Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Off his hard-fought runner-up finish in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, Florida-bred Wildcat Red earned his way into the mix for the track’s key races for 3-year-olds.
Trainer Jose Garaffalo is pointing the D’wildcat colt to the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2) on Jan. 25, with an eye on the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 22. Both races are run at 1 1/16 miles.
“We have plans to run in the Holy Bull; that will be the next step,” Garaffalo said. “Depending on the Holy Bull, we will go in the Fountain of Youth. Who knows if we will go in the Florida Derby. It’s still too early to tell, but right now we have expectations. We’ll see what happens. I think he’ll be ready for the next one.”
The 63rdrunning of the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1), at 1 1/8 miles, will be run on March 29.
Breaking from post one under jockey Paco Lopez, Wildcat Red battled for the lead with Aarons Orient for a quarter-mile before taking over the top spot. He was passed by eventual winner General a Rod after six furlongs, came back to take a short lead turning for home, and fought all the way to the wire before losing a head bob following a mile in 1:35.84.
“He came back in very good shape, thank God,” Garaffalo said. “He ran a hell of a race. The best case scenario would be to win, but I’m OK. We’re happy with the race. He did his job. Considering he was off for two months, the post position and all the speed of the race, he did a great job.”
“Surprisingly, he came back full of himself, very happy. He deserved to win because he did all the work, but he proved that he has the class and that he can go longer, which is what I want to do with him. I want to run him longer and see if he can go two turns.”
Garaffalo believes Wildcat Red will stretch out despite being by D’wildcat, a multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter whose victories included the 2002 DeFrancis Dash (G1).
“Now he proved that he can do better than he did before, especially the distance. In a good pace, in a slower pace, he can go longer. He fought the whole time, he never quit,” he said. “The most important thing is that the horse came back in good shape. There are plenty of races ahead of him and if he’s sound, he will go far. You have to have the horse.”
Itsmyluckyday Bounces Out Of Work "110 Percent" Multiple stakes winner Itsmyluckyday bounced out of his first published work in nearly seven months in good shape, leaving trainer Eddie Plesa excited about a 2014 campaign. “He looks like a million dollars,” said Plesa, who trains Itsmyluckyday for his wife, Laurie, and Trilogy Stable. “He came out of the work 110 percent. He’s anxious, no question about it. I just have to make sure I have enough patience for the both of us.” Runner-up in both the Florida Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) last year, Itsmyluckyday went an easy three furlongs in 36 seconds on Dec. 31 at Palm Meadows, the fastest of 31 horses. His last breeze came in early June as a lead-up to the June 16 Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth Park, where Itsmyluckyday was pulled up with what was later diagnosed as a pelvic fracture, ending is 3-year-old season.
“I like the way he did what he did,” Plesa said. “He did it in hand, he did it willfully, and he did it without being asked. He just really couldn’t be doing any better.
“I didn’t expect it [to be that fast], but it didn’t surprise me. He’s just that kind of horse, and he’s anxious. He’s a good-feeling horse that’s happy to be out on the racetrack doing what he was bred to do. It’s very gratifying to see the way this time off has healed him.”
Plesa said he will keep Itsmyluckyday on a weekly work schedule leading up to his 4-year-old debut, but is leaving all options open. A likely target is the $100,000 Skip Away (G3) going 1 3/16 miles at Gulfstream on March 29.
Itsmyluckyday won the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) in 2013 before finishing second to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Florida Derby. After a disappointing 15th in the Derby, the son of Lawyer Ron bounced back to run behind Oxbow in the Preakness.
“I have no plans or any race picked out,” Plesa said. “When the time comes, he’ll let me know we’re close and then I’ll start looking around.”
Guaranteed Pools for Pick 5 and Late Pick 4 in January
Gulfstream will offer guaranteed pools on its Pick 5 and Late Pick 4 each Saturday in January.
The Late Pick 4 will have a guaranteed pool of $200,000 each Saturday and the Pick 5 will have a guaranteed pool of $100,000.
Gulfstream's Jan. 4 program will include three stakes - the $100,000 Marshua's River (G3), the $100,000 Old Hat (G3) and $100,000 Spectacular Bid.