Gulfstream Park News & Notes: 12.11.11
By Jack Will & Ed Gray
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Runner-Up Excaper Likely for Dania Beach
Richard Kaster and Frederick Wietling’s 2-year-old Kentucky homebred colt Excaper finished a game second as a 33-to-1 longshot behind Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish invader Wrote in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, and appears set to resume his promising career in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sun. Dec. 18.
“He’s (Excaper) been training right along at Payson Park and we’re seriously looking at the race (Dania Beach),” said trainer Ian Black. “He’ll work on Monday and if that goes well he’ll likely run.”
A roan/gray son of Exchange Rate, Excaper made each of his three career starts prior to the Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine where Black is based for most of the year. After winning his debut sprinting on Polytrack in early August, he finished a close-up second on turf in the $250,000 Summer Stakes (G3) in mid-September and fourth back on Polytrack in the $200,000 Gray Stakes (G3) in early October..
In the Breeders’ Cup, Excaper stalked the early pace racing second under regular jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, held a half-length lead in mid-stretch, and gave way to finish second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Wrote with Finale, winner of the Summer Stakes, seventh in the full field of 14.
Black and Wilson teamed up last winter as Ellie Boje Farm’s 7-year-old Rahy’s Attorney captured the 50th running of the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (3) over the Gulfstream course with Musketier second and Prince Will I Am third.
Martin has big plans for Nathan’s H Q
Clyde Martin and Nathan’s H Q have proven to be a winning combination at Gulfstream Park the past couple of years. Trained and ridden by Martin, Nathan’s H Q won an allowance race in each of the past two seasons and finished a gutsy third in the Sir Shackleton Handicap last April
Martin and the 4-year-old son of Yonaguska are back at Gulfstream for the 2011-2012 meeting with loftier goals.
“He’s going to run in the Mr. Prospector (G3),” said the 53-year-old Martin, looking ahead to the Dec. 31 six-furlong sprint. “He’s put on a lot of muscle. He’s just a way more mature horse. He really looks the part.”
Nathan’s H Q, who has finished in the money in 11 of his 13 lifetime starts, is coming off a close second-place finish in the Fall Highweight (G3) under Rajiv Maragh at Aqueduct. It was the first time Thomas Carey’s colt was ridden by anyone other than Martin.
“The owner wanted to put another rider on him. That’s fine with me. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me,” said Martin, who plans to ride the other three horses he’s training at Gulfstream Park.
Martin, who has ridden more than 1850 winners, is looking forward to Nathan’s H Q coming into his own this year as a stakes printer.
“We gave him the summer off. He’s not a real good heat horse anyway. It just helped him mature and he’s gotten stronger for it,” he said.
Broadway Alibi Likely Choice in Thursday Allowance Feature
The annual parade of emerging stars from the powerful stable of trainer Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream Park has begun earlier than usual this winter with the opening moved forward to Sat., Dec. 3 this year as he sent out E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 2-year-old Florida homebred colt Discreet Dancer to score by 9 ¾ lengths as the 7-to-10 favorite in his career debut, setting a track record of 1:02:34 for 5 ½ furlongs.
Pletcher has another promising homebred juvenile prospect for the Robsham stable entered in Thursday’s ‘a other than’ optional/allowance feature for fillies at 6 ½ furlongs in Broadway Alibi with two-time Gulfstream champion jockey John Velazquez making his first appearance of the 2011-12 season here in the saddle.
A daughter of Vindication, Broadway Alibi will likely be the favorite in the field of eight after breaking her maiden last out going six furlongs at Delaware Park on Sept. 10 by seven lengths on Sept. 10 after finishing second by a length in her career debut there on Aug. 20.
Another impressive maiden winner last out that will get plenty of attention in the race is James Connor and partners’ The Cat’s All That with Daniel Centeno in a return call for trainer Chuck Peery. That Cat’s All That is a daughter of Discreet Cat, sire of Discreet Dancer, and the $50,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase scored by eight lengths at Calder on Nov. 11 after a fourth-place debut on Polytrack at Keeneland.
Completing the field for Thursday’s feature are Rosa Stephany Taveras’ Miss Quisqueya, Joe Bravo; Elite Equine’s Reposse, Joe Rocco, Jr.; Jacqueline and Manny Tortotra’s Arabella’s Tune, Peachtree Stable’s Ullapool, Jeffrey Sanchez; Tommy Ligon’s Personally Yours, Paco Lopez; and Off The Hook LLC and Double Jak Investments’ Ciguaraya, Javier Castellano.
Bob Hess, Jr. Nears 1,000 Career Win Milestone
Trainer Bob Hess, Jr. is a busy horseman this winter as he directs divisions at Gulfstream Park where he has 18 horses, and another at Santa Anita from where he sent out California Dreamin LLC’s 4-year-old colt Imperial Pride to win the sixth race Thursday at Hollywood Park, marking the trainer’s 999th career victory.
Hess has no runners entered this weekend at Gulfstream, but one each Friday and Saturday at Hollywood Park