Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager, $100,000 Desert Vixen Mark New Era
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – For the first time in its 32-year history, the Florida Sire Stakes will be hosted by Gulfstream Park this year, starting with the runnings of the $100,000 Dr. Fager and the $100,000 Desert Vixen on Saturday’s 11-race program.
While the two stakes promise to provide lucrative opportunities for horsemen and bettors alike Saturday, the change in venue has also generated renewed optimism for the future of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association’s series for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida.
“This Saturday promises to kick off an exciting new era for showcasing Florida-breds in the Florida Sire Stakes series. The partnership with FTBOA and Gulfstream Park and their horsemen has elevated the purses to the highest since 2009 and the participation eligibility has grown by 19%,” said Lonny Powell, FTBOA CEO and Executive Vice President. “This culminates into an exciting weekend of history-making action as we create future champions of our sport.”
Formerly known as the Florida Stallion Stakes and previously hosted by Calder Race Course, the Florida Sire Stakes will offer six stakes worth a total of $1.4 million in its first year at Gulfstream. The Dr. Fager and the Desert Vixen (fillies) will be followed on Sept. 6 with the $250,000 Affirmed and the $250,000 Susan’s Girl (fillies) and on Oct. 4 with the $350,000 In Reality and the $350,000 My Dear Girl (fillies).
The Florida Sire Stakes has a storied history since being inaugurated in 1982, providing a springboard for eight Eclipse Award champions among its long list of distinguished performers. Smile, Brave Raj, Not Surprising, Holy Bull, Big Drama and Awesome Feather all went on to become national champions after entering the FSS winner’s circle. Unbridled and Hollywood Wildcat also went on to attaining Eclipse glory after competing in the historic series.
The FTOBA has recently adopted the new slogan, Where Future Champions Compete, for the Florida Sire Stakes as it embarks on a new era at Gulfstream.
Gulfstream’s commitment to returning the series to prominence has generated enthusiasm in the Florida Thoroughbred community, including the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“The horsemen are extremely excited about the renewal of the Stallion (now Sire) Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Over the past few years, the Stallion Stakes series lost a lot of its luster as Calder chose not to market the races to their full potential,” FHBPA President Phil Combest said. “It's our hope that this initial series at Gulfstream begins to bring these races back to the prominence they once held. We're looking forward to South Florida being once again regarded as the ‘Two Year Old Capitol’ of the country.”
Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold have held a position of prominence in the Florida Sire Stakes for several years, posting 12 victories in FSS races, including division sweeps with Awesome Feather (2010), Jackson Bend (2009) and Fort Loudon (2011). Sing Praises, the recent winner of the Birdonthewire Stakes at Gulfstream, is set to represent Jacks or Better and Gold in the Dr. Fager, along with stablemates Of Course and Social Media. Sing Praises has been rated as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the six-furlong open division.
Rated second and third, respectively, in the Dr. Fager morning line are Jaiden’s Best (3-1) and Wayne’s Way (7-2), who’ll represent breeder/owner Gil Campbell and trainer Kathleen O’Connell, who have combined for several Florida Sire Stakes victories over the years, including Scandalous Act’s division sweep last year. O’Connell will also saddle Lynne Martin-Boutte’s Taama in the Dr. Fager, which is carded as the 10th race.
Jacks or Better and Campbell will each be represented by two runners in the Desert Vixen, a six-furlong stakes for fillies that is programmed as the fourth race. However, Stonestreet Stables’ Katie’s Kiss, trained by David Fawkes, has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite.