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Farthest Land Gets Second Start Back, Castellano Extends Lead
By Jack Will
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 6-year-old gelding Furthest Land won a one-mile allowance race over the Gulfstream Park turf course on Mar. 5 in his first start since June, and will be among the choices in an open $66,400 allowance on Sunday over the course and distance, a race likely to yield a contender or two for the $100,000 Appleton Stakes (G3) to be run on Florida Derby Day, Sun., Apr. 3.
Jockey Julien Leparoux gets a return call on Furthest Land for trainer Mike Maker, who put in the claim for the son of Smart Strike for the Ramseys for $35,000 at Belmont Park in October of 2008. Furthest Land went on to score his biggest career victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita in the fall of 2009.
Furthest Land remained in training at Santa Anita last winter after the Breeders’ Cup victory before an unfortunate trip to Dubai a year ago, finishing last of 14 in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). After one more outing finishing last of sixth in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs in June he was sent to the sidelines.
Furthest Land faces several other accomplished stakes-class runners on the comeback trail this season, notably J. Mack Robinson’s 6-year-old Cherokee
Artist with Ramon Dominguez to ride for trainer Graham Motion and Lansdon Robbins III and Sam Delaney’s 6-year-old Brazilian-bred gelding National Kid and John R. Velazquez aboard for trainer Rick Dutrow.
Cherokee Artist finished a game third a length behind Furthest Land in the Feb. 12 allowance in his first start since checking in last of six in the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 30. The Kentucky homebred by Cherokee Run finished a game second by a head early in 2010 in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) over the Gulfstream course behind Courageous Cat.
National Kid makes his first start since a game runner-up effort behind Get Stormy in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) at Saratoga on Aug.27 following an allowance score over the Monmouth Park course on July 5. The son of Dodge has won three of only five career starts, including an ‘a other than’ allowance on turf here early in 2009.
Completing the field are Live Oak Plantation’s Successful Mission, Javier Negrete’s Wingedlie, J D Farm’s Bim Bam, E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Giant Chieftain, Korina Stable’s Sincero and Robert LaPenta’s Our Edge was entered to run ‘main track only’ by trainer Nick Zito.
Castellano Extends Lead in Gulfstream Standings
Jockey Javier Castellano rode a pair of winners on Thursday’s nine-race card at Gulfstream Park to stretch his lead in the standings to four over rival John R. Velazquez at 44-40 while sidelined Paco Lopez remains third at 38 and appears likely to return to the saddle sometime next week.
Lopez is the defending Gulfstream meet champion and held a commanding lead in the standings until suffering an injury to an elbow in a spill here on Feb. 18. Jockeys Jose Lezcano and Rajiv Maragh are tied for fourth with 34 victories each.
Several leading jockeys based at Gulfstream this winter will make a day trip to Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday for mounts in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) – Alex Solis (Striding Ahead for Bill Mott), Alan Garcia (Free Entry for Chad Brown) and C.H. Marquez, Jr. (Moonhanger for trainer Bruce Alexander).
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out WinStar Farm’s Brethren as the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby and Repole Stable’s Eclipse champion Uncle Mo in the $100,000 Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Saturday where he continues to hold a commanding lead in the standings as he bids for an unprecedented ninth consecutive title.
Pletcher has 24 wins, 10 more than closest rivals Nick Canani and Wesley Ward at 14 apiece. Chad Brown ranks fourth with 13 tallies, Giuseppe Iadisernia and David Fawkes are tied for fifth at 12 each and Nick Zito sixth with 11.
Midnight Thunder Posts Fourth Victory of Meet
Midnight Thunder, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Formal Dinner, became the first horse to win four races at this Gulfstream Park meet when he scored a game half-length victory in Thursday’s seventh race under jockey E.T. Baird for owner-trainer Larry Rivelli, but went to a new home for the third time at the session after being claimed for $6,250.
Midnight Thunder won races on Jan. 5 and Feb. 3 when entered for a $6,250 tag for trainer Juan Vasquez, claimed from the second by trainer Braulio Lopez, Jr., who lost him for the same price to Rivelli after winning a third start here on Feb. 21. Trainer Donna Green took Midnight Thunder on Thursday for owner Dan Hurtak.