Gulfstream News & Notes
Emma’s Encore on Target for Hurricane Bertie
Brenda Mercer and Peter Berglar’s 4-year-old filly Emma’s Encore ran a big race to finish second in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park going six furlongs on Jan. 19 for Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens in her first start since October at Keeneland.
Emma’s Encore breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:04 2/4 at Gulfstream Thursday morning as she is kept on edge for a start next in the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) at 6 ½ furlongs on Sun., Feb. 10.
“That’s the plan,” said Jerkens Wednesday afternoon. “I thought she ran a good race (Sunshine Millions). She got in a little trouble when she was making her move. That’s just the way she runs (off the pace).”
A Florida-bred daughter of Congrats, Emma’s Encore ran four times at Gulfstream early last year, finishing third before breaking her maiden and scoring in an allowance race sprinting. She then finished eighth behind Grace Hall trying to stretch out to two turns in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
Turned back to sprints in New York last spring, Emma’s Encore got good winning the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park in early July before her biggest victory in the Prioress Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in early August. In two starts after that she finished sixth with trouble in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) and eighth in the TCA Stakes (G2) run on Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
Jerkens has previously sent out the winner of the Hurricane Bertie three times in the eight editions of the race, beginning with the first in 2005 with 8-year-old Lilac. The other two wins came with Joseph P. Shields, Jr.’s outstanding sprint stakes filly Any Limit, who won the race in 2007 and again in 2009.
Wolfson Sprinters Set for Donn Weekend Stakes
Trainer Marty Wolfson appears to hold a strong hand for the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) and $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) among five stakes to be run on Donn Handicap weekend at Gulfstream Park, Feb. 9-10, respectively.
“I’m planning on both Swagger Jack and Indiano for the Sprint Championship,” said Wolfson Thursday morning after Indiano breezed an easy half-mile in 50 3/5 at Calder.
“I love the way Swagger Jack is doing right now. I’d rather the race was a flat mile like his last two races, but he should be fine at seven-eighths.”
Silverton Hill LLC’s 5-year-old Swagger Jack has already made four starts at this Gulfstream meet, winning the last two in allowance races going a mile on Dec. 29 and Jan. 17. The son of Smart Strike defeated Ever So Lucky and Spring Hill Farm in the first and Easter Gift in the second.
Stud El Aguila’s 5-year-old Indiano also won his last start here, capturing the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) going six furlongs on Dec. 29 over Off the Jak with Action Andy third. Off the Jak came back to win the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 19. A Kentucky-bred by Indian Charlie, Indiano has a 17-10-4-2 record, winning his first five starts in Panama prior to joining the Wolfson barn.
Wolfson has a trio of fillies and mares nominated to the Hurricane Bertie, but will “probably just go with Golden Mystery,” he said. Farnsworth Stables’ 7-year-old Golden Mystery has made three starts at the meet, winning the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint on Jan. 19 over Emma’s Encore in second.
A daughter of Awesome Again with earnings of $460,000, Golden Mystery had previously finished second to Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up Dust and Diamonds in the Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) here on Dec. 8 and second to Successful Song in the Ocala Stakes on Dec. 30.
Golden Mystery is consigned to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed sales on Mon., Feb. 11. “I wasn’t thinking of running her back in here until I found out that Dust and Diamonds was retired. She’ll leave for Kentucky the night of the race,” said Wolfson.
Suwannee River Suits at Least ‘One’ Brown Trainee
Trainer Chad Brown nominated two horses for the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream on Feb. 9, but he’ll likely just run one, Kya One. The 5-year-old French-bred turf mare captured the My Charmer (G3) at Calder on Nov. 22.
“She’s been doing well. I’ve been just looking around for a race with a suitable distance for her. A mile and an eighth seems to be the minimum where I want to run her,” Brown said.
The daughter of One Cool Cat finished fifth in the one-mile Noble Damsel (G3) in her U.S. debut at Belmont in September before capturing the 1 1/8-mile My Charmer.
Brown’s other nominee for the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River, Dealbata has been entered in Saturday’s Endeavor (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I’m probably 50-50 to run. If I don’t run her there, I could end up running her in the Suwannee River, too,” Brown said. “She’s a little behind in her training, but she’s doing really well.”
Brown reported that Noble Tune and Balance the Books, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last time out, are working well for their 2013 debuts.
“I’m most likely going to point Balance the Books to the Palm Beach, and Noble Tune, I’m not sure where I’m going to run him yet,” said Brown, whose turf colts have both worked three times thus far.
The Palm Beach (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, will be run on March 3.
Big Blue Kitten, who finished third in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) last time out, won’t return in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), in which 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Point of Entry and Hollywood Derby (G1) victor Unbridled Command are expected to clash on Feb. 9.
“He’ll sit out the next one at Gulfstream. It’s come up pretty tough. We’ll look for something else for him,” Brown said.