Phipps Stable’s 5-year-old Kentucky homebred Boisterous is one of the most accomplished turf stakes runners in South Florida this winter and will get his 2012 campaign started in a 1 1/16 miles turf allowance at Gulfstream Park Sunday with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer Shug McGaughey
“The distance (1 1/16 miles) is short of his best, but with this rain the course may have some more give to it for a closer to have a chance,” said McGaughey Thursday afternoon. “I needed to get him started and didn’t want to go a mile-and-a-half (nominated for next Saturday’s Pan American Stakes).
A son of Distorted Humor, Boisterous closed out his 2011 campaign with victories in the nine-furlong Knickerbocker Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park in mid-October and 11-furlong Red Smith Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 5. In another good performance at Belmont in July he finished third to Cape Blanco in the 11-furlong Man o’War Stakes (G1), the latter going on to be voted Eclipse champion of the division.
Boisterous faces five rivals in Sunday’s race, including P and G Stable and Off The Hook’s 4-year-old ridgling Turbo Compressor with leading jockey Javier Castellano to ride for leading trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Halo’s Image finished a close-up third last out behind Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28.
The form of that race flatters Turbo Compressor as Ron the Greek came back to win the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on Mar. 3 and ‘Macho Man’ won last Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2). However, Turbo Compressor will be making his first ever start on turf. He has won four of 10 starts, including a 10-length romp in the Carl Rose Classic at Calder in November prior to the Sunshine Millions.
Another solid contender with graded turf stakes form in Sunday’s race is Lori and George Hall’s 6-year-old Sleepless Knight with Jose Lezcano named to ride for trainer Kelly Breen. The son of War Chant ran a big race to finish second, a half-length behind Boisterous in the Knickerbocker last fall and lost another tough decision when second by less than a length behind Teaks North in the Monmouth Stakes (G3) in June.
Completing the field for Sunday’s race are Michael Bruder’s Guys Reward, Rajiv Maragh; Stella Perdomo’s Forte Dei Marmi, Julien Leparoux; and Lael Stable’s Kindergarden Kid, Edgar Prado. Blackacre Farms’ Flatter This was entered ‘main track only’ by trainer Kathleen O’Connell.
Plesa Takes ‘Joy’ in Quest for Personal Milestone
Scatter Joy made an eye-catching racing debut on Feb. 18, but trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. says Gulfstream Park fans haven’t seen anything yet from Trilogy Stables’ 3-year-old.
“He absolutely has shown a ton of talent, and I think you’re going to see a better horse (Saturday) than when he broke his maiden,” the veteran South Florida trainer said Friday morning.
Scatter Joy, a son of up-and-coming stallion Scat Daddy, will make the second start of his career in Saturday’s third race. He’ll likely need to make a step forward to prevail in the one-mile optional claiming allowance, in which he will meet Stat, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt who finished second behind Union Rags in the Saratoga Special (G2) last summer.
Scatter Joy bumped with another horse at the start of his six-furlong debut before grabbing the pacesetter’s role through swift fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 2/5 and drawing away to win by 7 ½ lengths under Paco Lopez.
Did his trainer expect such a dominating performance from Scatter Joy first time out?
“In all honesty, yes,” Plesa said. “He trained like something out of the ordinary.”
As dazzling as the maiden-breaking performance was, Plesa said there certainly is room for improvement.
“He’s a kind of horse that, more than most, will need a little more seasoning, because he really doesn’t know what it’s about,” Plesa said. “He did all that on natural ability.”
Scatter Joy was gelded in order to temper his ‘difficult’ behavior and bring out that natural ability.
A mainstay on the South Florida circuit, Plesa is nearing a personal milestone. The 62-year-old trainer entered Friday’s program just four wins away from No. 2,000.
“It’s not something you think about until it comes. Then, when it comes, you say to yourself, ‘A lot of hard work and tough times got you to that point.’ That’s certainly the case here,” said Plesa, whose stable also summers at Monmouth Park. “I’ve had a lot of great owners and people who have worked for me. It’s been a team effort, and we’ll be thankful when it’s over.”
Wolfson Sends Out Duo in Honey Fox Sunday
Trainer Marty Wolfson sent out Team Valor’s mare Sambacarioca to win the Honey Fox Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park in 1994 when the race was known as the Joe Namath Handicap and will have two chances in Sunday’s renewal with Michel Jean Zerolo’s 4-year-old Louvakhova and Farnsworth Stables’ 4-year-old Entrustment, the latter making her first start since a private purchase.
Louvakhova is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Maria’s Mon but made the first six starts of her career in France with one win and five seconds before coming to Wolfson at Calder last fall. She was very impressive winning the Frances A Genter Stakes (G3) on turf there on Oct. 15 by 4 ¼ lengths in her American debut.
Louvakhova came back with a very disappointing last of 12 finish in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) over the Gulfstream course on Jan. 7, but was back on her game winning a one-mile allowance race last out on Feb. 4.
“She was up too close to the pace in the Marshua’s River,” said Wolfson Friday morning. “Also, that race was a mile-and-a-sixteenth and I think her limit is a mile. She’s a very nice filly. I’ve had Entrustment since October after they (Farnsworth) bought her privately. I just wasn’t in any hurry to run her. We’ll see where we are with her in this race.”
Entrustment is a daughter of Forestry that will be making her first start since finishing a close-up sixth in the H.C. Ramser Stakes (G3) on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 16. In two good tries in turf stakes at Hollywood Park last spring and summer she finished fourth in the Honeymoon Handicap (G3) in June, beaten a length for by the winner, and fourth in the American Oaks (G1) in July when beaten a neck for it all.
Nominations for Seven Florida Derby Day Stakes Close Saturday
The $1 million Florida Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds on Sat., Mar. 31 is the climax of the Gulfstream Park season and the outstanding program that afternoon will also include six other stakes, five of them Graded, led by the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares.
Nominations to the seven stakes, including a final closing for the Florida Derby will be on Sat., Mar. 17. Also closing are the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3), $100,000 Appleton Stakes (G3), $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) and $70,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes.