Jockey Elvis Trujillo gets the call on First Passage in the 6 ½-furlong test for trainer Marty Wolfson, who also will be represented in the race by Denholtz Stable’s 5-year-old mare Indy’s Alexandra with jockey Luis Saez named to ride and Farnsworth Stable’s 4-year-old filly Exe with jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan aboard.
Shipped to Saratoga for the Test Stakes (G1) on Aug. 8, First Passage was sent off well-backed at 3-to-1, but acted up at the gate and missed the break. However, she rallied from last of eight in the far turn to finish fourth, beaten only 1 ¾ lengths for it all. First Passage didn’t run again until the Inside Information Stakes (G2) here on Mar. 14, but again had problems, hitting the gate and finishing a dull seventh in the field of nine.
Indy’s Alexandra won the first three starts of her career as a 2-year-old in 2007 at Calder and suffered her first defeat finishing fifth in the Old Hat Stakes (G3) here in her 3-year-old debut. The daughter of Flatter finished second in two allowance starts over the Gulfstream track early in 2009 and fourth in a one-mile allowance here on Mar. 10 coming back after 13 months on the sidelines.
Wolfson claimed Exe for $62,500 when she finished fifth last out going five furlongs on turf on Mar. 17. The 4-year-old roan/gray daughter of Exchange Rate won a restricted stakes on turf at Calder as a 2-year-old and placed in the Sweetest Chant over the Gulfstream course last year. She was making her first start since September at Belmont when claimed.
Another accomplished older rival in Friday’s race facing the Wolfson trio will be Kenwood Stable’s 7-year-old Annabill, a South Florida favorite with over $700,000 in earnings. Jockey Eddie Castro rides the daughter of Outflanker for trainer Steve DiMauro after she finished a game second in a 6 ½-furlong allowance here on Mar. 5 in her first start since mid-November.
Annabill was claimed for $25,000 early in her career at Calder by owner-trainer Milt Wolfson and won 15 races and most of her career bankroll for he and his family stable before being sold privately to her current connections last spring. Annabill ran well in good races last summer at Monmouth Park, but bids for her first victory since capturing the Emergency Nurse overnight at Calder almost a year ago.
Completing the field for the Harmony Lodge are Peter Mirabelli’s Cassidy’s Pride, Jose Lezcano; David Soifer’s Rising Fever, Joe Bravo; Silly Goose Racing Stable’s D’wild Ride, Paco Lopez; and Rayzin The Bar Stable’s Fearless Leader, E.T Baird.
Pletcher & Castellano Lead Gulfstream Standings into Final Weeks
Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a commanding lead in the Gulfstream Park standings going into the final weeks of the season that runs through Apr. 24 with 32 victories, 15 more than closest rivals Bill Mott and Nick Zito tied for second with 17 apiece, followed by Rick Dutrow fourth at 14 and Marty Wolfson fifth with 13.
Pletcher appears assured of a seventh consecutive Gulfstream meet championship as he will leave runners to compete through the end of the session, but leading jockey Javier Castellano has shifted his tack to ride in Kentucky and New York in the coming weeks along with several others on the riders’ leader board.
Castellano left with 50 victories, just two more than Paco Lopez at 48 and Lopez will continue to be based here through the rest of the meet. John Velazquez also has moved on and ranks third in the standings going into Wednesday’s program with 46, followed by Elvis Trujillo fourth at 40 and Julien Leparoux fifth at 39. Trujillo also stays here for the final weeks.