Gulfstream News & Notes
Mucho Macho Man Kept on Edge for Return
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s 5-year-old Mucho Macho Man worked a 'bullet' five furlongs in :58 3/5 Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park with regular exercise rider Nick Petro, Jr. Working for the second consecutive time in blinkers, Mucho Macho Man continues looking sharp for his highly-anticipated 2013 season debut in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic to be run Saturday, Jan. 19.
“He went very well,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo. “He worked in blinkers again, but we haven’t decided whether to use them for the race. He’ll have one more work. We’ll look at the weather to decide what day.”
Mucho Macho Man will be making his first start since his game runner-up effort behind Fort Larned in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The son of Macho Uno won the nine-furlong Sunshine Millions Classic here last year with Ron the Greek second to launch his 2012 campaign.
Big Blue Kitten on Target for Fort Lauderdale
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 5-year-old Big Blue Kitten was impressive winning a tough allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 8 by a head over Za Approval in his first start since finishing 10th of 11 in the Prince of Wales Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot meet in England on June 20.
“I was real proud of him,” said trainer Chad Brown Friday. “You never really know how they’ll come back from a trip like that. He’s on target for the Fort Lauderdale.” The $150,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G3) will be run at 1 1/16 miles on turf next Saturday, Jan. 12.
A Kentucky homebred by Kitten’s Joy, Big Blue Kitten emerged as a potential star on the rise in 2011 when he posted four straight victories after beginning his career in the claiming ranks, scoring his biggest victory in the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.
Prior to the trip to England last spring, Big Blue Kitten ran twice at Gulfstream, finishing third in an allowance race and a game third behind Get Stormy in the Gulfstream Park turf Handicap (G1). In one more start before the trip to England he finished second to Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan in the Ben Ali Stakes (G3) on Polytrack at Keeneland in April.
Brown was on hand at Gulfstream Friday to saddle Martin Schwartz’ 3-year-old filly Lemon Belle in the second race, a maiden special test at six furlongs restricted to Florida-breds, and she came through with a sharp victory rallying from last of five to score by five lengths under jockey Joel Rosario.
“It was a very good race for her, although you have to factor in that it was a significant class relief for her running in a small field against state-breds,” said Brown. “The other thing you could consider on her improvement today was that it was the first time she got to run on a truly fast track.”
A $400,000 Keeneland April 2-year-old purchase by Lemon Drop Kid, Lemon Belle is a half-sister to 2011 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle. In three previous starts Lemon Belle had finished sixth going six furlongs on a ‘good’ track at Belmont Park on Oct. 8, a well-beaten fifth trying a mile on a ‘good’ track at Aqueduct on Nov. 9 and ninth in a maiden special on turf here on Dec. 14.
Pants On Fire Possible for Hal’s Hope
Lori and George Hall’s 5-year-old Pants On Fire is a “possible” starter for the $100,000 Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) to be run Sunday, Jan. 13 at Gulfstream Park, according to trainer Kelly Breen, who is in New York this weekend to run the Halls’ 3-year-old Vegas No Show in the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G2) Saturday at Aqueduct.
“We just haven’t decided yet,” said Breen of the son of Jump Start, who finished sixth of seven as the odds-on favorite last out in the Delta Mile at Delta Downs in Louisiana Nov. 17. “He acted up in the gate and wasn’t ready for the start. He just galloped around behind the field from there.”
Winner of the 2011 Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds, Pants On Fire finished ninth of 19 behind Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his next start. In his only previous race at Gulfstream he returned from a seven-month layoff to post a very impressive allowance score here on March 3, winning by 4 ½ lengths over Hunter’s Bay while timed the mile in 1:35 1/5.
Cool Blue Red Hot Doubtful for Hal’s Hope
Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s 5-year-old Cool Blue Red Hot, who finished a strong third in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) here last year and was beaten 1 ¼ lengths for it all by Jackson Bend, is nearing his first start since then for trainer Angel Penna, Jr. at Palm Meadows.
“He’s doing very well and breezed (Friday) morning,” said Penna. “I haven’t ruled it out (Hal’s Hope), but I’m not sure he’s ready to come back off the layoff in such a tough spot. He pulled muscles in the race last year and it took a long time to heal, but we’re looking forward to him coming back this year.”
A son of Harlan’s Holiday, Cool Blue Red Hot breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 Friday morning at Palm Meadows. He had won a 1 1/16 miles allowance test at Belmont Park in mid-October of 2011 prior to his good try in the Hal’s Hope.
Leading Astray Could Give Block Milestone Victory
Trainer Chris Block will send out Team Block’s 4-year-old Illinois homebred filly Leading Astray as one of the favorites in Saturday’s $100,000 Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) and she could deliver a particularly notable victory for her trainer as his 1,000th career victory.
Block has had a long history of success as a Chicago-based horseman and more recently become familiar to Gulfstream fans with a small but very select string of allowance and stakes runners. His major victories here came with Giant Oak in the 2011 Donn Handicap (G1) and other stakes scored by filly and mare turf stakes stars Askbut Iwon’ttell and Never Retreat.
Another horseman based at Gulfstream this winter on a milestone watch is jockey Joe Rocco, Jr., who goes into Saturday’s card with 992 victories and named on six mounts for the afternoon.