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El Jefe Grande Back at Gulfstream for Winning Combination
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – When owner William McCarty sent El Jefe Grande to David Fawkes last winter, the South Florida-based trainer had reason to hope that the 3-year-old gelding would find the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park.
“We’ve had a lot of luck together. He’s owned horses since 2000. He’s won six races, and I’ve won five of them for him,” Fawkes said.
El Jefe Grande hadn’t done much in four official starts and an off-the-board finish in another that was declared a ‘no race’ to back up his new trainer’s hope. The gelded son of Silver Train was winless in Southern California and Fair Grounds, even with a drop into $30,000 claiming company.
Yet, the Fawkes-McCarty combination once again ended up in the winner’s circle in short order with the switch to turf. After finishing second in his turf debut for Fawkes at Gulfstream in a maiden claiming race, El Jefe Grande stepped up to maiden special weight company to win by three lengths with a sweeping five-wide move.
“From when we got him, looking at his form, he’s come a long way,” Fawkes said. “The horse is training good and looking good.”
El Jefe Grande returns to Gulfstream Park Saturday for a start in the $75,000 Showing Up, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds on turf.
“He likes the turf course here,” Fawkes said. “And I don’t know how he’d handle the dirt track here.”
After shipping to Kentucky following Gulfstream’s winter meeting, El Jefe Grande finished fourth in an off-the-turf allowance over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface before finishing second in a pair of turf allowances at Churchill Downs.
“We didn’t have a lot of luck at Churchill in general,” Fawkes said. “He had a race that he didn’t get the best of trips.”
Two starts back, El Jefe Grande raced three- and four-wide throughout the 1 1/16-mile race, in which he was carried out on the final turn and still only missed winning by a head.
Sr. Quisqueyano is by far the most accomplished horse entered in the Showing Up, having captured two stakes and finishing in the money in five others, including a runner-up finish behind Itsmyluckyday in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1.
The Luis Olivares-trained colt, rated second at 3-1 in the morning line, would be a formidable favorite in the event if conditions force the Showing Up to be moved from the turf course to the main track. However, should the race remain on turf, Sr. Quisqueyano, who has never raced on turf in 12 career starts, would force bettors to gamble on whether he can transfer his stakes-winning dirt talent to turf.
“We’ll probably run either way. I need to try him on the turf and see how he does on the turf,” said Olivares, whose Florida-bred colt has earned nearly $340,000. “I have to try him on the turf one time. You never know. If he runs good on grass, then I have options for both (surfaces).”
Sr. Quisqueyano has demonstrated versatility in his 12-race career, winning at distances of 4 ½ furlongs in his debut to 1 1/8 miles in the Calder Derby in April, as well as capturing all three starts over wet surfaces. Olivares has seen mixed results on turf with offspring of Exclusive Quality.
“There’s one in there for Rodolfo Garcia that’s running good on the turf,” said Olivares, referring to Showing Up entrant Boy of Summer, who has won four of eight on turf, two at Gulfstream. “I’ve had horses by the same sire that I tried on the turf, and they didn’t like it. But you never know. Some horses are different.”
Like Boy of Summer, Backseat Memories owns two victories at Gulfstream. The 5-2 morning-line favorite was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Humberto Toledo out of the second win of his career and has proven a worthwhile investment for owner Elena Arocha. The son of Johar has won three times for his new connections, including a stakes score in the $50,000 Mambo Meister.
Starship Zorro didn’t fare nearly as well at Gulfstream in three starts last winter, but the company he kept represented the top 3-year-old turf runners in the country. The son of Giant’s Causeway faced the likes of multiple-stakes winner Rydilluc and Lanes End victor Black Onyx.
“He’s a late bloomer and he’s getting better,” trainer Steve Dwoskin said. “He should be very competitive in there.”
After a brief freshening, Starship Zorro returned at Calder to finish a fast-closing second behind Backseat Memories before drawing off to a 2 ½ -length allowance score last time out.
“As he gets older, he’s going to get better the more he learns what the game’s all about,” Dwoskin said.
Rounding out the Showing Up field are Dr. Chase, who finished fourth in his turf debut last time out; Grand Tito, who broke his maiden on turf in his most recent start; and Saturday Special, who finished third in a Gulfstream allowance on July 7