Gulfstream News & Notes: 12.8.11
Hills playing Catch-up in Sugar Swirl
Catch a Thief will make her second start off a layoff in Saturday’s Sugar Swirl (G3), although her trainer, Tim Hills, views the six-furlong distance is less than ideal for the 4-year-old filly.
“She got in trouble in her first start off the layoff. She has no conditions, so I tried to get a race in her up north, but nothing filled,” Hills said. “She’s probably best going seven-eighths or a mile, but there’s no guarantee that those will fill until maybe January. So, we put her in there and we’ll see if we can get a placing in a Grade 3 and get her started.”
Catch a Thief, a stakes winner at a mile, followed up an optional allowance victory with a distant third-place finish behind Awesome Maria in the Sabin (G3) at Gulfstream Park last winter.
“Whew…(Awesome Maria) was like a colt. After that it seemed to knock my filly out. I ran her a few more times when we went north, but I should have stopped on her because she had had a long campaign,” Hills said. “We finally stopped with her, sent her to the farm, gave her a freshening, and she’s come back really well. She’s stronger. She got real light on me. She lost a lot of weight. We turned her out for 45 days and she really blossomed after that.”
Catch a Thief won the first two starts of her career at six furlongs before becoming stakes placed at 6 ½ furlongs and a stakes winter at a mile.
“Going long, she tends to be on the pace more. But she can come from behind. She’s not thrilled being in tight quarters, but she will run at horses,” Hills said. “She was in the one hole last time and she got bottled up just tight enough she couldn’t get through. She had no shot of getting out.”
Hills is looking forward to running the daughter of Flatter at longer distances and, perhaps, on turf.
“One of the things we want to do is get her on the grass at some point,” he said. “She’s out of a Red Ransom mare, and she breezed on the grass here last year and did well. It would broaden up our possibilities.”
Paco Lopez will have the mount in the Sugar Swirl.
McGaughey to Remain Patient with Data Link
Data Link kept his record on the Gulfstream Park turf course perfect on Sunday while capturing s $60,000 allowance race by nearly three lengths under Alex Solis. The 3-year-old colt had previously won back-to-back starts on the Gulfstream Green last winter.
Idle for eight months since his Gulfstream successes, Data Link finished fourth over a soft Belmont in his return on Oct.28.
“He was coming off a long layoff on soft turf, and I told Alex the course will be a lot different at Gulfstream. So when I saw this race, I pointed him to it,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We kind of trained him a little harder. I was thrilled the way he ran today. I thought he was relaxed in there and Alex said he was just waiting for him. That’s what I like them to do.”
McGaughey said he would remain patient in developing the son of War Front.
“We’ll take our time. We’ll run him back here. We’ll see where we are and see what Alex has to say to find out how much racing we need before we step it up too much.”
Solis, who has been aboard Data Link for all of his victories, was impressed with Data Link’s effort.
“He broke very alert and I was able to get the position I wanted very quickly. I saw a little hole around the 3/16ths pole and that’s when I made my move,” Solis said. “He’s a very good horse. I would say he’s definitely a stakes horse in the future.”
Escaper & Lucky Chappy Lead Nominations for Dania Beach
Richard Kaster and Frederick Weiting’s Escaper and Team Valor Stables’ Irish-bred Lucky Chappy finished second and fourth, respectively, last out in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5; and are prominent among 48 2-year-olds nominated for the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes to be run on Sun., Dec. 18 at Gulfstream Park.
The Dania Beach at one mile on turf will share the weekend spotlight with the $60,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday, Dec. 17 to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track with the nominations including a trio of stars trained by Rick Dutrow – Jay Em Ess Stable and partners’ 3-year-old Boys At Tosconova, Jay Em Ess Stable’s 3-year-old Redeemed and IEAH Stable’s 4-year-old Trickmeister.