Gulfstream News & Notes - March 10
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Jockey Paco Lopez, the leading rider at Gulfstream before injuring his elbow in a spill following the sixth race Feb. 18, hopes to resume riding Wednesday, March 18, according to agent Cory Moran.
“We’re targeting Wednesday for Paco’s return,” Moran said. “He’s working with a therapist and it’s really helping the ligaments he sprained. Anyone who knows Paco knows he wants to ride now. He’d ride with a broken leg and say he’s fine. But when he comes back we want everything to be 100 percent. So, right now, we’re optimistic Wednesday is the day he’ll return.”
Palm Beach Saturday Now Appears Wide-Open
Trainer Graham Motion entered Team Valor International’s 3-year-old Pluck in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Gulfstream Park and a one-mile turf allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs the same afternoon, indicating later that the most likely option will be the Tampa race for his first start since winning the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
If Pluck travels from his Palm Meadows headquarters to Tampa, the Palm Beach becomes a wide-open affair with no clear-cut favorite and trainer Todd Pletcher holding a strong hand with a pair of contenders – Zayat Stables’ Ari C to be ridden by Javier Castellano and Mill House’s Queen’splate Kitten and John R. Velazquez aboard.
Aric C is a Stormy Atlantic colt purchased for $130,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales and made both starts over the Gulfstream course at the meet. He captured his debut going 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 14 with Casino Host second and finished a good second by a half-length in a 1 1/8 miles allowance on Feb. 16 after setting the pace to the final strides.
Queen’splatekitten is by Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 2004 Eclipse champion turf runner Kitten’s Joy and won an ‘a other than’ allowance going a mile over the course on Feb. 5 in his first start for Pletcher and Mill House. Queen’splatekitten raced twice last year at Woodbine for the Ramseys and trainer Brian Lynch, finishing second in his debut on turf in late October and breaking his maiden on Polytrack in early December.
Get Away Farm Racing Stable’s Master Dunker and Namcook Stables’ Liberty Cap finished second and fourth in the $100,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes going 1 1/16 miles over the course last out on Feb. 6 and meet again in the Palm Beach, each certain to well-supported.
Jockey Luis Saez gets a return call on Master Dunker for trainer David Fawkes after they finished second by a head in the Hallandale Beach, but was elevated to first by the stewards following an inquiry and reviewing tapes of the rough stretch run as Liberty Cup rallied for fourth, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths for it all.
A roan/gray by Imperialism, Master Dunker won a five-furlong allowance race in his turf debut at Calder in mid-November after five starts on the main track. He broke his maiden by 8 ¼ lengths for a $40,000 claiming tag and no takers in early August. In one start between the allowance victory at Calder in November and the Hallandale Beach, Master Dunker finished third in the Dania Beach on Jan. 16, beaten 1 ¼ lengths.
Liberty Cap was making his North American racing debut in the Hallandale Beach and was not well-behaved loading into the starting gate before running a very credible race. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Kentucky-bred by Street Cry won two of eight starts in England last year for trainer John Gosden and was purchased by his current connection at the Tattersalls sales there in October.
Completing the field of 10 drawn for the Palm Beach are Prantlack Farm’s East of Danzig, Joe Bravo; Joseph Witek’s Joes Blazing Aaron, Orlando Bocachica; Preston Stable’s Artful Run, Kent Desormeaux; James Karp’s Newsdad, J.L. Castanon; and World Thoroughbreds Racing’s Rafe, Elvis Trujillo.