Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL- Mr Speaker will get back on turf for the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park Saturday. The dark bay colt made a dashing rally up the fence to win the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (G3) on the sod in December, but trainer Shug McGaughey opted to experiment with the main track for the $400,000 Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on January 25. Though forwardly placed early in that competitive test, the 3-year-old son of Pulpit didn't find another gear and tired to finish seventh, 10 3/4 lengths behind the romping winner Cairo Prince.
The Phipps Stable homebred will race with Lasix for the first time in the nine-furlong Palm Beach, and jockey Jose Lezcano will have the return call.
"He wants the grass," McGaughey said. "I took a shot in the Holy Bull, and he didn't run that bad. I think when (Lezcano) started riding him, that's when the grass part of him kicked in. So I'm looking forward to getting him back on the grass on Saturday and, everything being equal, we'll make our way back to Belmont." McGaughey indicated that Mr Speaker would also be considered for the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on Keeneland's Polytrack on April 12.
"We'll nominate him there, but they've got some awfully good races at Belmont," McGaughey offered. "Now there's that million-dollar race on Fourth of July weekend (the $1.25-million Belmont Derby [G1]), and there's a couple of good 3-year-old races at Saratoga. The Phippses like to key on Belmont and Saratoga, so I'd like to have a fresh horse for that."
Also in the McGaughey shedrow is Honor Code, the winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1) who is nearing a return to action. The son of A.P. Indy worked a half-mile in :52.06 at Gulfstream on Tuesday. "I'm really happy with him--I think every day is better than the last," McGaughey offered "I jogged him Wednesday and he galloped great (Thursday) ."
Honor Code has not faced the starter since edging Cairo Prince in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct in November, and McGaughey suggested that the sophomore will get back on track in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 15.
"I'm going to work him again over the weekend and will probably put him in company," McGaughey said. "I'd like to have Javier (Castellano) come out and do it. I'll make up my mind after that."
McGaughey indicated that he will wait a few weeks before deciding whether Top Billing will contest the $1-million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 29. In his stakes debut, the chestnut colt delivered his usual late-running performance to finish third behind dueling pacesetters Wildcat Red and General a Rod in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last Saturday.
"He's come out of his race really well," the horseman said. "The track was quick all week and you could see it was speed-favoring on Saturday. The Florida Derby is where I would like to run him, but I'm going to wait and see what the track's like and how he bounces out of it. I'd prefer to run here."
Csaba Set for Another Try on Turf in Saturday Allowance
Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s Csaba has won seven stakes and more than $500,000 during a career in which he has had the distinction of being a rare offspring of Kitten’s Joy that didn’t relish the footing on turf. Kitten’s Joy was not only the leading grass stallion of 2013, he ranked as the No. 1 stallion in the country overall due mainly to his progeny’s dominance on turf. Csaba, though, hasn’t shown the same affinity for grass racing as his sire’s other offspring.
Winless in three starts on grass during his eventful 27-race career, Csaba was entered for one more test on turf in Saturday’s eighth race over the Gulfstream turf course.
“After a little break from the races, and with nothing else for him for him right now on the dirt, we thought this would be a good opportunity to try him on the grass,” trainer Phil Gleaves said. “We’ll run him either way, if it rains and the race is taken off the grass, but we’d actually like it to remain on grass to find out how he fits with these horses on turf.”
Csaba, who has won the 2013 Hal’s Hope (G3) and Harlan’s Holiday over Gulfstream’s main track, ran off the board in the 2012 Dania Beach in his first start on turf before finishing sixth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) on dirt. Back on turf, Csaba finished third in the Palm Beach (G3) behind Howe Great and Dullahan. He returned to dirt and became a stakes winner before one last shot at grass in an overnight stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 30, 2012, when he finished ninth.
“The Palm Beach was a good race. It was the best of the races that we tried him on grass. The other two were not so good, quite frankly,” Gleaves said. “But that race was enough to make us want to try him again. We have nothing to lose. If he doesn’t run well, we’ll put the discussion to bed. If he does run well, it opens up a whole new set of opportunities for us.”
Csaba figures to be sternly tested in his return to turf in the 1 1/16-mile allowance against the likes of Newsdad, War Dancer and four other graded-stakes winners. Lochte, the recent winner of the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) could be added to the mix should he escape the also-eligible list.
Pletcher Hopes Race Honoring Caixa Eletronica "Sticks Around"
Six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher will always have a soft spot for Caixa Eletronica, a former claimer turned graded stakes winner that was lost in freak training accident this winter at the age of 9. Gulfstream Park, where Pletcher is on his way to an unprecedented 11thconsecutive training title, will run the $75,000 Caixa Eletronica overnight stakes for older sprinters on Sunday.
“It’s cool. He certainly deserves it,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, it’s a race that sticks around for a while, because he’s worthy of having a race named after him.”
Pletcher remembered Caixa Eletronica in his remarks when accepting the Eclipse Award at the Jan. 18 ceremony, held for the second straight year in the Sport of Kings Theater at Gulfstream.
“To me, Caixa Eletronica personified everything that was terrific about this game,” Pletcher said. “You can take a horse from a very modest beginning, modest breeding, and compete at the highest level. We’ll certainly miss him. He’s an all-time favorite.”
Pletcher claimed Caixa Eletronica for $62,500 at Gulfstream Park on March 9, 2011 on behalf of owner Mike Repole. The gelded son of Arromanches won 11 of 29 races and purses of $1,601,800 for his new connections, taking seven stakes, including the Fall Highweight (G3), True North (G2) and Charles Town Classic (G2) in 2012 and Westchester (G3) in 2011.
Overall, Caixa Eletronica won 23 races and nearly $1.9 million in purses from 69 starts. He raced 13 times at Gulfstream with a record of 3-4-2, running sixth in the Hal’s Hope (G3) and third in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) in 2011 before being claimed.
“I’m not [running] and I wish I was. We nominated a few just hoping, but it didn’t work out,” Pletcher said. “When Mike Repole saw the race he was like, ‘Man, I wish we had something to run in there,’ but we just don’t.”