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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Edited Gulfstream Staff Release – It remains to be seen if he can replicate his father’s success on the racetrack but, so far, Speak Easy is off to a good start.

            Owned by Siena Farm and breeder WinStar Farm, the 3-year-old Constitution colt launched his career in style with a professional 1 ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on the Jan. 27 Pegasus World Cup (G1) undercard at Gulfstream Park.

            In a race that produced last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage, Speak Easy covered the distance in 1:21.96 over a fast main track, stalking outside 3-2 favorite Victory Avenue under Irad Ortiz Jr. before taking a short lead into the stretch and drawing clear.

            “He came out of it really well,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He seemed to handle it all in stride and looked good. We were pleased with him, especially coming out of the one-hole first time going seven furlongs. It can be difficult, but he broke great and allowed Irad to put him in a perfect stalking position. They were running right along and just kept going. It was a big effort.”

            Speak Easy had six timed breezes last spring and summer for Pletcher at Belmont Park before needing some time off. He returned in mid-November at Palm Beach Downs, where he worked eight times for his unveiling.

            “We had him going pretty well last summer and was getting close to a race when he had a minor setback, so we gave him some time. Thankfully, he came back in good order,” Pletcher said. “The fact that he had a pretty good foundation last summer I think helped in preparing him for his debut. He’d always trained really well, but I think that performance even exceeded our expectations.”

            Pletcher also trained Constitution who, like Speak Easy, went unraced at 2 and debuted with a maiden special weight victory in January 2014 going seven furlongs at Gulfstream. From there he won an optional claiming allowance and the Florida Derby (G1), returning the following year to capture the Donn Handicap (G1), precursor to the Pegasus World Cup.

            “I think we’ll just kind of see how he trains and leave all our options open,” Pletcher said of Speak Easy’s next start. “If we get the opportunity to run in an allowance race, that could be an option. I guess running as fast as he did, if he had to go into a stake, I suppose you could make an argument for that, as well.”

                 Hades has Trainer Joe Orseno Looking Back and to the Future

            D J Stable LLC and Richard Cotran’s Hades has Joe Orseno looking back at his highly successful training career, at the same time, dreaming about what the future may bring.

            Hades will put his undefeated record in two starts on the line in Saturday’s $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, where 2023 2-year-old champion Fierceness will make his highly anticipated sophomore debut in the 1 1/16-mile prep for the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby (G1).

            “It became fun in his second race at the top of the stretch, when he changed leads and just accelerated away from those horses. It was a wild moment for me, and I’ve had some wild moments with some big horses,” Orseno said. “He took me right there and I thought, ‘This horse could bring us back to some of the big races we always want to be in.’”

            Orseno has been in and won many of Thoroughbred racing’s biggest races, including the 2000 Preakness Stakes (G1) with Red Bullet, the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with Macho Uno and the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with Perfect Sting.

            Hades overcame bumping at the start of his Dec. 9 debut at Gulfstream Park, closing from well back to get up in time to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream. The 3-year-old gelding, who was purchased for $130,000 at the 2022 OBS April sale, had a much easier time of things in his return in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance, shaking off early pressure while setting the back and drawing away to an eight-length romp.

“When we bought him, we had one desire in that we thought he was going to be a horse that could go long. That’s what we were all hoping for, so that’s why we went the extra bid or two on him,” said Orseno, who has trained six Grade 1 winners. “In the sale, he had a fantastic work. but he had a tremendous gallop-out, which really attracts me. Any horse can go an eighth of a mile or a quarter-mile, but the ones that can’t gallop out I stay away from. He just kept going and going, and he just always appeared that he wanted more ground.”

Orseno is enjoying Hades’ early success with his longtime clients, Leonard Green’s D J Stable LLC and Cotran, who had never owned a horse together before teaming on the winning bid to buy Hades.

“DJ Stable has been a longtime client of mine, as has Robert Cotran. Probably 30 years plus, but they never really knew each other,” Orseno said.

Hades, 6-1 on the morning line, will break from the rail post position under Paco Lopez, who was aboard for his two promising victories.

                       Colorado Cruiser Making East Coast Debut in $125K Swale

            Following four starts in Southern California capped by a maiden win in his juvenile finale, CTR Stable and Lady Sheila Stable’s Colorado Cruiser will make his East Coast debut for new trainer Jack Sisterson in Saturday’s $125,000 Claiborne Farm Swale at Gulfstream Park.

            By Catalina Cruiser, a five-time Grade 2 winner at distances from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, Colorado Cruiser stretches out from six to seven furlongs for the Swale after a gutsy nose maiden special weight triumph Dec. 26 on opening day of Santa Anita’s Classic Meet and will race without blinkers for the first time.

            “His last race at Santa Anita it looked like he was hitting the wire with a lot of run left and he galloped out strong. The owner wanted to run him in the Swale. We’re taking the blinkers off because I do think in time he’ll stretch out, as well. I felt the next logical step from six is to go seven, so we’ll see how he goes on Saturday,” Sisterson said. “He’s a beautiful horse and he does everything right.”

            The Swale for 3-year-olds will mark the stakes debut for Colorado Cruiser, who has had three timed breezes for Sisterson since mid-January at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. Most recently, he went a half-mile in 49.35 seconds Jan. 27, sixth-fastest of 58 horses on the day.

            “We backed him up to a half for his last work just to freshen him up for the race and he did it well within himself. He wanted to do more and that’s what we wanted to see going into the race,” Sisterson said. “California is so speed-dominant out there, and he breaks and gets quickly into stride. He trains like he doesn’t need blinkers. I could be wrong for Saturday, but we’ll take them off with the intention of eventually stretching him out further.”

            Colorado Cruiser, rated at 5-1 on the morning line, drew Post 2 in a field of nine. Oisin Murphy has the mount.

            One race earlier, Sisterson will saddle Qatar Racing’s Milliat in the $175,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Milliat was a debut winner on the all-weather in Ireland last fall before coming to the U.S., where she overcame a slow start to be second, beaten a neck, in the 7 ½-furlong Wait a While on the Gulfstream turf Dec. 9.

            “She was training like she was going to put forth a good performance, and she did,” Sisterson said. “Typical European, she didn’t break as sharp as the rest of the field, and it might have cost her, but we were very happy with her performance, and she came out of it in great shape. We opted to just skip the [six-furlong Glitter Woman Jan. 7] and just point for this race on Saturday.”

            Murphy will ride Milliat from Post 7 of eight in the Sweetest Chant, for which she is rated second at 5-2 on the morning line.

            “I’d like her to [come from off it],” Sisterson said. “I don’t want to put any speed into these turf-type horses. You see it happen a lot with these European horses that come over. They simply don’t break as sharp in Europe, and they don’t go as quick early. She’ll break a lot better this time. She knows what’s coming. But I’m not going to tell Oisin what to do. He’s worked her and he knows her, and he’ll put her in the best position possible to win.”

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