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Gulfstream Today 12.19.2012
The Lead: A horse returning from a long layoff, as expected, won Wednesday’s fourth race at Gulfstream Park. However, it was Citrus Kid, who hadn’t raced in 15 months, who prevailed in the featured $60,000 optional claiming allowance. El Padrino, the 1-5 favorite who hadn’t raced since running in last year’s Kentucky Derby, ran well to finish second, 1 ½ lengths behind the 6-1 third betting choice.
“He’s a nice, nice horse,” said trainer John Terranova by phone from New York. “We were waiting for a spot to bring him back in and thought this race was a good spot.”
Although the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid had raced on turf for his previous eight races, Terranova had no qualms about bringing him back on the main track. Citrus Kid broke his maiden and won the Dover Stakes at Delaware Park and finished third in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on dirt prior to being switched to turf.
Citrus Kid, who was saddled by assistant trainer Reynaldo Abreu, was sent to the lead by Joe Rocco Jr. to set a pace contested by three horses, including El Padrino, along the backstretch. Despite being headed briefly by longshot Decisive Moment leaving the backstretch, Citrus Kid fought off all challenges to win the mile race in 1:36.33.
“My horse broke good. He wanted to be close. He was comfortable,” Rocco said.” I asked him coming off the turn and he responded. He wasn’t going to let the horse get by him today.”
El Padrino, who was shuffled back to fourth on the backstretch, made a wide move around the far turn under Javier Castellano to challenge Citrus Kid at the top of the stretch but came up short.
“He ran well. He’s a big, heavy horse. We thought he could need to run a time or two to get going again,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I’m pleased with what he did today.”
Citrus Kid, who won for the fifth time in 14 career starts, had suffered a soft-tissue injury during a second-place finish over a boggy Parx turf course in September 2011.
“He got over a big hurdle today. I’m glad he won, but I was just looking to get him back to the races,” Terranova said. “We’ll sit down and see how he comes out of the race before we make any decisions about his next race.”
Who’s Hot: Marcus Vitali saddled two winners on the card: Drop It Now ($11) in the fifth race and Jay Eye Cee ($11.80) in the seventh. The two winners moved Vitali into a second place tie with Pletcher, the nine-time defending champion in the trainer’s standings with five winners. Mike Maker leads with seven winners.
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