Gulfstream News & Notes: 12.21.11
By Jack Will
Boys At Tosconova Continues Comeback in Friday Feature
Jay Em Ess Stable and partners’ Boys At Tosconova was expected to be a major player in the 3-year-old division early this year after having won the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and finishing second to Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in 2010. But ankle issues kept him on the sidelines for 11 months until finishing third in an allowance race at Belmont Park on Oct. 8.
After coming back to win a 6 ½ furlong allowance race Nov. 12 at Aqueduct for trainer Rick Dutrow, Boys at Tosconova is set to take his next step on the comeback trail in Friday’s ‘three other than’ optional/allowance feature at Gulfstream Park going one mile against five rivals with regular rider Ramon Dominguez in the saddle.
Boys At Tosconova was entered in last Saturday’s $60,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, but was scratched by Dutrow, who sent out 4-year-old Trickmeister for a brilliant score in his first start in 16 month to remain undefeated in five career starts.
“I hate running my horses against each other,” said Dutrow. “If he (Boys At Tosconova) shows up the way we want him to, and the way he’s been training, then we can point him to bigger races.” The son of Officer has won three of six starts with two seconds and a third.
Several other contenders in Friday’s race have Graded stakes experience including Frank Calabrese’s 4-year-old Where’s Sterling, second Oct. 8 by a half-length in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) going 1 ¼ miles. Jockey Paco Lopez will be aboard for trainer Nick Canani.
A son of Northern Afleet purchased for $50,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old sales, Where’s Sterling won the Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G3) at Monmouth Park in late August before the Hawthorne race and showed a liking for the Gulfstream track early this year when he broke his maiden going a mile in January and won a nine-furlong allowance in March with a second in between.
Another accomplished stakes runner bidding to get back on track in Friday’s race is Lori and George Hall’s 4-year-old Nacho Friend with Ryan Curatolo to ride for trainer Kelly Breen. The chestnut colt by Friends Lake tired to last of seven last out in the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
Nacho Friend showed promise as a 3-year-old in the summer of 2010 when second in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, third in the rich West Virginia Derby (G2) and second in the Smarty Jones Stakes that September at Philadelphia Park. He finished an even second in the Japan Racing Association Stakes at Laurel Park in September prior to the dull effort in the Ack Ack.
Completing the field for Friday’s race are Robert Harvey’s Hollinger, John Velazquez; Rapputi Stable’s Ribo Bobo, J.A. Garcia; and Henco Inc. and Peter Kohn’s Trust the Deputy, Ramon Silvera.
Stakes Tripleheader Set for New Year’s Weekend
The New Year’s holiday weekend will get off to a particularly fast start at Gulfstream Park this season with the renewal of the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at six furlongs to be run New Year’s Eve, Sat., Dec. 31, a race won early this year in mid-January by 2010 Eclipse champion sprinter Big Drama.
The Mr. Prospector will be followed on New Year’s Day, Sun., Jan. 1 by renewals of the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (G3) for fillies on their 3-year-old birthdays to be run at six furlongs, and the first edition of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at 1 1/16 miles, the first ‘Derby’ of the season for the 2011 crop of 3-year-old colts and geldings.
The Mr. Prospector appears to be coming up strong with the nominations and list of probable starters led by Rosemary Rausch and David Zell’s 5-year-old gelding Capt. Candyman Can, winner of the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) over the track as a 3-year-old in 2009 for trainer Ian Wilkes and the Sir Shackleton overnight stakes early this year.
Also prominent on the Mr. Prospector roster are Donald Dizney’s Apriority, who set a track record for 6 ½ furlongs here early this year for trainer David Fawkes; Thomas Carey’s Nathan’s H Q, second last out in the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct; and Stud El Aguila’s Indiano, winner of the Carry Back Stakes (G2) this summer at Calder.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has indicated he is considering the new Gulfstream Park Derby for Godolphin Racing’s homebred colt Alpha, runner-up to Union Rags in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in his second start after a six-length debut victory at Saratoga. The son of Bernardini had problems at the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and tired to 11th in an effort obviously below his best.