HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold have teamed for unprecedented success in the annual Florida Sire Stakes, visiting the winner’s circle 17 times in the series restricted to 2-year-olds sired by accredited Florida stallions.
Blessed with a strong contingent for Saturday’s $1.3 million third leg of the Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the owner/breeder and trainer figure to make strong bids to add to their record total in the $500,000 My Dear Girl Division for 2-year-old fillies and the $500,000 In Reality Division for colts and geldings.
Although he has confidence in the respective abilities of his juvenile trainees, Gold is hardly counting on a victory or victories in the third leg of the series. Gold has reason to like his chances for continued success with the likes of Abercorn, Brighton Lane and Fellowship in the In Reality and Ballet Diva and Silent Prayer in the My Dear Girl, but Saturday’s assignments present new challenges that have prompted the veteran trainer to take a wait-and-see attitude.
The My Dear Girl and the In Reality will both be run around two turns at 1 1/16 miles, which will be a new hurdle for the juveniles that only had to negotiate one turn in the six-furlong Desert Vixen and Dr. Fager and the seven-furlong Susan’s Girl and Affirmed in the first two legs of the Florida Sire Stakes series.
“It’s a question mark. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a horse doesn’t want to go that far, so we’ll see. We’re stepping into uncharted waters,” Gold said. “The company is probably going to be tougher, so it’s going to make for a good day of racing.”
Ballet Diva and Silent Prayer have already demonstrated their respective quality in this year’s FSS series. Although Ballet Diva suffered her first career defeat in the Desert Vixen Aug. 8, the daughter of Hear No Evil rebounded with a length victory in the Susan’s Girl Sept. 5. Silent Prayer finished a length behind her stablemate in the Susan’s Girl but finished three-quarters of a length ahead of her while finishing second behind It’s High Time in the Desert Vixen.
Abercorn closed with a rush to miss catching Tribal Drama by a neck in the Affirmed Sept. 5 after bypassing the Aug. 8 Dr. Fager, in which Brighton Lane finished third and Fellowship came in fifth. Abercorn’s stablemates finished out of the money in the Affirmed.
While the distance of the Florida Sire Stakes’ third leg may cause concern over a juvenile’s ability to carry his/her talent around two turns, it also provides hope that an underachieving juvenile at sprint distance may suddenly flourish with the added yardage.
“We’re all in the same boat,” said Gold, who also saddled Dogwood Trail (Three Ring Division) and Twotwentyfive A (Prized) for victories in the FSS new series for 3-year-olds this year. “We just have to wait and see.”
Jacks or Better and Gold have pulled off three FSS division sweeps with Awesome Feather (2010), Jackson Bend (2009) and Fort Loudon (2011) with their respective victories at 1 1/16 miles. There will be no FSS sweeps this year, so the two-turn challenge will present no added pressure, but Gold envisions that increased pressure may come from out-of-town shippers.
“The competition will be tougher. I’m expecting to see new faces, because that’s too much money to pass up,” Gold said. “Five hundred (thousand dollars) is five hundred. You can’t pass up purses like that.”
The My Dear Girl and In Reality will be accompanied on Saturday’s 12-race program by two FSS stakes for 3-year-olds, the $150,000 Foolish Pleasure for colts and geldings and the $150,000 Meadow Star for fillies, both at 1 1/16 miles.
Saturday’s First Race Post Time is set for 12:45 p.m.