Lochte, Golden Rifle Meet in $75,000 Mr. Steele
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL- After proving her class with a strong runner-up effort in the Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, Miller Racing’s Kiss to Remember will tune up for a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in Sunday’s $75,000 Added Elegance Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The seven furlong event, one of 11 races on Gulfstream's Sunday program including the $75,000 The Mr. Steele, has drawn a field of eight including Jerry Bozzo's Flutterby, second in the Princess Rooney (G2) in July.
A daughter of Big Brown and the Irish Open mare Taft Lil Queen, Kiss to Remember has yet to turn in a poor showing since being purchased by Miller Racing and transferred to the South Florida-based Marty Wolfson in June. After winning two stakes at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old, the 4-year-old chestnut seamlessly transitioned to the east coast and graded stakes competition, finishing third in the Princess Rooney in her Gulfstream Park debut before easily running off with the Monroe Handicap in Hallandale on July 25. From there, it was off to the Spa, where Kiss to Remember came just a length short of a Grade 1 victory in the Ballerina.
“She should have won,” Wolfson said of the effort. “She lost her stick, she stumbled out of the gate. The rider lost the whip at a crucial part of the race at the quarter pole. Unbridled Forever (the winner) came on the outside of her, but she still fought and got beat a length.”
That effort was enough to convince Wolfson that his charge was deserving of a chance at the Breeders’ Cup. The seven-furlong Added Elegance gives Kiss to Remember a desirable five weeks to prepare for racing’s Championship Weekend.
“She’s doing good,” Wolfson said. “She’s probably going to run in the Breeders’ Cup, but I want to see how she does [before then].”
In just three months in his shed row, Kiss to Remember has shown Wolfson nothing but ability. The conditioner says the filly has plenty of versatility and could have a future on grass or routing, though for now she will focus on sprinting.
“We didn’t buy her for that much money; she’s just really nice,” Wolfson said. “She’s very nice and she likes turf, too. But I don’t want to put her on it yet. She goes two turns, too, but I think she’s pretty good going shorter.”
Kiss to Remember’s class will be tested yet again, however, when she faces Flutterby in the Added Elegance. The daughter of Congrats was the runner-up in the Princess Rooney, 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Kiss to Remember. She has since run off with Gulfstream’s Gold Mover Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths on Aug. 22 for the 94-years-young Bozzo, who also bred the filly.
“She’s doing well,” Bozzo said. “I’ve had her on cruise control since the last race, waiting for another opportunity. We’re right on step here. She’s always been good, but she’s been a little more settled ever since I moved my stable to Gulfstream [from Gulfstream Park West earlier this year]. She’s eating well, she’s happy, and she trains forwardly every day. It’s reflected in her running.”
An often-nervous filly, Flutterby is set to remain in South Florida and is unlikely to contest the Breeders’ Cup.
“I did a lot of soul searching,” Bozzo said. “I was invited to half a dozen graded stakes races all around the country, and I decided that she just was a little too nervous still to travel that far. I expect to stay here.”
The 4-year-old also won the Sea Lily Handicap by 9 ¼ lengths in June in wire-to-wire fashion. As she normally does before her races, the filly blew out three-eighths Friday morning, getting the distance in 36.45 seconds, the fastest of 12 workers.
Six other competitors were entered for the Added Elegance. Among them are Hanalei Hailey, who has won two of her last three starts for trainer David Fawkes, most recently an allowance on Aug. 27; My Miss Venezuela, who returns to Gulfstream off an allowance score at Louisiana Downs in July; and Miss Darla, who rebounded from a fifth-place effort in the Gold Mover to win an allowance on Sept. 4. Sunset Silhouette, Quinnkat, and the stakes-placed Quiet Hour, a Wolfson-trained stablemate of Kiss to Remember, round out the field.
Golden Rifle Seeks to Build on ROI in Mr. Steele Stakes
Miller Racing LLC’s Golden Rifle, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper who has already outperformed expectations, will seek his third straight victory and second consecutive stakes score in Sunday’s $75,000 Mr. Steele Stakes on a mile turf course.
Trainer Marty Wolfson claimed the chestnut for $25,000 out of an optional claimer at Gulfstream last December, in which Golden Rifle finished a troubled third. The South Florida-based conditioner thought the horse had talent, but he admits he did not expect him to provide quite as healthy a return on investment that he has. In seven starts this year, Golden Rifle has won three races, including the Eight Miles East Stakes on August 8, earned a spot in the starting gate of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1), and amassed earnings of almost $100,000.
“He’s a nice horse,” Wolfson said.“We claimed him, but we never thought he’d develop like that. I knew he was useful but didn’t know he’d win [a stakes].”
After holding his own in a pair of allowance contests during the Championship Meet, Golden Rifle has hit his best stride this summer. He took a pair of allowances, one in April and another in May, in wire-to-wire fashion, before turning in his best performance to date in the Eight Mile East, in which he sat just off the pace of the graded stakes-winning Joes Blazing Aaron before running him down to post a length victory.
“He came from off the pace, which is good, because he used to have to go right to the front,” Wolfson said.
Golden Rifle will face eight competitors in the Mr. Steele, including Lochte, winner of the 2014 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1). The 5-year-old will be looking to recapture some of his best form, as he has not won since taking an allowance at Tampa Bay Downs in March, but he is a four-time winner at Gulfstream. The gelding most recently finished a close third, beaten only half length, in the Aug. 23 Cliff Hanger (G3) at Monmouth Park.
“The trip didn’t develop for us [in the Cliff Hanger],” said trainer Marcus Vitali, who will also saddle Dreams Cut Short in the Mr. Steele. “He made the best of the position he was in early on, and he gave a game effort. The trip means a lot on the grass. That horse just gives you all he’s got every time, and sometimes the trips work out, and sometimes they don’t.”
“He’s doing excellent,” he added. “I’m very excited to run him [at Gulfstream]. He’s a horse for course.”
Also in the Mr. Steele field are Siete C, on a three-race winning streak over the Gulfstream Park lawn since breaking his maiden in April for Gustavo Delgado; Padilla, an allowance winner in his most recent start on Sept. 4; and the GSP Storming Inti, most recently fifth in the Turf Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream on July 5. Father of Science, Gala Award, Starship Zorro, and Lynx (main track only) complete the field.