Gulfstream News & Notes: Jan. 2
By Ed Gray & Jack Will
Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Never Retreat Retired
Never Retreat, who had been scheduled to make her final career start in next Saturday’s $100,000 Marshua’s River (G3) at Gulfstream Park, has been retired and on her way to Lexington, Ky. for a date with War Front.
The 6-year-old turf star, who captured the Honey Fox (G3) at Gulfstream last year, had originally been scheduled to retire after the Matriarch (G1) on Nov. 25. A third-place finish as the odds-on favorite at Hollywood Park prompted trainer Chris Block to give Never Retreat a chance to retire with a victory in the Marshua’s River.
“She had a little issue in the foot that caused her to miss a work or two, so we decided to go ahead and retire her,” Block said. “It would have been her last race anyway if we had made it. She’s on the way to Lexington to be bred.”
Purchased privately following her 3-year-old season, the daughter of Smart Strike won seven stakes for Team Block, including five graded stakes. All of her graded-stakes triumphs, including a Grade 1 score in the First Lady at Keeneland on Oct.8, came last year, starting with a length victory in the Honey Fox on March 5.
“The Honey Fox last year at Gulfstream kind of jump started her season. We learned something about her that day that she doesn’t necessarily be back off the pace. She could be forwardly placed. That’s what we used going forward for her races for the rest of the season,” Block said. “We kind of forwardly placed her and that seemed to be where she enjoy and ran her best.”
Her Grade 1 victory, of course, was the highlight of her career.
“Our expectations were to win a Grade 3 with her when we bought her and never expected to win a Grade 1,” said Block, who has also recently retired Giant Oak, the winner of last year’s Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Despite the departures of two Grade 1 stakes winners from his stable, Block still has several stakes winners to campaign this year, including Askbut I Won’ttell, who is being pointed to the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream on Jan. 28. The 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winner finished second in last year’s edition of the race, beaten just a half length by A Trip for A.J. after a wide trip.
Askbut I Wont’tell is coming off a poor showing in the South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 11.
“She had a little issue last time. She bled in the South Beach. We think we’re going to have her set up better this time in the Sunshine Millions,” Block said. “She’s training good and will have a workout this weekend on the turf.”
Troilus Posts Impressive Allowance Victory Sunday
Peachtree Stable’s 4-year-old Troilus looked good winning the seventh race ‘two other than’ allowance Sunday by 1 ¼ lengths over Endorsement going a mile while defeating a strong field under jockey Elvis Trujillo, his third straight victory for trainer Marty Wolfson.
“He keeps improving all the time,” said Wolfson after the race “His last race was very good and he overcame trouble to win today over a good field. I don’t know what will be next for him, probably a ‘three other than’ (allowance). You know me (rather than stakes race).”
Troilus is a son of Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown purchased for $250,000 at the Keeenland September yearling sales by John Fort’s Peachtree Stable, a longtime client of Wolfson’s. Troilus made his first three starts last spring and summer for mid-west-based trainer Steve Margolis, including second and third-place efforts in maiden special races at Saratoga.
“He (Fort) uses several trainers and moves horses around from one to another,” explained Wolfson. Troilus came to Wolfson in September at Calder and broke his maiden by 7 ½ lengths going five furlongs on Oct. 30 then followed with a one-mile allowance tally over the Gulfstream track by 2 ¼ lengths on Dec. 8.
Peachtree Stable’s ‘Happy New Year’ wasn’t over with Troilus’ allowance victory as trainer Wayne Catalano sent out Peachtree’s 3-year-old filly Sacristy for a 1 ¼ lengths victory in the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (G3) under jockey Kent Desormeaux in the ninth race.
Sacristy is a daughter of Pulpit purchased for $125,000 at the Saratoga yearling sales and was making her fourth career start over a fourth different track. Following runner-up efforts at Arlington Park and Keeneland over Polytrack surfaces, she was very impressive breaking her maiden on dirt at Churchill Downs on Nov. 10 by 6 ¾ lengths.
Dialed In Back to Work at Palm Meadows
Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In breezed three furlongs in 35 flat Monday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Nick Zito in his second recorded workout this winter as the 2011 Florida Derby (G1) hero gets ready for another campaign and first start since finishing fourth behind Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 21.
A son of Mineshaft, Dialed In won the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) going a mile here in late January in just the second start of his career after an impressive maiden score at Churchill Downs. Following his Florida Derby victory over Shackleford, he was made the lukewarm favorite at 5-to-1 for the Kentucky Derby (G1), but had a rough trip finishing eighth behind Animal Kingdom.
Zito has another promising 3-year-old prospect for LePenta on the trail this year in Casual Trick, who finished a game second by a half-length in Sunday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby while making the third start of his career after an impressive maiden score at Churchill downs in his previous start. The son of Bernardini was a $425,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase.
Also notable on the Monday morning work tab at Palm Meadows was a leading candidate for this year’s Holy Bull Stakes to be run on Sun., Jan. 29 as trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Starlight Racing’s 3-year-old Algorithms for an easy half-mile breeze in 50 flat. The son of Bernardini has won both of his starts, his debut at Belmont Park last June and a 6 ½-furlong allowance here at Gulfstream on Dec. 16.
Pletcher had another stable star working Monday morning as E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 5-year-old mare Awesome Maria was timed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5. The Kentucky homebred daughter of Maria’s Mon won all four of her starts in 2011, beginning with the Sabin Stakes (G3) and Rampart Stakes (G2) here early last year by 4 ¾ lengths and eight lengths, respectively.
A roan/gray filly, Awesome Maria appeared headed to leadership in the filly and mare division with victories in the Shuvee Handicap (G2) in May and Ogden Phipps Handicap by three lengths in June 18 at Belmont Park, but hasn’t raced since then.
Awesome Maria suffered a condylar fracture in her left foreleg while training toward a start in the Ruffian Invitational (G1) at Saratoga in late July. She was operated on by Dr. Larry Bramlage at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky. with two screws inserted, according to the Blood-Horse magazine report.