Gulfstream News & Notes
Ritvo Has High Hopes for Pair of Juvenile Fillies
While she ponders a schedule for Mucho Macho Man’s highly anticipated 2013 campaign, trainer Kathy Ritvo is preparing a couple of promising 2-year-old fillies for starts likely during the early part of the 2012-2013 Gulfstream Park meeting that gets under way on Dec. 1.
Like Mucho Macho Man, Gadget Girl and Billboard Babe, who both showed talent while racing in New York during the summer, are owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
“They’re both really nice fillies,” Ritvo said during training hours recently at Gulfstream.
Gadget Girl, a daughter of More Than Ready, finished third behind two of the more highly regarded juvenile fillies this year, in her only race. She set a pressured and swift early pace in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga on July 25 before checking in third behind Teen Pauline and My Happy Face.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Teen Pauline set a track record for five furlongs while winning her debut in a blazing 56.53 seconds. The Rudy Rodriguez-trained My Happy Face came right back to break her maiden at Saratoga by more than 21 lengths before losing a narrow decision to then-unbeaten Dreaming of Julia in the Frizette (G1) at Belmont and winning the Tempted (G3) at Aqueduct.
Billboard Babe, a daughter of Johannesburg, finished third in her turf debut at Belmont in her second career start on June 29. She’s unraced since finishing off the board at Saratoga in July. Ritvo is also looking forward to Miss Suwanee’s next start, as long as the turf is firm. Also owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, the 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Greely broke her maiden by 3 ½ lengths over a firm Saratoga Turf in August before finishing off the board over a yielding course at Belmont in September.
Mucho Macho Man ran the race of his life in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, offering a winning effort while having to settle for a close second to Fort Larned. Engaged in a stretch-long duel with the pacesetting Fort Larned in the 1 ¼-mile race, the Kathy Ritvo-trained colt left it all on the track while being edged by a half-length.
“It was his hardest race, and he came out of it the best he’s ever come out of a race,” Ritvo said. “He’s doing great.”
Ritvo and Reeves Thoroughbred’s racing manager Finn Green are in the process of plotting a schedule for the 2012 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) and Suburban Handicap (G2) victor.
Gulfstream Veteran Tim Hills Gears Up for New Meeting
Trainer Tim Hills, a veteran of many seasons at Gulfstream, is training 26 horses on the grounds preparing for what he expects to be a “stronger than normal” meeting. Hills is hoping to run Just Playin Around on opening day in the $125,000 Emerald, one of seven races linked to the $850,000 Claiming Crown that will be hosted by Gulfstream for the first time.
“He hasn’t raced since he ran here in February but he’s been training really well,” he said.
Just Playin Around, who won a $25,000 claiming race over the Gulfstream turf before finishing fifth in a starter allowance on Feb. 15, has worked twice over the local main track, a bullet four-furlong breeze in 47 seconds and a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.28 Tuesday morning. Cosmic Energy, who blossomed into a promising turf performer during the summer after launching her career at Gulfstream last winter, should be a player in turf stakes for fillies and mares at the meeting.
“She won three in a row and then finished fourth in the stake at Keeneland. I gave her a month off, but she just came back. “She’s 3-turning-4, and I think she’s going to get better as she gets older.”
Cosmic Energy certainly got better with experience. It took her until her sixth start to break her maiden, but she did so with style, edging Bill Mott-trained Lily The Pink in a $85,000 maiden special weight race at Saratoga in July. She came back to win a $70,000 starter at Saratoga a month later and a $75,000 allowance at Belmont in September. She earned her short break after finishing fourth in the Valley View (G3) at Keeneland in October.
By Unbridled Energy, a young and obscure stallion standing in Pennsylvania, Cosmic Energy was purchased by Hills for owner Robert Susi for $22,000.
Sunshine State Nominations List Released
The first open stakes of the 2012-2013 meeting attracted 27 nominations. The $100,000 Sunshine State will be renewed on Sunday, Dec. 2, following the $850,000 Claiming Crown, the opening day highlight at will be restricted to horses that have raced in at least one claiming race. The seventh running of the seven-furlong sprint attracted a strong list of veteran stakes performers, including Little Drama, the recent Bold Ruler (G3) runner-up who is a half-brother to champion Big Drama; Fort Loudon, the King’s Bishop (G1) runner-up: and Bahamian Squall, the half-brother to multiple stakes-winner Apriority.
Giveaways Part of Opening Day Festivities
Gulfstream's Opening Day festivities this Saturday will include the popular Gulfstream Park calendar - featuring all of last year's stars and this season's stakes races - and the first of five commemorative pins that will be given out during the meet for those who purchase a program.