Gulfstream News & Notes
Are You Kidding Me Joins Florida Derby Cast
Trainer Roger Attfield had entered Ron Kirk and partners’ Are You Kidding Me in the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2) going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Mar. 2, only to scratch the colt who had finished a close-up fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in his previous start.
Instead, Are You Kidding Me made his 3-year-old debut in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on turf at Tampa Bay Downs a week later on Mar. 9, finishing a strong second by a nose behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner-up Noble Tune in a good effort.
Are You Kidding Me is now scheduled to face the biggest test of his career in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on Sat., Mar. 30 with jockey Jose Lezcano booked to ride the Kentucky homebred son of Run Away and Hide in his first ever start on dirt.
“He’s run well on the Polytrack and turf, and trained well on dirt here all winter at Payson Park,” said Attfield Friday morning. “Of course you really don’t know how they’ll handle it until you try it. We’ve always thought he could be good enough to be thinking of him as a (Kentucky) Derby horse and this is where we’ll find out.
“He drew the far outside for the Swale (post 13) and we didn’t like that, so we went to Tampa and he got beat a nose on the turf. I was pleased with the race and he got what he needed from it for his next race. We considered the Louisiana Derby (G2), but I was concerned that he it might be over-subscribed and we might not get in. This way we don’t have to worry about shipping and we’ll find out where we are.”
Are You Kidding Me was developed last year at Woodbine in Canada, making his first five starts there, the first three on Polytrack, and breaking his maiden going six furlongs in his third start. He followed with an allowance victory on turf and a strong runner-up effort when beaten a half-length in the $250,000 Summer Stakes (G2) on ‘yielding’ turf. He completed his juvenile campaign with a good try in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland when beaten only 2 ½ lengths for it all by Joha.
Are You Kidding Me’s owner-breeder partnership team is led by Ron Kirk, who operates Ron Kirk Insurance LLC in Lexington, Ky., a horse insurance firm, along with Californians John Bates, Michael Riordan and others. Kirk and his partners also bred and raced the sire, Run Away and Hide, winner of all three of his career starts as a 2-year-old in 2008.
A son of City Zip trained by Ronny Werner, Run Away and Hide won his debut at Keeneland in April, the Kentucky Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs in May and the Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga in mid-August in his final career start. Run Away and Hide was retired to stand stud at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington and Are You Kidding Me is from his first crop.
Frac Daddy Gets Final Tune-up for Florida Derby
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ 3-year-old Frac Daddy worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 under jockey Corey Lanerie Friday morning at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a start in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1).
“He worked super,” said trainer Ken McPeek who was beginning a busy weekend of travel to Turfway Park to saddle Taken by the Storm in the $550,000 Spiral Stakes (G2) and morning-line favorite Pure Fun in the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) on Saturday.
A roan/gray colt by Scat Daddy, Frac Daddy came to Gulfstream this winter with high expectations from McPeek after a game second-place finish by a neck in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24 won by Uncaptured, who is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Spiral.
In his lone start since the Kentucky Jockey Club, Frac Daddy had a bad day in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 26 when he grabbed a quarter rather badly and was never a factor. It was later determined Frac Daddy was suffering from a throat ulcer.
“I’ve never changed my mind about thinking he was a good colt. In fact, the extra time I had to give him may have done him a lot of good. I think Corey fits him very well and I’m looking forward to the race,” said McPeek, who sent out Harlan’s Holiday to win the 2002 edition of the Florida Derby.
Rosario & Velazquez Lead Gulfstream Jockey Day Trip
Jockeys Joel Rosario and John Velazquez, currently second and fourth, respectively, in the Gulfstream Park standings with two weeks to go in the meet, are among five Gulfstream-based jockeys traveling to Turfway Park in Kentucky Saturday for mounts in the $550,000 Spiral Stakes (G2) or other stakes on the card that afternoon.
Rosario rides My Name Is Michael for trainer Bill Mott in the Spiral and Velazquez will be aboard Capo Bastone for Todd Pletcher. Joe Bravo makes the trip for the mount on Black Onyx for Kelly Breen, while Alan Garcia rides Taken by the Storm for Ken McPeek in the Spiral. Corey Lanerie makes the trip for the mount on Divine Ambition in the $75,000 Rushaway Stakes for trainer Darrin Miller on the undercard.
While most of those riders will be back in action at Gulfstream Sunday, Velazaquez will continue his busy weekend at Sunland Park in New Mexico with the mount on Abraham in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) for trainer Todd Pletcher and Majestic River in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.