Beethoven and Borel Team for Holy Bull Breeze

With a busy afternoon ahead of him, jockey Calvin Borel got his Sunshine Millions day started early with a breeze aboard John Oxley’s 3-year-old colt Beethoven at Gulfstream Park with a return planned for next week to ride the colt in the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3).

Trainer John Ward indicated he was happy with the son of Sky Mesa’s 1:01 3/5 drill and declared him ready for his 2009 debut.

“I thought it was a very good work,” said Ward. “He came on well at the end of it and really galloped out strong. Calvin was happy with it. If he’s happy with it, I’m happy with it.”

Beethoven will bid for his third straight victory and second straight stakes win in the 1 1/8 miles Holy Bull. He scored a neck victory last out in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.

The colt’s running style during the work was similar to his running style in his most recent races. He gradually picked up speed up the backstretch, stuck close to the rail on the turn, and kicked into gear nicely while straightening into the stretch. His jockey lived up to his reputation as Calvin ‘Bo-Rail.’

“This is a colt that really fits Calvin,” said Ward. “I told him ‘this is your kind of horse. He gives me heart attacks, but he’s your kind of horse.’ Calvin never rushes a horse away from the pole in a workout. He loves to wait and wait. It makes me worry, but he and this horse eventually turn it on.”

It was the second time Borel was in town to work Beethoven. His previous trip to South Florida came on Jan. 3 and was coupled with a victory aboard Hobeau Farm’s Delightful Kiss in the Hal’s Hope Handicap (G3). Those two were scheduled to team up again in the $1 million OBS Sunshine Millions Classic later in the afternoon.



Velazquez Leads Competitive Field in Jockey Title Chase

Two-time Gulfstream Park riding champion John R. Velazquez is off to a good start in the early going of this year’s meet with 14 winners after 15 days, one more than Jose Lezcano second and two more than Eibar Coa and Kent Desormeaux tied for third with 12 apiece.

Velazquez won Gulfstream titles in 2004 and 2006. Coa was the 2003 champion and repeated last year. Coa will miss Saturday’s card at Gulfstream to accept mounts in Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita before returning to ride here Sunday.

Close-up behind the top four in a logjam at the top of the jockeys leader board are Cornelio Velasquez fifth with 11 tallies and Alan Garcia and Elvis Trujillo one more back with 10 each. Velasquez won the 2007 Gulfstream meet trophy. Trujillo joins Coa to ride at Santa Anita this afternoon.

Ken McPeek leads the trainers’ standings early on after sending out eight winners, three more than Peter Walder second with five, followed by a group of six others tied for third with four victories each.