Gulfstream News & Notes: March 11
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Uncle Mo is an imposing rival for the most seasoned 3-year-olds, so trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is certainly not entertaining the thought of pulling off an upset in Saturday’s $100,000 Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park. McLaughlin will saddle Rattlesnake Bridge for the one-mile stakes with the sole objective of gaining experience for his promising colt in only his second lifetime start.
“We entered in an allowance race, and the allowance race didn’t fill. There were only four that entered into it. We felt like we need to run to see where we stand. It’s good timing moving forward and from his maiden win,” McLaughlin said. “We didn’t want to hook up with Mo, obviously – none of us wanted to. But we just needed to run and a mile suits us well. He’s a nice colt who needs racing.”
The 3-year-old son of Tapit made an impressive debut to racing on Feb. 12 when he closed from off the pace to win going away by 1-1/4 lengths under John Velazquez.
“This is jumping up from a maiden win to hooking the 2-year-old champion. It’s not ideal, but we’re trying to learn about our horse,” McLaughlin said. “If he gets the mile and comes running and gets second or third, he’ll learn from it. He needs racing.”
Purchased by Hill House for $450,000 last year, Rattlesnake Bridge will be ridden for the first time by Jose Lezcano. Velazquez will be otherwise occupied by champion Uncle Mo, whom he has ridden to three easy triumphs in as many starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Rule Returns in Gulfstream Park Handicap
Compromised by a wide trip while finishing third in the 1-1/8-mile Donn Handicap (G1) on Feb. 5, Rule takes a drop in grade and distance in Saturday’s one-mile $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
“Rule’s trained really well since the Donn. I think the mile is a good distance for him. I just wish he didn’t draw the ‘One,’ but hopefully he can overcome that,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, whose 4-year-old colt will take on seven rivals from the rail post position.
The WinStar Farm homebred, who returned from a nine-month layoff to finish a solid second behind Soaring Empire in the Hal’s Hope (G2) on Jan. 8, has never been worse than third in nine lifetime starts.
“I think he’s a versatile horse. I think he handles everything from a mile to a mile and an eighth. He tries hard every time. He shows up and gives us a big effort every time. We just need a few things to fall our way.”
Javier Castellano, who has been aboard Rule for both of his 2011 starts, will be replaced Saturday by Velazquez, who was aboard for three of Rule’s fourth victories.
“Johnny’s ridden him in the past and has had success on him,” Pletcher said. “We thought Javier did a good job, but Johnny’s our go-to guy and he was available, so we decided to put him back on.”
“His first two races were similarly good and I think we can expect a similar type effort again.”
In addition to Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer and Rule in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Rule will be represented by two promising colts in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach (G3), a 1-1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.
Ari C, who’ll be ridden by Castellano, captured his debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 14 before finishing a close second after setting the pace in an entry-level allowance race on Feb. 16. Queen’splatekitten, who’ll be ridden by Velazquez, won an allowance race on Feb. 5 in his first start for Pletcher after being privately purchased by Mill House in December.
“I think we have two exciting colts in there,” Pletcher said. “Ari C has been good in both of his two starts. Hopefully, he’ll settle a little better than he did in his last race going a mile and an eighth.”
Pletcher has no qualms about running two colts in the Palm Beach.
“I think they’ll complement each other,” he said. Queen’splatekitten will drop back and make one run and Ari C. will probably be close to the pace. They’re both solid 3-year-old colts that seem to be on the improve.”