Jockey Calvin Borel will be back aboard the charismatic Delightful Kiss when a full field of 12 older horses goes to the post for the OBS Classic at 1 1/8 miles, the richest of the four races run Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream, preceded by the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf, $300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Filly & Mare Sprint and $250,000 Dash.
Beginning with a victory in the Turfway Fall Championship (G3) in early September, the roan/gray son of Kissin Kris went on to capture the All American Stakes (G3) at Golden Gate Fields; finish a game fourth in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita and rally to a strong runner-up finish behind Einstein in the Clark Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs to complete his 2008 campaign.
Anderson brought Delightful Kiss back home to South Florida for the winter to point for Saturday’s race, but decided it wouldn’t hurt for the confirmed stretch-runner to have a tune-up in the Hal’s Hope Handicap (G3) on opening day, a one-turn mile race considered too short for his best. Sent off at 5-1, Delightful Kiss was last of 14 after a half-mile, but ran past them all to score by three lengths.
Other accomplished graded-stakes winners that will line-up against Delightful Kiss include West Point Thoroughbreds Macho Again, Kent Desormeaux; Dogwood Stable’s Atoned, Chris DeCarlo; and Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, Cornelio Velasquez.
Macho Again ships in from the Fair Grounds in New Orleans for trainer Dallas Stewart for his first start of the season after ranking among 3-year-old division leaders last year. The roan/gray colt by Macho Again won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, finished second to Big Brown in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico and won the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga among his best efforts.
Atoned also was a major player in the 3-year-old division last year for trainer Todd Pletcher, winning the Pegasus Stakes (G3) at Meadowlands last out on Oct. 24. The son of Repent had been a hard-luck horse earlier in his career, losing photo decisions when second in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct as a 2-year-old and the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) early last year.
Hey Byrn is another local favorite who obviously loves the Gulfstream surface, winning four of five starts here, most recently a one-mile allowance by 4¼ lengths on Jan. 11. Hey Byrn is a 4-year-old colt by Put It Back trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr. who won two allowance races and the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) here early last year. He also finished fourth behind Big Brown in the Florida Derby (G1).
Completing the field for the OBS Classic are Rolbea Thoroughbreds’ Finallymadeit, Herb and Ione Elkins’ Dream Maestro, Haras Santa Maria de Araras’ Palladio, Edmund Gann’s It’s a Bird, Barry Abrams and partners’ Medzendeekron, Carol Nyren’s Dry Martini, Georgiadis Fotis’ Nima’s Pad and Patriot Stable’s Famous Patriot.
Left on the ‘also-eligible’ list were Stronach Stable’s On Board Again, Marjorie Dye’s Solemn Promise and Stephen Campbell’s Pistol Pete Afleet.
Wild Promises Long-Distance Favorite for Filly & Mare Turf
Estate of Harry Aleo’s 5-year-old mare Wild Promises may rule the favorite for the Filly & Mare Turf as she brings a five-race stakes win streak into the 1 1/8 miles test from trainer Greg Gilchrist’s Northern California headquarters. Robby Albarado will fly in from New Orleans for the mount.
Long-distance travel appears to be no problem for the Florida-bred daughter of Wild Event as she made the same trip in mid-December to Calder for the My Charmer Handicap (G3) when she defeated a very strong field with Canadian champion Callwood Dancer second and Grade I winner Rutherienne third.
Wild Promises faces seven rivals in the Filly & Mare Turf with Madeline Auerbach and partners’ 4-year-old filly Bel Air Sizzle, a stretch-running threat with jockey Chantal Sutherland coming along to ride for trainer Barry Abrams. The California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat finished second in the Honeymoon Stakes (G2) at Hollywood Park and Del Mar Oaks (G1) in two of her best efforts last year.
Completing the field for the Filly & Mare Turf are Bombonato ands Guilherme’s Zip Trick, Live Oak Plantation’s Snow Cone, Gold Mark Farm’s Elusive Lady, Zayat Stable’s Zee Zee, Marion Montanari’s Julia Tuttle and J. Paul Reddam’s Peach Flambe.
Dearest Trickski & Mistical Plan Clash in Hill ‘n’ Dale Filly & Mare Sprint
The two top contenders for the Hill ‘n’ Dale Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs are California invaders Stronach Stable’s Dearest Trickski and J. Paul Reddam’s Mistical Plan, both 5-year-old Grade I-winning mares, leading a cast of 12.
Javier Castellano rides Mistical Plan for trainer Doug O’Neill in her first start since tiring to sixth in the Ballerina Handicap (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 24 after setting the pace to midstretch. The California-bred daughter of Game Plan had run off to a 5¾ lengths victory over Miraculous Miss in the Princess Rooney Handicap (G1) at Calder in her previous start and captured the Sunshine Million Oaks at Santa Anita early in 2007.
Dearest Trickski makes her second start for Stronach Stable and first for trainer Brian Lynch since being purchased for $650,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November Breeding Stock sales. Jockey Rene Douglas will be aboard the Florida-bred daughter of Proudest Romeo, who won this race last year at Santa Anita after scoring her biggest career victory in the La Brea Stakes (G1) in her previous start for trainer John Sadler.
Completing the field for the Hill ‘n’ Dale Filly & Mare Sprint are Estate of Harry Aleo’s High Resolve, Barry Abrams and partners’ Flashover, Robert Pastor’s Marina Ballerina, Martin Racing Stable’s Dubai Majesty, Kinsman Stable’s Unfolding Wish, Michael Bello’s Lovely Isle, Thor-Bred Stable’s Sekira, A.R. Solis, Jr.’s Peisinoe, Cloverleaf Farm’s Set Play and Mike Tarp’s American County.
You Luckie Mann & Backbackgone Meet in Wide-Open Dash
Kramer Stable’s Florida-bred and trained You Luckie Man and Gerson Racing’s Florida-bred but California-developed Backbackgone will be among the favorites in a field of 11 3-year-olds drawn for the Dash at six furlongs with jockeys Jermaine Bridgmohan and Robby Alabarado aboard, respectively.
You Luckie Mann ran very well to finish second to the brilliant performance by Notonthesamepage last out in the Spectacular Bid Stakes over the track and Dash distance here on opening day. You Luckie Mann is a roan/gray colt by Exchange Rate trained by Marty Wolfson and flashed brilliance winning the Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder by 11 lengths on Oct. 18 in his last start prior to the Spectacular Bid.
Backbackgone has won four of five starts for trainer Peter Miller, most recently capturing the Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on New Year’s Day. The son of Put It Back is trained by Peter Miller at San Luis Rey training center and won his first three starts at Bay Meadows, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita before suffering his only defeat when fifth in the Hollywood Prevue (G3) in late November.
Completing the field for the Dash are Bill and Vicki Poston’s Southern Exchange, Nathan Byers’ Billionaire Bob, R.L. Cole Jr.’s Ju Jitsu Jak, Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Gotmymojoworkin, American Equistock’s Echo West, Blahut Racing’s Kelly Leak, Wayne Rice’s player’s List, Gilbert Campbell’s This Ones for Phil and Eduardo Gamez’ All Saint.