The 5-year-old son of Is It True racked up the frequent flier miles last year along with his trainer and co-owner Brian Koriner, who took advantage of the best horse he has ever trained to travel to racing’s biggest stages. Along the way the Florida-bred scored an upset victory in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) on a ‘sloppy’ at Belmont Park in late September.
“You have to hope it’s just the track,” said Koriner. “He’s doing really good in his training. He hasn’t run well at Santa Anita and we weren’t going to ship, but he just came out of the last race so good, we’re heading there hoping to get him in the right direction again.”
Black Seventeen has three wins from six starts on dirt tracks, including two victories on wet surfaces in the Vosburgh and the 2007 Carry Back Stakes (G2) at Calder.
Black Seventeen finished first in his two initial starts on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track (he was disqualified from one victory), but has since gone 0-4 on Tapeta, Polytrack and Pro-Ride. He faded to seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) on Oct. 25 and tired to third in the El Conejo Handicap (G3) in his last two starts.
“I think the track just doesn’t suit him,” said Koriner. “He’s a big horse with a big behind and he just doesn’t seem able to dig into it.”
Jockey Clinton Potts will also return to Gulfstream to ride Black Seventeen. Potts wintered in South Florida earlier this decade before moving his base to California. The Vosburgh victory was his first career Grade 1 score.
Another Smooth Work for C.S. Silk
William Pacella and George, Barbara and Fred Bonomo’s C.S. Silk will start her 3-year-old campaign in the $150,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G2) on Fri. Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park in the first step of what her connections hope places her in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) this spring at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Dale Romans, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won the Arlington Washington Lassie (G3) in September at Arlington Park in Chicago before setting the pace and finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
C.S. Silk drilled five furlongs Thursday morning in a ‘bullet’ 1:00 flat in her third work since finishing second in the one-mile Delta Princess Stakes (G3) at Delta Downs on Dec. 5 in Louisiana. Romans is looking forward to returning to the seven-furlong distance of the Forward Gal.
“We hope that race will be a starting point,” said Romans. “Hopefully, she will stretch her out from there, but we are taking it one race at a time. She went very, very well. I’m extremely pleased with her right now.”
Romans will also try to repeat the Sunshine Millions feat he pulled off in 2006-07 when he trained Joint Effort to win the Sunshine Millions Oaks here and Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita in consecutive years. He will send Mike Tarp’s American County – last year’s Sunshine Millions Oaks winner – into the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint here on Sat., Jan. 24.
“She’s (American County) training very similar to the way she did coming into her race here last year,” said Romans. “She’s grown up a little bit since then and gotten a little bigger.”
A 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Gibson County, American County made three other starts in stakes last year without much success, including a 38-length loss in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) going 1 1/8 miles here last March.
A ninth-place finish in the Franklin County Stakes on turf at Keeneland in October convinced Romans the filly’s future was on the dirt, and American County’s form improved, winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs followed by a fourth-place result in an even stronger allowance in her season finale.
“She was knocked out for a little bit last summer, but she put together some good races once we got into the fall,” said Romans. “She’s coming into the race nicely.”
Smooth Air Passes on OBS Sunshine Millions Classic
Mount Joy Stable’s homebred 4-year-old Smooth Air was prominent among the multiple graded-stakes winners under consideration for the $1 million OBS Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park, but trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. will delay the colt’s season debut.
“He’s doing just fine,” said Stutts Thursday morning. “He just isn’t ready to go a mile-and-an-eighth off the layoff against these kind of horses at this point. He’ll work again Sunday and there is a one mile turf race in about two weeks that would fit well. He ran great when he won his only start on turf at Calder last year (Needles Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths).
“The first stakes goal could be the one-mile race on the main track ($300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on Mar. 14). That’s a Grade 2. That’s far enough ahead to plan right now. It’s a long season with plenty of opportunities to come.”
Smooth Air emerged on the national stage here at about this time last year, winning the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and finishing second to Big Brown in the Florida Derby (G1). The son of Smooth Jazz had a rough trip when checking in 11th of 20 behind Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
After an impressive victory in the Ohio Derby (G2) at Thistledown in late May, he missed much of the summer with nagging foot problems, but returned to finish a good third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 1. Stutts used the Needles Stakes on turf at Calder as a final tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 where he finished seventh, beaten 5 ¼ lengths for it all by Raven’s Pass.
Wolfson Ponders Options for Frolic’s Dream
Trainer Marty Wolfson has several stakes runners from his powerful Calder-based stable on target for upcoming stakes engagements, including Edmund Gann’s 4-year-old Ikigai entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park and Kramer Stable’s You Luckie Mann and Dare To Dream Farm’s Frolic’s Dream pre-entered in Sunshine Million races next Saturday (Jan. 24).
You Luckie Mann is set for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash to be run here, but Frolic’s Dream will have to fly to California to run in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks to be run this year at Santa Anita. You Luckie Mann breezed an easy half-mile in 50 1/5 Wednesday morning at Calder and Frolic’s Dream was timed the same distance in 52.
“We still haven’t decided whether to send her out there or keep her here for the ($150,000) Forward Gal Stakes (G2) the next week (seven furlongs on Jan. 30),” said Wolfson Thursday morning.
“We want to see how the race in California shapes up. If we go to Santa Anita we’ve got (Garrett) Gomez to ride her. She should have won the Old Hat. If you switch the post positions with the winner (2 and 7), our filly probably wins it.”
Frolic’s Dream is a roan/gray Florida homebred daughter of Smoke Glacken and won her first three starts at Calder, including the Cassidy Stakes by 12 ¾ lengths in mid-October and the seven-furlong Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies by 1 ¼ lengths on Nov. 8. That sent her into the Old Hat Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 4 undefeated.
After an awkward start from post 2, Frolic’s Dream under regular rider Jermaine Bridgmohan was trapped inside behind pace-setter and favorite Elusive Heat. In the stretch run she was forced out over the heels of that rival and Gemswick Park before being beaten a head for it all as Gemswick Park won by a nose and Elusive Heat held on for second in a thriller.
You Luckie Mann is a roan/gray son of Exchange Rate and finished second in the Spectacular Bid Stakes behind the sensational performance by Notonthesamepage here on opening day Jan. 3, a day before the Old Hat, but will not have to face that rival in the Dash. You Luckie Mann had won the Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder on Oct. 18 by 11 lengths in his previous start.
Ikigai is a 4-year-old son of Whywhywhy that faces the biggest challenge of his career in the Mr. Prospector when his rivals will include Group\Grade I winners Kelly’s Landing and Black Seventeen. Ikigai has won four of five starts since arriving into Wolfson’s barn this summer after finishing fourth and seventh in two starts at Churchill Downs in the spring to begin his career.
“He’s very fast, but he doesn’t need the lead,” said Wolfson. “In his last race, he was several lengths off the pace after the first eighth but made the lead by the first call after a quarter. The only time he got beat since I’ve had him, he was eliminated at the start (seventh in the Radar Love overnight on Nov. 22).”