McPeek Back on Top with Two Wins Sunday at Gulfstream

The Gulfstream Park trainers’ title chase continued to be a day-by-day affair over the weekend as Todd Pletcher sent out two winners Saturday to lead by one and the Ken McPeek stable came right back with two on Sunday to regain the lead at 31-30 in competition that promises to continue through the final seven days of the meet, which closes Thursday, April 23.

McPeek broke on top early in the season in January, but Pletcher has steadily picked up momentum as he bids for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream championship. McPeek also is on a career milestone watch with 993 winners and closing in on 1,000.

Both trainers have shipped the bulk of their powerful stables north but left behind a division that fits the races carded here in the final weeks. Pletcher has runners entered in nine races Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, three each afternoon; while McPeek has none on Wednesday, two Thursday and three on Friday.

Trainer Wesley Ward has come on strong in recent weeks, winning all three of the 2-year-old races run here so far, and moved into a tie for third in the standings at 21 wins with Nick Zito. Peter Walder ranks fifth with 17 victories.

Jose Lezcano is drawing clear in his quest for a first Gulfstream jockey title with 59 wins, 11 more than Kent Desormeaux at 48, followed by John Velazquez third at 47 and Julien Leparoux and Elvis Trujillo tied for fourth at 45 apiece.

Trujillo rode his 1,000th career winner here in the first race Sunday while Desormeaux, Velazquez and Leparoux left for the opening of Keeneland nearly two weeks ago. Leparoux is the early leader in the Keeneland standings with 15 wins, six more than Desormeaux second with nine and Velazquez in a tie for fourth.

Glittermans Cartel Among Choices in Deep Friday Allowance Feature

The duel for leading trainer honors at Gulfstream Park between Ken McPeek and Todd Pletcher will carry over into Friday’s eighth race allowance feature for 3-year-olds at one mile with McPeek sending out Brenda Stewart and partners’ Glittermans Cartel and Pletcher with an entry of Peachtree Stable’s Santana Six in the field of 11.

Glittermans Cartel won a hard-fought half-length decision last out to break his maiden over heavily favored Nicanor, Barbaro’s half-brother, going a mile on Mar. 29. A son of Champali, Glittermans Cartel just missed in his only previous start going 1 1/16 miles on turf on Feb. 11. Jockey Manoel Cruz will be aboard.

Leading jockey Jose Lezcano gets the call on Endymion and Chris DeCarlo will be atop Disguise for Pletcher after both ran a big race over the track in their last starts. Endymion finished a game second behind highly regarded Santana Six in a one-mile allowance on Mar. 28 in his first start since breaking his maiden at Meadowlands in October.

Disguise is a Dixie Union gelding purchased for $350,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales who won his only career start here on Mar. 21 by a half-length going six furlongs over a ‘sloppy’ track.

Other contenders in a surprisingly deep field for this late in the meet are Simone Development and Management’s San Valentino, Javier Castellano; Charles Fipke’s Jersey Town, E.T. Baird; and Korina Stable’s Sincero, Elvis Trujillo.

San Valentino is a son of Zavata trained by Tom Albertrani who looked good breaking his maiden last out going seven furlongs on Mar. 7 after finishing second in his career debut for an $80,000 claiming tag over the track on Feb. 6.

Jersey Town is a Kentucky homebred chestnut by Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown out of Grade 1 winner Jersey Girl. Trained by Barclay Tagg, the chestnut colt won his only start here going seven furlongs for a $25,000 claiming price on Mar. 14.

Sincero turns back in distance and drops down from a fifth-place finish behind Quality Road and Dunkirk in the Florida Derby (G1) on Mar. 28. Trained by Manny Azpurua, the son of Repent had finished third behind Dunkirk in an ‘a other than’ allowance on Feb. 19 in his previous start.

Completing the field for Friday’s feature are Lee Lewis’ Primary Witness, Joe Bravo; Trilogy Stable’s Tripofalifetime, Paco Lopez; Peacock Stable’s Texas Hedge, Junior Alvarado; Bowman Thoroughbreds’ Song Cycle, Manuel Aguilar; and Stride Rite Racing Stable’s Cinnamon Road, Jeffrey Sanchez.