The dust wasn’t completely settled from Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park when trainer Todd Pletcher threw another 3-year-old on to the stage in a big way as the Wertheimer Brothers’ Affirmatif rolled to a nine-length victory in his career debut.
The Kentucky homebred son of Unbridled’s Song won the one-mile maiden turf contest in 1:34.27 – faster by .04 than the time run by 5-year-old Pletcher-trained stablemate Twilight Meteor two races earlier in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3).
The win was also the first at Gulfstream for jockey Chris DeCarlo since his return from shoulder surgery.
“That felt great,” said DeCarlo about both winning and Affirmatif’s performance. “He was looking around at everything and not knowing what he was going to do in the post parade. He was a little green early in the race, but then he settled in and ran like an old pro. It felt great to be back. It felt great to win.”
Pletcher saw Starlight Racing Partners’ Take the Points finish second to The Pamplemouse later that evening in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. He is also expected to send another Unbridled’s Song colt, Dunkirk, into the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) Mar. 28 in Dunkirk, the 2-for-2 rising star for the Coolmore syndicate of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier.
Connections Seek Explanation for Break Water Edison’s Recent Performances
Eli Gindi’s Break Water Edison was scheduled for X-rays, a head-to-toe once-over and likely a nuclear scan as trainer John Kimmel seeks to explain why the 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid had to be pulled up in the stretch of Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).
The winner of the Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on Nov. 3 has now finished last in his two stakes attempts at Gulfstream Park, and the way he ran Saturday under jockey Eibar Coa has Kimmel, a licensed veterinarian, concerned about what the tests will find.
“Eibar said he seemed to put himself in a great position until they got into the turn,” said Kimmel Sunday morning. “He switched his lead and immediately took himself off the bridle and kept switching back so that Eibar thought he hurt himself. He tried to protect the horse and the horse seemed pretty willing to pull himself up.
“We don’t know yet, but if these X-rays don’t show anything, I have a feeling the nuclear scan will,” continued Kimmel. “A lot of times the X-rays will come back clean, but the scintigraphy will light up bruises on the cannon bone. I hope that’s not the case, because that’s 60-90 days right there, and that would pretty much wipe out his season.”
Scintigraphy is a diagnostic test in which a two-dimensional picture of a body-radiation source is obtained through the use of radioisotopes.
Notonthesamepage Bleeds; to Focus on Sprints and Miles
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Spectacular Bid Stakes winner Notonthesamepage suffered pulmonary bleeding during Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and will be sent to a hyperbaric chamber and pointed to shorter races in the future.
“He bled pretty bad,” said trainer Wesley Ward Sunday morning. “It’s something we’ve been fighting with him and it came out again yesterday. It’s unfortunate, but I think we’ve got the makings of a pretty good miler. That’s where we will look from here.”
Notonthesamepage was an impressive front-running winner of the Spectacular Bid on Jan. 3. With a fast pace expected in the Fountain of Youth, Ken Ramsey, Ward and jockey Elvis Trujillo decided to experiment with taking back off the pace. Ramsey now regrets that call.
“I told them let’s see if he can take back, but it now looks like that put stress on him,” Ramsey said. “We’ve studied why horses bleed like this and it’s always the stress. We thought maybe we could take him back and send him a signal when it was time to go, but instead it just stressed him out. It was bad timing.”
Ramsey and Ward have brought the son of Catienus back from a similar situation successfully in the recent past.
“We started him out at Keeneland last year and that’s when we first saw he had a bleeding problem,” said Ramsey. “We got him back, cleaned him up and he set a track record at Churchill next time out. We’ll try that again and see about a race like the King’s Bishop (G1 – Saratoga, Aug. 29) and the Met Mile (G1 –Belmont Park) next year.”
Ramsey also added that his oft-injured 6-year-old sprinting star Talent Search again has some filling in a knee and will not make the trip to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen (G1) on the Dubai World Cup program on Mar. 28.
Smooth Air Drills for Gulfstream Park Handicap
Mount Joy Stables’ 4-year-old Florida homebred colt Smooth Air worked a sharp six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 at Calder Race Course Sunday morning as he continues preparation for his next start in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), to be run at one mile on Sat., Mar. 14.
Smooth Air is trained by veteran horseman Bennie Stutts Jr. and finished a game second by a half-length in the Tallahassee Stakes going a mile on turf at Gulfstream on Feb. 7 in his first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) behind Raven’s Pass at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
A son of Smooth Jazz, Smooth Air goes into the Gulfstream Park Handicap with a 13-5-3-3 record. Last year he won the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and finished second to Big Brown in the Florida Derby (G1) in two starts over the Gulfstream main track. In his only out-of-the-money performance before the Breeders’ Cup, he finished 11th behind Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after a rough trip.
Desormeaux & Leparoux Tied for Lead in Rider Standings
With two winners on Saturday’s program at Gulfstream Park, Julien Leparoux moved into a tie with Kent Desormeaux for the lead in the jockey standings with 35 victories apiece as each bids for a first meet championship here.
Desormeaux is riding full-time here for the second season in his Hall of Fame career after years among the top riders in California while Leparoux is making his debut as a regular after a record-breaking season leading the standings at the Churchill Down fall session.
Alan Garcia, also spending his first winter season here, ranks third in the standings with 32 wins, followed by Edgar Prado fourth with 29. Four others are tied for fifth with 27 tallies each—John. R. Velazquez, Cornelio Velasquez, Jose Lezcano and Eibar Coa.
Prado, Velazquez, Velasquez and Coa have won Gulfstream titles. Coa is the defending champion.
Ken McPeek continues atop the trainer standings after sending out 19 winners, but Todd Pletcher closed ground Saturday with two to be second at 14 as he bids for a sixth consecutive trophy here. Nine-time Gulfstream leading trainer Bill Mott is third with 11, followed by Nick Zito and Peter Walder tied for fourth with 10 each.
Choragus Takes Next Step Up in Wednesday Allowance
Lothenbach Stable’s 4-year-old homebred filly Choragus has won three of four starts to begin a promising career for trainer Ian Wilkes and will be well-backed to take the next step up in Wednesday’s fourth race allowance feature going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Julien Leparoux gets a return call on Choragus in the field of seven fillies and mares after they teamed up for a sharp allowance score over the track and distance on Feb. 4.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Harlan’s Holiday, Choragus was trained last year by Chris Block and won her first two starts sprinting in Chicago in the spring at Hawthorne and Arlington Park. She suffered her only loss finishing third in the Sweetest Chant Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack at Arlington on July 5.
Other solid contenders in Wednesday’s feature will Denholz Stable’s 4-year-old filly Indy’s Alexandra, with jockey Elvis Trujillo to ride for trainer Marty Wolfson, and Pedro Monterrey Jr. aboard Timothy O’Toole’s 5-year-old mare Saratoga Tango for trainer Myra Mora.
Indy’s Alexandra is a daughter of Flatter with three wins and three seconds in eight starts, including two runner-up efforts at this meet. She finished gamely last out in a one-mile allowance behind Striking Tomisue after setting the pace to mid-stretch and the latter came back to capture a small stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Saratoga Tango gets a little class relief after finishing fifth and fourth in graded-sprint stakes at the meet. The daughter of Successful Appeal was fifth behind Game Face and Any Limit in the First Lady Stakes (G3) on Jan. 18 and fourth in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15, which Any Limit won with Game Face second.
Completing the field for Wednesday’s feature are Zayat Stable’s Zee Zee, Cornelio Velasquez; Gregory and Marilynn Magreta’s Adorable Jane, Kent Desormeaux; Silly Goose Racing Stable’s D’wild Ride, C.H. Marquez Jr.; and Capilupi Racing’s Nicksappealing Lady, Chris DeCarlo.