Gulfstream Park News & Notes

Gulfstream Park News & Notes


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -Normandy Invasion continued to please his connections on Sunday morning, emerging from Saturday’s record-setting return to the races in fine fashion, trainer Chad Brown said.            

Making his first start since finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last May, Normandy Invasion rolled by 7 ¾ lengths in his comeback. His time of 1:33.13 for one mile broke the main track record of 1:33.71 set by Commentator in 2008.            

“He came out of his race in good shape so far,” Brown said. “We were very pleased with his performance. It was great to see the horse get back to the races. Hopefully, this will be a good start to the year for him.”            

A foot abscess and other minor ailments cut Normandy Invasion’s 3-year-old season short, but he had been breezing steadily since late December at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.            

“He really exceeded all expectations,” Brown said. “Thankfully, he looked good this morning when he came back. It’s on to bigger races, hopefully.”            

Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms mentioned both the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds on March 29 and the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park on April 12 as possible next starts. Both races are run at 1 1/8 miles.            

“We’re going to see how the horse trains before we commit him to a race,” Brown said, “but we’re keeping all of our options open.”            

Coup de Grace, 10thof 11 from the rail in the $400,000 Miller Lite Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream on Jan. 25, worked a half-mile in 48.45 seconds Sunday morning at Palm Meadows for Brown. The 3-year-old Tapit colt, also owned by Fox Hill, is nominated to Saturday’s $150,000 Swale (G2) at seven furlongs.            

“He breezed really well,” Brown said. “We still don’t know exactly where we’re going to run him yet. We’re discussing that with Mr. Porter, so we’re just going to take it day-by-day with him.”            

Brown said both Storming Inti, a winner of four straight races including a pair of Gulfstream stakes, and French import Pleuven are both under consideration for the $150,000 Palm Beach (G3), also on Saturday.                      Travelin Man Seeks Turf Score in Wednesday’s Silks Run Stakes                    

Travelin Man has distinguished himself as a solid stakes performer the past few years at Gulfstream Park, where he won the 2011 Swale (G2) and notched back-to-back victories in the Sir Shackleton Stakes in 2012-2013.            

Winless in four starts since winning last year’s Sir Shackleton, Travelin Man was given a change of scenery in his 2014 debut when he made the first start on turf in his 18-race career. “He’s an older horse,” trainer Todd Pletcher said, “and he needed some enthusiasm.” The 6-year-old career sprinter showed a lot of enthusiasm in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on Feb. 1.

Although he didn’t win the 5-furlong dash on grass, Travelin Man earned a lot of respect by overcoming a bumping incident and subsequent traffic to close from dead last in the 10-horse field to finish second to Wicked Tune.

Travelin Man missed earning a trip to the winner’s circle by just three-quarters of a length. “I thought he ran very well and, hopefully, he’ll improve having that race under his belt,” Pletcher said. “He’s seems to have taken to turf.”

Travelin Man will have another opportunity to add a turf stakes to his collection of stakes victories in Wednesday’s $75,000 Silks Run Stakes, slated for five furlongs over Gulfstream’s turf course. For the present, Pletcher is concentrating on a turf schedule for the E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred, whose was installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 10 for the Silks Run. “He’d be one of those that if the race came off the turf, you’d certainly have to take a look at running,” said Pletcher, well on his way to an unprecedented 11th straight training title at Gulfstream. 

While Travelin Man passed the grass test last time out, Speechify will be put to the test in the Silks Run. The 4-year-old  son of Harlan’s Holiday has shown an affinity for the Gulfstream Park main track since romping to victory in his debut by 10 ½ lengths on Aug. 24. After winning right back in an entry level allowance at six-furlongs, he finished a distant fourth in a mile race. Turned back to six furlongs, he finished second behind Happy My Way, before scoring an allowance triumph going 5 ½ furlongs last time out.

“We ran him a mile and he really didn’t show an affinity for that.  He’s more of a sprinting type. I’ve worked him on the grass before, being a son of Harlan’s Holiday,” trainer Ralph Nicks said. “It’s a tough place to try the grass, but he’s worked well, his pedigree says it, and I think he’s a sprinter type “ Speechify has drawn the No. 1 post position, three stalls inside Travelin Man and one inside Varsity, who is rated second at 7-2. “That’s against us. I’d prefer the ‘seven’ or ‘eight,’ because now you’re forced into one dimension,” Nicks said. “He’s a solid little horse that tries every time.” Varsity has shown a distinct fondness for the Gulfstream turf course having never been worse than second in six starts, including a triumph in the 2013 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.

Also figuring prominently in the Silks Run: Wicked Tune, who has won three of four starts over the Gulfstream turf; Partyallnightlong, who defeated Varsity before finishing a solid fourth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint; The Brothers War, a French import who will be making his second U.S. start and first with Lasix.            

Mucho Macho Man Heads West for Santa Anita Handicap Mucho Macho Man boarded a van on the Gulfstream Park barn area at 9 a.m. Sunday morning before embarking on a cross-country flight for Southern California. The 6-year-old son of Macho Uno is scheduled for a return engagement at Santa Anita Park, where he captured the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose over Will Take Charge in November.

The Kathy Ritvo-trained Mucho Macho Man is slated to clash again with Will Take Charge, the runner-up in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 9, in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 8. Mucho Macho Man scored a 14-length victory in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic in his 2014 debut at Gulfstream on Jan.18. An undisclosed interest in Mucho Macho Man was purchased last week by Frank Stronach, but the son of Macho Uno will continue to race in the colors of Dean and Patti Reeves for his final racing season before starting his stallion career at Stonach’s Adena Springs.