Gulfstream Place To Be To Watch and Wager On Holiday Races

Gulfstream Place To Be To Watch and Wager On Holiday Races

05/26/2011

 Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino, home to Florida’s most luxurious simulcast center, will again be the place to watch and wager on the biggest races from around the country this Memorial Day weekend.

And, as usual, the majority of those races will be filled with Gulfstream Park alumni.

The biggest race of the holiday weekend will be the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park on Memorial Day. The 119th-running of the mile event is expected to draw an all-star cast including Palm Meadows resident and Carter Handicap (G1) winner Morning Line. The Nick Zito-trained colt started his 4-year-old season by finishing second in Gulfstream’s Donn Handicap (G1) and third in the Hal’s Hope (G3).

The Metropolitan is also expected to see Gulfstream’s three-time stakes winner Tackleberry and Hal’s Hope winner Soaring Empire.

Tackleberry, trained by South Florida’s Luis Olivares, became one of Gulfstream’s big stories during the historic 2011 meet. After finishing fourth in the Hal’s Hope, the 4-year-old gelding won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) and Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2). Tackleberry comes into the Metropolitan off a fourth-place finish April 16 in the $1 million Charles Town Classic.

“He might not have handled the track,” said Olivares of the gelding’s last start. “I don’t think it was the (three) turns. It’s possible he might have bled a little.”

Soaring Empire, trained by Cam Gambolati, finished second to Tackleberry in Gulfstream’s Sprint Championship and Gulfstream Park ‘Cap.

Belmont’s Memorial Day program also includes the 1 1/16th mile Sands Point (G2). The turf event is expected to draw the multiple graded winner Winter Memories, who wintered at Palm Meadows.

On Saturday, Belmont’s card will include the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay (G2) for fillies and mares over a 1 3/8th turf course. The field includes Gulfstream’s Orchid (G3) winner La Luna de Miel, Giants Play, who finished third in the Orchid, and Yellow Ribbon (G1) winner Hibaayeb, who finished third in a 1 1/16th mile optional claimer on the turf April 2 at Gulfstream.

“It was a good race,” said trainer Rick Mettee. “Eight-and-a-half furlongs we knew was going to be too short. She stalked the pace and got a little tired towards the end, which we knew she would coming off the layoff. She had a good winter down at Palm Meadows.”

On Monday, Monmouth Park will play host to its first graded stakes race of the season in the $150,000 Violet Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares. One of the likely favorites will be Marquet Madness. Trained by Mary Hartmann, Marquet Madness raced five times at Gulfstream over the winter, winning three of those starts with one second and a third.

At Churchill Downs, the 5-year-old mare Keertana, winner of Gulfstream’s The Very One (G3), will take on the boys Saturday in the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3). Her opponents will include Musketier, third in Gulfstream’s Mac Diarmida (G2) and second in the Pan American (G3). On Memorial Day, Churchill’s feature will be the Winning Colors (G3).

The weekend at Hollywood Park kicks off with Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap (G3). On Monday, Hollywood will play host to the Gamely (G1) and Los Angeles Handicap (G3).