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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

MR. CASSE WANTS MR. STEELE

Edited Gulfstream Staff Release  Mark Casse looks doubly tough to beat in Saturday’s $95,000 Mr. Steele, in which the Hall of Fame trainer will be represented by a multiple graded stakes-placed veteran campaigner and a maturing in-form 4-year-old colt.

            The Mr. Steele, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up, will co-headline Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Big Drama, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.

            Win for the Money will make his 2024 debut after finishing his 2023 campaign with a second-place finish in the Autumn (G2) and a third-place finish in the Valedictory (G3) over Woodbine’s Tapeta course. The 5-year-old gelded son of Mohaymen, who is owned by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation, started twice at Gulfstream last year, losing a photo finish over the Tapeta Course before winning an optional claiming allowance on turf. He went on to win an optional claiming allowance and finish fifth in the Arlington Million (G1) at Colonial Downs before closing out his season at Woodbine.

            “Mrs. Weber likes to give her horses time. We just gave him some time,” Casse said. “He ran very hard in the Valedictory and he ran well in the Autumn. His race in the Arlington Million was pretty good, I thought. Our thoughts were to give him a little break and bring him back fresh. This is a way to stay in Florida and get a race into him.”

M Racing Group LLC’s Eyes On the King, multiple stakes-placed at 3, has made a strong impression this year in three starts at Tampa Bay Downs, where the son of Street Sense lost a photo before scoring back-to-back optional claiming allowances on turf.

“His races over at Tampa were very good. He’s a beautiful horse on the cusp of showing us that he’s a really good horse,” Casse said. “This will be a big challenge that he’ll partake in.”

            Edwin Gonzalez is scheduled to ride Win for the Money for the first time Saturday, while Emisael Jaramillo will get reacquainted with Eyes On the King.

            Harrell Ventures LLC’s Main Event is expected to be involved in the early pace Saturday while trying to duplicate a front-running victory in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Dec. 30.  The 5-year-old son of Bernardini, who went on to finish off the board in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and Mac Diarmida (G2), is set to make his first start for trainer Fernando Abreu.

            Edgard Zayas has the call on Main Event.

            Me and Mr. C, a three-time stakes winner on turf and Tapeta last season, will seek to recapture his winning form in the Mr. Steele for trainer Michael Maker. Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s 7-year-old gelding is coming off a third-place finish in the Turf Classic for Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs.

            Hector Diaz Jr. is slated to ride Me and Mr. C for the first time Saturday.

            Gentry Farm’s Eldon’s Prince, a multiple-stakes winner on Gulfstream turf; Rachid Racing LLC’s Marwad, who seeks relief following three straight graded-stakes appearances; in addition to Gods Glory Stables and Matthew Ciamei’s Love Me Not and Abel Rangel’s Benvolio, a pair of last-out optional claiming allowance winners; round out the field. 

            Friday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Estimated at $225,000

            The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool is expected to grow to an estimated $225,000 Friday at Gulfstream Park.

            The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, featuring a seemingly wide-open five-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up on turf in Race 8, followed by a five-furlong maiden special weight race on Tapeta for 3-year-olds and up.

            Amador Sanchez-trained Abrir Caminos, a multiple stakes-winning Chilean-bred 4-year-old, is scheduled to make his U.S. debut while facing eight rivals, including Joe Orseno-trained Portofino, the 8-5 morning-line favorite who lost his last in a photo finish.

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