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Gulfstream News & Notes
Domino Weighs Options for Black Onyx
Sterling Racing’s promising 2-year-old colt Black Onyx breezed a half-mile in 48 4/5 Thursday morning at Gulfstream Park as he continues preparation for his 3-year-old debut, which could come as soon as Tuesday, New Year’s Day in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at one mile.
“We’re considering that race. He’s doing great,” said trainer Carl Domino. “However, he’s only run twice and he’s ‘a other than’ (allowance condition). If we can get an allowance for him around two turns I’d love to do that first and then go on to the next big stakes race. He’s really come around. When we first got here he just wasn’t his usual self, but now he’s settled in like if we were still at Belmont.”
A son of Rock Hard Ten, Black Onyx ran twice in New York finishing second going 1 1/16 miles in his debut on Oct. 11 and breaking his maiden at a mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 11 in his second start, both races contested around one turn.
‘Difficult’ Cheimon Returns in Tough Allowance Saturday
Most horsemen racing at Gulfstream Park in the winter are aware that there are few easy spots in allowance races, even ‘a other than’ events such as Saturday’s ninth race for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf with a wide-open field 11.
Among the likely choices will be Overbrook Farm and Andrew Farm’s 3-year-old Cheimon making her first start since finishing a respectable fourth in the Boiling Springs Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on June 23.
“I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy spot, but it's time to get her going,” said trainer Liz Gray of the chestnut daughter of Corinthian. “She’s very difficult and tough to saddle. She’ll be schooling at the third race today (Thursday). We tried to run her one more time after her last race, but I had to scratch her because she was so bad in the paddock. We just had to stop and give her time, hopefully to mature.”
Cheimon (pronounced K-Mon) broke her maiden over the Gulfstream course in late January while making her third career start. She was beaten less than four lengths for it all in the Boiling Springs following another good try when fourth in the Little Silver Stakes. Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. has the mount Saturday.
One of Cheimon’s chief rivals in the race will be Frank Jones, Jr.’s 3-year-old Kentucky homebred filly Marlin Mission, trained by Dale Romans, a mentor for Gray as his longtime assistant. A daughter of Strategic Mission, Marlin Mission is a half-sister to Tapitsfly, a multiple Grade 1 winner of nearly $1.5 million for the same connections before being retired after capturing the First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
A roan/gray daughter of Tapit, Tapitsfly won the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita in 2009. Tapitsfly won two of five starts at Gulfstream, including the Honey Fox Stakes (G2) in March following a tough loss when third in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) in January, beaten a head for it all.
Marlin Mission may rule the favorite in Saturday’s $54,500 allowance test after finishing a close-up second in each of her last two starts at Keeneland in October and Churchill Downs in November. In three starts here last winter she finished fourth, third and second in maiden special turf tests before breaking her maiden at Churchill in late June with all of her seven career starts going two turns on turn.
Popular Giveaways Sunday and New Year's Day
Gulfstream offers its guests two popular giveaways this coming week. On Sunday, Dec. 30, Gulfstream will give out key chains or money clips to anyone with the purchase of a program. On New Year's Day, Gulfstream will hold one of its most popular giveaways - a bottle opener that plays the call to post - with the purchase of a program.