A 5-year-old son of Holy Bull, City of Weston captured the Blue Heron in his first start off the claim for trainer Peter Walder, who acquired the horse out of a $62,500 optional claimer at Gulfstream on March 15, in which the eight-time winner and $528,220-earner finished third. Walder was drawn to the horse’s back class (The flashy grey won the Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) in 2013) and thought he could help the horse regain his graded stakes-winning form.
“He’s an old class horse. You don’t make $500,000 by accident,” Walder said. “He’s run against some really nice horses over the years, and he’s obviously got some talent. I just think the change of scenery has done him good. He’s spoiled to death in our barn, and I think he likes it.”
So much so, that City of Weston was able to run down the gritty, multiple-stakes winning Grande Shores and earn another stakes score in his first start for his new connections.
“He was awesome [in the Blue Heron]. He was really good. I was really happy with the way he went,” Walder said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t here to see it [in person]. The owner and I were in Dallas with (stablemate) Sr. Quisqueyano for the Texas Mile (G3), but we made quite the ruckus watching him run.”
City of Weston has worked twice in preparation for the Parrot Key, most recently breezing four furlongs in 47.77 seconds last Saturday, May 30. That came after a four-furlong gate work on May 23 in which the Florida-bred was timed in 50.83 seconds.
“I worked him out of the gate a couple weeks ago, and he didn’t work that good, but he was stuck behind the gate for about a half-hour before he ever worked,” Walder said. “There were a bunch of horses in front of him waiting to come out of the gate, and it was late in the morning and about 90 degrees, and he got all hot and sweaty. But he came back and worked really well on Saturday. I was much more pleased with the way he went.”
Walder hopes to use the Parrot Key as a prep for the Smile Sprint (G2), part of Gulfstream’s Summit of Speed program on July 5.
“That’s been the goal ever since I claimed the horse,” Walder said. “He won a Grade 3 as a 3-year-old, and he’s a nice horse. There’s no doubt about that. If we can get him back to that form, then he’s definitely a serious sprinter.”
Grande Shores, who has finished first or second in 14 straight starts for trainer Stanley Gold, will look to turn the tables on City of Weston in the Parrot Key. The 7-year-old notably finished second by a neck to the multiple graded-stakes winning Valid in Gulfstream’s Fred Hooper Stakes (G3) during the Championship Meet in February. He also won the Claiming Crown Rapid Transit Stakes last December.
The Kirk Ziadie trained duo of Trev and Master Blender will also contest the Parrot Key. Singanothersong, Awesome Union, and Black Diamond Cat complete the field.
R Free Roll Set to Make Turf Debut in Tiger Lily Handicap
Averill Racing and Silver Oak Stable’s R Free Roll, winner of the Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) last summer at Saratoga, will make her turf debut in Saturday’s $60,000 Tiger Lily Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
The 5-year-old daughter of Rockport Harbor is a six-time stakes winner who most recently captured Gulfstream’s Orange Blossom Handicap on April 4, using her trademark early speed to score a comfortable gate-to-wire victory over the Grade 1 stakes-placed Little Alexis. She will be ridden in the Tiger Lily by Edgard Zayas, who on Saturday will ride his first mounts since fracturing his hand in a spill on April 22.
R Free Roll will face 13 competitors in the 5-furlong Tiger Lily, including the top four finishers from Gulfstream’s Gracie Handicap on May 16, Little Michelle, Fascinante, Joann’s Wildcat and My Sweet Dove. The stakes-placed Katie’s Kiss, a recent allowance winner on April 18 for David Fawkes; and the Martin Wolfson-trained duo of Kipling’s Joy and Lori’s Store are also entered. The field is rounded out by Woo Pass, Ultimate Shopper, Sweet Forestry, Turf Fast, Jamie’s Dancer, and Awesomendensome.