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Gulfstream News & Notes
Ultimate Eagle Due Tuesday for Donn Handicap
B.J. Wright’s Ultimate Eagle is set to be flown from Southern California to South Florida Tuesday to run in next Saturday’s highly-anticipated edition of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old will be making his first start finishing second by a head in the San Pasqual Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita on Jan. 5.
“We just thought it was time to test the waters,” said trainer Mike Pender Friday from his Hollywood Park headquarters. “He’ll be coming on a FedEx cargo flight Tuesday and I will be there, too. He’ll breeze here on Monday before we fly. He’ll be making his third start back off the layoff and the timing is right. He’s trained great. Martin (Pedroza) will ride him.”
A Kentucky-bred by Mizzen Mast, Ultimate Eagle has made all of his career starts at Southern California tracks and brings a 12-5-2-3 record and earnings of $547,000 into the 1 1/8 mile Donn. Only three of his races have been on the dirt.
After making his first three starts on the ‘Cushion’ track at Hollywood Park in the spring of 2011 as a maiden, he won his next four on turf at Del Mar, Santa Anita and back at Hollywood later that season, highlighted by a victory in the Hollywood Derby (G1) in the fall.
Ultimate Eagle made only three starts last year, winning the Strub Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita by 7 ¼ lengths in his first try on dirt before finishing 10th in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) early in the year. He returned from a nine-month layoff to finish a game second on turf in the Citation Handicap (G2) at Hollywood on Nov. 23 before his good try on dirt at Santa Anita in the San Pasqual.
Csaba Gets Final Tune-Up for Donn Saturday
Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 4-year-old Csaba breezed an easy half-mile in 50 2/5 Saturday morning at Calder under regular exercise ride Oscar Perez in preparation for his bid for a fifth consecutive stakes victory in next Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s doing good and looked good this morning,” said trainer Phil Gleaves. “It’s a big test for us and most of the horses in the race. It’s a quality Donn field.”
Asked about how the race might shape up with several leading contenders tending to run on or near the lead, the trainer said, “The good thing about Csaba is that he’s proven to be so tractable. We don’t have to rely on anybody else in the race to show speed or not. He makes his own race.”
A son of Kitten’s Joy, Csaba has won eight of 17 career starts including his last four. After scores in the ‘off the turf’ Tropical Park Derby in mid-October and Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) in November at Calder, he won the 1 1/16 miles Harlan’s Holiday Stakes here on Dec. 16 by 3 ¾ lengths and turned back for a game victory in the one turn, one-mile Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) on Jan. 13.
Take Charge Indy in Fast Final Prep for Donn
WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 4-year-old Take Charge Indy was timed a ‘bullet’ half-mile in 47 flat Saturday morning at Palm Meadows as the 2012 Florida Derby (G1) winner got his final drill ahead of his 2013 season debut in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) next Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
“He was sharp. I wanted to put a little speed in him and stretch his legs,” said trainer Pat Byrne. “He actually went three-eighths in 34 2/5 and galloped out in 47. We’re all set and looking forward to next Saturday.”
As for the possible pace scenarios, particularly with front-running California invader Ultimate Eagle in the race, Byrne said, “He’s (Take Charge Indy) push-button. If somebody else wants the lead they can have it. We’ll just sit off it.”
A regally-bred son of A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, Take Charge Indy makes his first start since a game second-place finish in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23 when beaten a length by Shackleford.
Mucho Macho Man Won’t Run in Donn Handicap
After failing to fully extend himself on a sloppy track in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 19, Mucho Macho Man was nominated for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream on Feb. 9. After weighing their options, the 5-year-old Florida-bred’s connections will take a pass on the 1 1/8-mile handicap.
“After considering the Donn as an option, we’ve decided to pass,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “It does not fit as well into our long-term objectives for Mucho Macho Man as others do.”
Mucho Macho Man, whose only other poor race came over a sloppy track in the Belmont Stakes, had finished a close second behind Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita prior to the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, in which he was taken in hand by jockey Mike Smith after struggling with the surface