Gulfstream Park News & Notes - April 10
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Bob and Victoria Bayer and Jonathan Metcalf’s 3-year-old filly Victoria’s Wildcat breezed a half-mile in 52 over the Gulfstream Park turf course Sunday morning, and trainer Bob Hess, Jr. said he was “eye-balling” a start for her in next Saturday’s $60,000 South Beach Stakes at 7 ½ furlongs on turf against older fillies and mares.
Victoria’s Wildcat is a daughter of Bellamy Road, sire of Saturday’s Wood Memorial (G1) winner Toby’s Corner, and won her season debut going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track here on Mar. 19 while overcoming a poor start. The race marked her first start since an allowance victory at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27 when she was a maiden.
A $20,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Victoria’s Wildcat began her career in California finishing fourth in two tries at Del Mar last summer, came east in the fall to finish fourth in a Keeneland allowance in mid-October and finished second in a maiden special at Churchill in late October before winning for the first time in the allowance race.
Sunday morning’s workout was the third for the filly on turf, but the South Beach would be her first race on grass. “She’s a neat filly and my feeling is that she probably will prefer turf as time goes along,” said the trainer, who is stabled at Gulfstream for the first time after years based in Southern California.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux has ridden Victoria’s Wildcat in her last three starts, but will be replaced as he is now based at Keeneland. The likely favorite for the South Beach will probably be Farnsworth Stables’ 6-year-old mare Cherokee Queen, winner of the Suwannee River Stakes (G3) earlier in the meet for trainer Marty Wolfson.
Velazquez Back for Sunday Card; Still Leads Standings
Jockey John R. Velazquez returns to ride at Gulfstream Park Sunday with Candy DeBartolo’s 6-year-old mare Life At Ten set to make her season debut for trainer Todd Pletcher in the fifth race allowance after an up-and-down day at Aqueduct Saturday.
Velazquez guided Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s 4-year-old Morning Line to victory in the Carter Handicap (G1), but a race later was aboard Repole Stable’s 3-year-old previously undefeated Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Uncle Mo as he finished a disappointing third as the 1-to-10 favorite in the Wood Memorial (G1).
Velazquez, leading jockey at Gulfstream for the 2004 and 2006 meets, remains atop the standings this season going into Sunday’s program with 64 victories, four more than defending meet titlist Paco Lopez second with 60. However, Lopez will likely take command during the last nine racing days before closing on Sun., Apr. 24 with Velazquez not likely to return this season.
Pletcher appears to have an eighth consecutive Gulfstram meet title wrapped up with 47 victories, 21 more than closest rival Nick Canani second with 26. David Fawkes has had a strong season to rank third with 18 wins, followed by Chad Brown fourth at 17 and Eddie Plesa, Jr. fifth with 16.