Gulfstream News & Notes
McLaughlin to Run Soldat Back on Dirt in Hal’s Hope
Originally expected to run in Saturday’s $150,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) over the Gulfstream turf course, Soldat will be entered in Sunday’s main-track attraction, the $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3) at one mile.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin called an audible after watching Soldat, a graded-stakes winner on both surfaces, work at Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for this weekend’s stakes.
“We worked him on the turf up here and then we worked him back on the dirt, and he just looked better on the dirt working to me,” said McLaughlin, whose 5-year-old turned in a ‘bullet’ five-furlong workout on dirt in late December. “He worked very well two times on the dirt here, and he’s 2-for-3 on the main track at Gulfstream.”
Soldat’s future appeared to be on turf when he broke his maiden in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) at Saratoga and finished second in a pair of subsequent stakes, including the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2).
The lure of the Triple Crown prompted McLaughlin to try Soldat back on dirt at Gulfstream in 2011, and the son of War Front instantly became a major contender on the Road to the Triple Crown. After winning a stakes-quality allowance in a romp by nearly 11 lengths, Soldat posted a front-running victory in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Soldat finished fifth in the Florida Derby (G1) and went on to finish 11th in the Kentucky Derby.
On the shelf due to foot problems, Soldat returned to action on turf last March at Gulfstream with a three-length victory. A soft-tissue problem took him out of action until late November, when he finished sixth in an overnight turf stakes at Aqueduct.
“We’re looking at the future. It’s probably a good time to try him back on the dirt and see what happens,” McLaughlin said. “If he doesn’t run well, we can put him back on the turf. But the races on the turf down here are going to be extremely difficult with Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry and others. We thought it would be a good time to switch to the dirt and see how it goes.”
Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, and Point of Entry, a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner, are being pointed to the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) on Feb. 9.
In the Hal’s Hope, Soldat is expected to meet Csaba, who won the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream by nearly four lengths last month, and El Padrino, the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old, the 2012 Risen Star (G2) winner at Fair Grounds who recently finished second at Gulfstream in his 2012 finale.
Groupie Doll Regrouping At Gulfstream
Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) heroine Groupie Doll, who arrived at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 29, has yet to make it to the racetrack to train due to less-than-perfect blood work.
“Her blood work hasn’t been just right yet, so we haven’t even taken her to the track yet. She’s eating good; her temperature’s normal; she’s not coughing; but she’s had to be put on antibiotics, trying to get her blood right,” said trainer Buff Bradley, who bred and owns the 5-year-old mare in partnership with his father, Fred.
“It’s showing there’s some kind of infections she’s fighting. We pulled it again on Monday, and it’s getting better. So we thought we’d walk her another five days and pull it again and she how that’s like. We’ve been pulling bloods to make sure the horse is right before we go back with her. We’re not pushed for time or anything.”
Bradley has set the $200,000 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream on Mar. 17 as a goal for Groupie Doll’s 2013 debut.
“She’s been very healthy. She’s had all her vaccines and everything, it’s just may be a bug or something,” Bradley said. “She really hasn’t shown a big sickness or anything, which is good. But I don’t want to start her training and knock her back, because that’s what would happen.”
Groupie Doll is a virtual cinch to be named champion Female Sprinter at the Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19.
“It’s pretty exciting knowing that she ought to have the Filly & Mare Sprint division wrapped up pretty good. I always wanted to walk up there and get a little horse, that statue,” said Bradley, who, along with his father, sold shares in Groupie Doll to longtime clients Carl Hurst and Brent Burns. “It’s great to know that a horse we bred and raised right from the start is a champion. The whole team and family are excited and proud.”
Fred Bradley was hospitalized in late December with congestive heart failure.
“He’s doing better. He’s back home. He’s been doing OK, but he’s not going to be able to make it down for the Eclipse Awards,” Bradley said. “He just doesn’t feel up to traveling right now.”