‘Diamonds’ Ready to Sparkle in Sugar Swirl Stakes
An impressive second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in November, Dust and Diamonds looms as a prohibitive favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Adena Springs Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Odds-on favorite Groupie Doll defeated the 4-year-old daughter of Vindication by four lengths in what may have been the most dominant of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. However, Dust and Diamonds finished nearly four lengths clear of the third horse.
Formerly trained by Steve Asmussen for Padua Stable and Richard Santulli, Dust and Diamonds will make her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher in Saturday’s six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. TNT stud purchased Padua’s homebred for $900,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November Sale.
“We got her right after she was sold at the November sale and she came in and has trained well,” Pletcher said. “She’s settled in nicely and has trained forwardly.”
Prior to her gusty performance against Groupie Doll, who came back to lose a photo finish to Stay Thirsty in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct, Dust and Diamonds had won three straight races, including the Gallant Bloom (G2) at Belmont.
“She’s very professional, straightforward, all business kind of filly,” Pletcher said.
Matz Hoping to Find Another Good One at Palm Meadows
Mornings at Palm Meadows Training Center are considerably less hectic this season for Michael Matz, who trained high-profile Triple Crown prospect Union Rags amidst a swirl of attention last year.
“He was a good horse, that’s for sure,” said Matz, who saddled Union Rags for victories in the Fountain of Youth and Belmont Stakes before his colt’s retirement. “It was hard losing a horse like that, but we’ll just have to keep looking for another one.”
Matz doesn’t have any accomplished 2-year-olds in his stable thus far this year.
“I’ve got some late-developing 2-year-olds. They’ve worked OK, but no standouts yet,” he said. “I just have to keep hoping one of them will be.”
Matz will saddle a trio of 2-year-olds for starts this week that he hopes will lead to bigger and better things during the meeting.
Hard to Handle, who was purchased for $270,000 at the 2-year-olds-in-training sale at Timonium last spring, is entered to make his second start in Thursday’s sixth race. The son of Hard Spun was well backed at the windows for his debut at Laurel on Oct. 24, when he broke slowly and was rushed up early before faltering late.
Matz is hoping good things from a pair of 2-year-olds, Whitfield and Fredricksburg, on Saturday’s card.
Whitfield, a Louisiana-bred son of Private Vow, will be making his first start in the U.S. and on dirt in Saturday’s second race after racing twice on turf in England.
“They bought him at a 2-year-olds-in-training sale and shipped him to England, but they thought he’d be better on dirt than turf and brought him back here,” Matz said. “He’s worked nicely. This colt is a real gentleman.”
Fredricksburg has shown a fondness for turf in four lifetime races that include a maiden score at Saratoga and a third-place finish in an overnight stakes at Belmont Park last time out. The son of Speightstown has been entered for the Saturday’s seventh race, a mile entry-level allowance.
“We’re going to try him on dirt,” Matz said. “He’s stakes-placed on the turf. He’s worked well on the dirt. We’ll see how he runs on Saturday.”
Lopez To Return To Riding This Week
Jockey Paco Lopez, injured Sunday when his horse fell during the running of the second race, is expected to resume riding Thursday or Friday, according to his agent Cory Moran.
"Paco is doing great," Moran said. "He was released from the hospital Sunday with a clean bill of health after the doctor's examined him. I wanted him off his mounts (Wednesday) because I hadn't seen him, but I just had breakfast with him and he's ready to ride. So he'll start back either Thursday or Friday."