HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park's Eclipse Awards Weekend kicked off Thursday when Mucho Macho Man, finalist for Horse of the Year and the 2-5 favorite in Saturday's $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, schooled in the walking ring during the first race.
"He came out of his win in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) great and he's coming into this race great," said trainer Kathy Ritvo as she watched Mucho Macho Man school in a walking ring surrounded by fans. "It's going to be an exciting day."
Gulfstream, playing host to the Eclipse Awards for the second consecutive year Saturday night, will also play host to the Eclipse 'Celebration of the Thoroughbred' Party Friday evening,. The event, which begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public at 8 p.m. for a $20 donation to Thoroughbred Aftercare, will be an elaborate party with live and silent auctions. Auction items include trips to the 2014 Breeders' Cup, 2014 Preakness and 2014 Florida Derby; Miami Heat and Florida Panthers packages, hotel and spa packages, a painting of Horse of the Year Wise Dan by noted equine artist Robert Clark, signed guitars by Sarah Evans and Little Big Town, and 16 stallion seasons. The event will take place in Gulfstream's walking ring.
Saturday morning will kick off with Breakfast at Gulfstream followed by an 11-race program that will include the $1.3 million Sunshine Millions. After the races, the stars of Thoroughbred racing will take center stage for the prestigious Eclipse Awards in Sport of Kings. The live HRTV broadcast of the ceremony will be broadcast in the Gulfstream walking ring.
Hartford Impressive In Debut
Another week, another impressive Tapit colt breaking his maiden for trainer Todd A. Pletcher at Gulfstream Park. Last Saturday, Constitution overcame a tardy start to win first out for WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing. Hartford was scratched out of that race, but duly took his spot in the winner’s circle today with an effortless performance in the fifth race for owner Stonestreet Stables.
Acquired as a yearling for $700,000, Hartford had been training smartly and took most of the money in the eight-horse field as the 1-2 chalk. He didn’t have the most alert of breaks but got into stride and went up to press the pace. The towering gray colt took over entering the stretch and opened up under a motionless Javier Castellano en route to a 5 ¾-length triumph. The final time for the seven furlongs was 1:24.47. H Town Brown completed the exacta for the third straight time, while pacesetter Borseggiatore stuck around for third.
“That was what we’d hoped for,” Pletcher said. “He had trained well. I thought he did everything right. He did break a half-step slow, but he recovered quickly and put himself in a nice spot, and he finished well.” Stonestreet owner Barbara Banke was on hand in the winner’s circle, along with her racing manager, John Moynihan. Hartford had drawn the rail when entered against stablemate Constitution last weekend, and Pletcher confirmed that was the reason for his withdrawal.
“We drew the one hole and didn’t want to do that,” Pletcher said. “We were fortunate that this race went. We’ll see how he comes out of it and then make a plan.”
The most expensive Tapit yearling sold in 2012, Hartford is a full-sibling to Tempted to Tapit, who placed in a pair of graded stakes as a 3-year-old; and Dance Card, the 2012 Gazelle Stakes (G1) heroine that was most recently third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Who's Hot: Two-time defending Gulfstream champion Javier Castellano added three wins to his meet-leading total: Hartford ($3) in the fifth, Longhunter ($6.80) in the seventh and Believe in Charlie ($31.20) in the eighth.
Paco Lopez visited the winner's circle twice with Yes I'm Sweet ($12.80) in the second and Cozy Kitten ($38.80) in the ninth.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $45,883.73