Gulfstream News & Notes: 2.10.12
Million-Dollar Baby Set for Debut at Gulfstream
Saturday’s Gulfstream Park program, highlighted by the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) and three other stakes, will be supported by a pair of allowance events and four maiden special weight races loaded with horses with stakes potential.
Of particular interest in the sixth race, a $51,500 maiden test for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, in which a $1.3 million purchase at the 2009 Keeneland September Sale will make her debut.
Appropriately named Onepointhreecarats by Live Oak Plantation’s Charlotte Weber, the 4-year-old filly will be saddled by Graham Motion.
“I think she came close to a race last year at Saratoga, but I’ve had her since I’ve come down to Palm Meadows,” Motion said. “She’s training nicely. She’s a nice filly to be around.”
The Florida-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has had six workouts since Dec. 24 at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach in preparation for her debut, in which she will meet Silent Fright, Claire’s Song, Sanadaat and Amazing Surprise, all of whom are coming off second-place finishes.
Motion has also entered Smart Bid in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), but a soft turf course could delay the 2012 debut of last year’s runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile stakes.
“We do have concerns about it, because the last time he ran it was very soft and I don’t think he handled it very well,” Motion said. “I’m going to have concerns about running him if (the turf is very soft).”
Smart Bid, who lost by a nose to Teaks North last year, finished eighth in his 2011 finale over a yielding turf course at Parx in September. The son of Smart Strike had previously finished second in the Sky Classic (G2) on a less-than-firm turf at Woodbine.
“It was labeled good at Woodbine the day he ran, but the last time it was quite soft in Philadelphia, and he kind of struggled on it,” Motion said. “He’s coming off a layoff so it would be a little harder on him if it came up soft.”
Motion is looking forward to the upcoming season debuts of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and 2011 Wood Memorial victor Toby’s Corner.
“They’re both within a work of a race,” Motion said. “They both had good works Wednesday. I’m very happy with the way they’re coming around.”
Motion said he is expecting Animal Kingdom to return in a Tampa turf stakes on Feb. 25.
He said Toby’s Corner will be nominated to the General George Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 20, as well as other stakes in Florida.
“We’re pretty much up in the air; we could also show up in an allowance race,” Motion said.
Force Freeze Leads Cast Expected for Sprint Championship
Saeed Naser al Romalthi’s 7-year-old gelding Force Freeze, last seen finishing a game second to Amazombie in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, is on target to launch his 2012 season in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) on Sat., Feb. 18.
Force Freeze and Luis Olivares 5-year-old gelding Tackleberry, winner of the Sprint Championship last year, lead the nominations for the seven-furlong test with the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares to be run at 6 ½ furlongs to highlight the Sun., Feb. 19 card.
Force Freeze was beaten only a neck by Amazombie in the Breeders’ Cup, the latter going on to be voted Eclipse champion sprinter. A Kentucky-bred by Forest Camp, Force Freeze raced in Dubai for a couple of seasons and until being sent to Walder at Monmouth Park last summer, winning the Teddy Drone Stakes there in late July and finishing second in the Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 1 before the Breeders’ Cup.
Tackleberry has been training steadily for his 2012 debut and first start since finishing ninth in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont on May 30. The son of Montbrook won the Sunshine Millions Classic in late January last year before the Sprint Championship victory in February and captured the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) in his next start in March.
Also prominent among nominees for this year’s renewal of the Sprint Championship are Donald Dizney’s Apriority, winner of the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) earlier in the meet for trainer David Fawkes; Irving Cowan’s regally-bred Bold Warrior, a son of Bernardini out of Hollywood Wildcat trained by Allen Jerkens; and Peachtree Stable’s Troilus, winner of two allowance races at the meet for trainer Marty Wolfson.
Pinnacle Racing Stable and trainer Bill Kaplan’s 5-year-old mare Musical Romance was voted 2011 Eclipse champion filly or mare sprinter after her upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on and is the most accomplished of the nominee for the Hurricane Bertie.
However, the daughter of Concorde’s Tune got her 2012 season off to a rough start finishing fourth in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint with plenty of trouble in the race on Jan. 28. Kaplan indicated the daughter of Concorde’s Tune came out of the race none the worse for wear.
Leading trainer Todd Pletcher has four fillies and mares nominated to select from for the Hurricane Bertie between Gainesway Farm’s 5-year-old Afleet Lass, Blue Heaven Farm’s 4-year-old Maple Forest and E. Paul Robsham Stable’s pair of 5-year-old Awesome Maria and 4-year-old R Holiday Mood.
Another accomplished prospect is Stronach Stable’s 4-year-old Her Smile, who finished third behind Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs when owned by Bobby Flay and trained by Pletcher. The daughter of Include was purchased by Stronach Stable days after for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton November sales and is being pointed for the Hurricane Bertie by new trainer Chad Brown.