Gulfstream News & Notes
Frac Daddy a Blast from McPeek’s Past.
Ken McPeek closely observed Skip Away with an admiring eye while training at Gulfstream Park during the mid and late 1990s, gaining a deep respect for trainer Sonny Hine’s big gray champion.
So when a colt he had purchased at auction reminded him of Skip Away, he viewed the resemblance to the 1998 Horse of the Year as a decided positive. Three races into his racing career, Frac Daddy has done nothing but feed his trainer’s enthusiasm and optimism about his future.
“I was around Skip Away when Sonny Hine had him, and this horse reminds me of him. He’s out of a Skip Away mare. Physically, he looks like Skip Away, so that’s kind of neat,” McPeek said. “Having been around a few good horses in my time, I think this horse could be any kind.”
Frac Daddy, whose gray coat and large frame help to remind his trainer of Skip Away, has demonstrated a lot of potential in his three starts thus far. The late-developing colt worked his way through traffic to finish second in his career debut at Belmont Park on Oct. 4 before scoring in a two-turn 1 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs by nearly 10 lengths on Nov. 3.
“The most impressive was his first race,” McPeek said. “It looked like he had every reason to lay down, but he kept fighting back to finish second, kind of weaving his way through traffic.”
Three weeks later after winning, he made a sweeping move on the turn into the homestretch to take a narrow lead in deep stretch before multiple stakes-winner Uncaptured fought back to post a neck decision over the McPeek trainee in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
“The second race was just dominant. We knew he was good. I was a little concerned about how he’d handle Churchill. It was amazing how powerful he was,” McPeek said. “In his third race I thought I could have trained him a little harder. He might have beaten the other horse. He got a little tired.”
The performance was certainly strong enough for McPeek to expect big things from Frac Daddy.
“Having been around a few good horses in my time, I think this horse could be any kind,” said McPeek, who saddled Harlan’s Holiday for a victory in the 2002 Florida Derby. “If he improves the way I expect him to, we’ve got a big chance to be in the middle of a lot of nice races.”
Frac Daddy, a son of 2007 Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy, is expected to be very active at Gulfstream during the 2012-2013 meeting.
“I’d like to get one race into him before the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 23) and then come back for the Florida Derby (March 30),” McPeek said.
Frac Daddy has already turned out to be a bargain for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners and McPeek, who purchased him at the 2011 Keeneland September sale for $50,000.
“He was big strong horse with a great him and a lot of substance to him,” he said.
McPeek is obviously hoping that Frac Daddy will perform well enough at Gulfstream to earn a stall in the starting gate for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
“I think this horse has got a good a chance as any horse I’ve had in my career,” he said.
McPeek-trained Tejano Run finished second behind Thunder Gulch in the 1995 Kentucky Derby.
"I made a mistake going to Fair Grounds that winter. If I had brought my horses here that winter instead of Fair Grounds, I think I would have one the Derby,” said McPeek, whose training schedule for Tejano Run was compromised by weather. “It was one of those odd winters. It did nothing but rain down there. It was nasty.”
Back in the Sunshine State, McPeek is hoping Frac Daddy’s winter at Gulfstream Park will set him up for a winning effort at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
Sir Rabbit Keeps on Going at Gulfstream
During a time when the durability of today’s Thoroughbreds has come into question, Sir Rabbit is entered to make the 82 start of his career in Thursday’s fourth race.
“Knock on wood, he’s a veterinarian’s nightmare,” said trainer Jessica Campitelli, looking on as the 9-year-old gelding stood quietly during his morning bath. “We do acupuncture with him, but that’s all we do.”
Sir Rabbit will be chasing his 15th career victory and 49th on-the-board finish in Thursday’s $27,500 starter turf allowance, for which he has been rated co-second choice in the morning line behind Mike Maker-trained Major Marvel, the 7-5 favorite who lost a tight photo finish in the Claiming Crown Emerald at Gulfstream on Dec. 1.
“He doesn’t win every time, but he gives 150 percent every time,” Campitelli said. “He never cheats on you.”
Sir Rabbit, who has won at Gulfstream each of the past two seasons, has always held his own against youngsters, but he really asserted himself against his peers last August.
“He ran a race at Colonial this summer in a race for 8-year-olds and older. He won that,” Campitelli said with a wide smile. “That was neat.”
Campitelli said that Sir Rabbit always trains enthusiastically, providing his exercise rider with a handful of horse.
“He doesn’t even remotely tell us that he wants to go to the farm,” said Campitelli, after rushing to the tack room to retrieve some mints for the stable favorite. “He loves what he does.”
Campitelli reported that Mystic Love has come out of her victory in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream last Saturday in good order. The 2-year-old filly, who beat the boys in the mile turf stakes, is expected to return in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream on Jan. 27.
Beach Master Moves to Grass Thursday
Beach Master, who finished a solid second in an optional claiming allowance over Gulfstream Park’s main oval on Dec. 8, will return to action on turf in Thursday’s sixth race for new connections. The 2-year-old son of Black Mambo set a swift early pace before being caught by odds-on favorite Handsome Jack in the 6 ½ -furlong sprint.
“He looked good on paper: speed, young,” said trainer Jim DiVito, who claimed the son of Black Mambo for $50,000 for Doubledown Stables. “He seems fine, but I don’t know if he’ll turf. We’ll see what happens on the turf.
Beach Master, who finished 5 ½ lengths ahead of the third-place finisher in his last start, doesn’t have a big flat turf foot, but he has something else that has prompted to move to turf.
“The breeding is what entices me to try him on the turf. He’s out of an Honor Grades mare, and Honors Grades is turf,” DiVito said. “I think his mother threw a winner on the turf, if I’m not mistaken.”
Robby Albarado has been named to ride Beach Master.