Trainer John Kimmel took the first steps toward helping Eli Gindi’s star 3-year-old colt erase the memories of a disappointing Hutcheson Stakes (G2) on Jan. 29 with a five-furlong breeze Thursday morning at Gulfstream Park.
After finishing last of six runners in his first start of the year, the son of Lemon Drop Kid is encouraging his trainer a rebound is coming in the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) here on Feb. 28.
Kimmel was especially happy with the fractions Break Water Edison posted in the workout, noting the Nashua Stakes (G3)-winner got the last quarter-mile in 23 1/5 seconds according to his stopwatch. He was ridden by former jockey George Martens and went in company with 4-year-old colt Freedom Bay.
“I really liked the last quarter,” said Kimmel. “He even had to go wide at one point because the two of them came up on another horse and Georgie had to take him pretty well out there on the track.”
Kimmel and Martens, who won the 1981 Belmont Stakes (G1) aboard Summing and was the exercise rider for two other Belmont winners while working for the late Scotty Schulhofer, are both pretty sure they know what went wrong in the seven-furlong Hutcheson. They blame the inside post position drawn by Break Water Edison and Kimmel does not want a repeat in the one-mile Fountain of Youth.
“Every time he’s drawn inside he hasn’t run really well,” said Kimmel. “Georgie used to gallop Lemon Drop Kid and he said he was always an inconsistent horse until they put blinkers on him and he hated to be down inside. If I drew the rail again I’d have to look at other options.”
Break Water Edison has yet to race around two turns, but Kimmel is not particularly worried about making that move yet. He’s also not concerned about the likely competition expected in the next round from stakes winners such as Spectacular Bid victor Notonthesamepage and Sunshine Millions Dash champ This Ones for Phil, each with gaudy speed figures earned in sprint races this season.
“Big speed figures earned in sprint races mean nothing to me,” he said. “It’s good for me because it means there will be a lot of speed in the race and the pace scenario should be pretty good. The main thing I want to see in this race is for him to keep his focus, finish up and stay tuned to what we’re trying to do.”
Kimmel will also send Gindi and Sam Kassin’s Fast Tigress in Sunday’s $125,000 Coconut Grove for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The daughter of Hold That Tiger overcame a rough start and traffic during the race to win an allowance over the course on Jan. 15.
“She fits in there and is doing great,” said Kimmel. “She’s got great flesh on her and has been training well. She really likes the lifestyle up there at Payson Park. The fillies really seem to like it up there and she sure looks good right now.”
McGaughey Eyes Sophomore Scene with Imperial Council
Twenty years ago, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was preparing the Phipps Stable’s 1988 Eclipse champion Easy Goer at Gulfstream Park for a campaign that would include victories in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) and a thrilling rivalry with Sunday Silence.
McGaughey will take his first and likely only shot this year on the 3-year-old scene with Sequoia Racing’s Imperial Council Saturday in what promises to be a competitive and closely watched 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park.
The Kentucky-bred son of Empire Maker broke his maiden impressively in his second career start last October at Belmont Park after fighting eventual Hutcheson Stakes (G2) runner-up Hello Broadway to a neck decision in his debut at Saratoga six weeks earlier.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said McGaughey Thursday morning. “It’s a good spot to start back and he’s been doing well all winter up at Payson (Park).”
Imperial Council is one of six Triple Crown nominees in the first-level allowance race and also one of six runners making their first starts of 2009. McGaughey thinks highly of his charge and sees this race as a first step, but he’s not looking past the race quite yet.
“His next race might be right back in an ‘a-other-than,” he jokingly said pointing to the rivals Imperial Council will face who already have stakes experience. “We’re hoping to get by this one and see what the options are. Hopefully, he will run well and we can start looking.”
Wednesday Triple Sends Desormeaux to Lead in Standings
Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode three winners Wednesday at Gulfstream Park to break a tie for the lead with Julien Leparoux in the rider standings going into the program. Leparoux avoided a shutout on the day winning the last race as this season’s highly-competitive title chase continues with eight riders within striking distance.
Desormeaux has 27 wins to 25 for Leparoux, followed by Alan Garcia third with 21 and four others tied for fourth at 19 apiece – Jose Lezcano, Edgar Prado, John R. Velazquez and Cornelio Velasquez. Defending meet champion Eibar Coa ranks eighth with 18 victories.
Lezcano remains one short of the 1,000 career victory milestone. The 23-year-old native of Panama is named on mounts in six of the nine races here Thursday.
Ken McPeek sent out Sr Henry for a mild upset victory over favorite Stevil in Wednesday’s featured eighth race allowance to extend his lead in the trainers’ standings with 15 wins, six more than nine-time Gulfstream champion Bill Mott second with nine.
Todd Pletcher has led the Gulfstream meet the last five years and is beginning to pick up momentum with a win Wednesday to move into third in the standings with eight tallies, followed by three others tied for fourth with seven each – Marty Wolfson, Peter Walder and Wesley Ward.