-win milestone Feb. 13 at Gulfstream Park, won one race Saturday to bring his total to 58, 10 more than Kent Desormeaux, second with 48. John R. Velazquez is third at 47, Julien Leparoux fourth with 45 and Trujillo fifth.
While Lezcano appears virtually assured of capturing his first Gulfstream riding title, the battle for leading trainer may go down to the final days. Todd Pletcher had two winners on Saturday’s card to take a narrow lead over Ken McPeek (30-29) with both leaving a string here to compete in the final weeks of the session.
Pletcher is bidding for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream championship. The top two are followed in order by Nick Zito third with 21 wins, Wesley Ward fourth with 19 and Peter Walder fifth 17. McPeek, who is also approaching the 1,000-win mark (991 going into Sunday), has runners entered in three races Sunday while Pletcher has none.
Albertrani Can Bid for Seventh Stakes Win of Meet in Boynton Beach
Trainer Tom Albertrani hasn’t been in the national spotlight this year quite to the extent that he was after Darley Stable’s Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1) after launching his career with two starts at Gulfstream early that season and went on to earn Eclipse champion 3-year-olds.
However, Albertrani has been a regular in the Gulfstream winners’ circle at this meet after stakes victories that account for six of his nine wins from 33 starts with six seconds at the meet. He may add one more if he runs Lawrence Goichman’s 3-year-old filly My Magic Moment in next Saturday’s $50,000 Boynton Beach Stakes, the final stakes on the schedule.
Albertrani sent out Darley Stable’s 3-year-old filly Raw Silk to score a wire-to-wire victory in Saturday’s $50,000 South Beach Stakes as the daughter of Malibu Moon set a course record for 7½ furlongs on turf in her first start since November at Churchill Downs.
Prior to the South Beach Albertrani had recorded stakes victories with Melnyk Stable’s 3-year-old filly Gemswick Park in the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (G3) on Jan. 4; Padua Stable’s 3-year-old Duke of Homberg in the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes on Feb. 14; Farnsworth Stable’s 3-year-old filly Gozzip Girl in the $125,000 Coconut Grove Stakes on Feb. 15; Darley Stable’s 5-year-old mare Criticism in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes (G3) on Feb. 22, and Gozzip Girl in the $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) on Mar. 15.
My Magic Moment would likely be the favorite in the Boynton Beach if she runs, despite the fact that she would be returning from a layoff since winning an overnight stakes on turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 26 in her last start. The New York homebred daughter of Forest Wildcat had finished a close-up third in the Miss Grillo Stakes (G3) at Belmont earlier that month, beaten only a neck.
Blue Pepsi Lodge Returns in Wednesday Feature
Chester Bishop’s 7-year-old Blue Pepsi Lodge is a hard-hitting sprinter with 13 victories from 36 starts in his career and he’s entered to return from an eight-month layoff in Wednesday’s optional/allowance feature at Gulfstream Park going six furlongs.
Jockey Wesley Henry is named to ride Blue Pepsi Lodge as he makes his first start for trainer Joe Calascibetta after Kirk Ziadie guided his career the last few seasons, including a five-race win streak from late 2007 through early 2008. The chestnut son of Pioneering is entered for a $62,500 claiming tag in the field of seven.
Blue Pepsi Lodge was never better than last spring when he won the Champali overnight stakes at Calder by 5½ lengths in May, a performance that earned him a chance in bigger races, and did well enough to finish third behind Rockerfeller in the $100,000 Ponche Handicap in June.
In a big step up from the Ponche, Blue Pepsi Lodge tired to finish fifth in the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) in July behind Benny the Bull after dueling for the lead past the eighth pole. In one more start last year he finished a game second in the Hooting Star overnight on Aug. 9 after leading by three lengths at the furlong marker.
Another hard-hitting veteran stakes performer in the field for Wednesday’s race is owner-trainer Luis Olivares’ 5-year-old gelding Green Vegas, a winner of more than $500,000, most earned as a 2-year-old. The son of Trippi also is entered for the $62,500 claiming price with Carlos Olivero named to ride.
Green Vegas earned nearly half of his career bankroll of $515,000 winning the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder in 2006 going 1 1/16 miles, but has been most effective sprinting since then. In four starts at this meet, Green Vegas won an allowance race over First Word, finished fourth in the Sunshine State Stakes and second last out behind Biker Boy in an allowance on Mar. 18.
Completing the field for Wednesday’s feature are Winning Stable’s Blind River Fox, Wesley Henry; My Purple Haze Stables’ Mannington, Jose Lezcano; Freddy Chirinos Castro’s Pechito, Eduardo Nunez; Terry Bruner’s Next Adventure, Junior Alvarado; and Eddie Broome’s Big Red Hope, Elvis Trujillo.