HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park track analyst Christina Bossinakis correctly selected the winners of the final eight races and nine of 10 overall on Friday’s program.
Bossinakis’ winners came with Tapit’s Brew ($3.60) in the first, Palatine Hill ($3.20) in the third, Take Time to Pray ($3.40) in the fourth, So Royal ($2.60) in the fifth, Big Island Boy ($10) in the sixth, My Novena ($16) in the seventh, Monument Hill ($9.20) in the eighth, Free as a Bird ($3.80) in the ninth and Very Playful ($14.80) in the finale.
Monument Hill Returns a WinnerIn picking out a spot to bring Monument Hill back for his 8-year-old campaign, trainer George Weaver never looked any further than Gulfstream Park.
Making his first start in seven months, the gelded son of Royal Academy returned to his favorite track with a 1 ¼-length victory in today’s eighth race, a $40,000 claiming event going 8 ½ furlongs on the grass.
Under Joel Rosario, Monument Hill rallied along the hedge to catch favored Tune Me In at the head of the stretch and pull away to win in 1:41.18 on a turf course where he has five wins, three seconds and a third in 10 lifetime starts.
“He’s always run his best races at Gulfstream. I wish I could just keep him here and run on this turf all the time,” Weaver said. “He’s really a fan of this course. He’s getting older now, but I’m glad to see that he came back and showed he’s still good at this level as old as he is.”
Monument Hill was last seen finishing fourth by a length in an optional claiming allowance at Saratoga Race Course last August. He ran three times at last year’s Champions meet, finishing third in the Appleton (G3).
Second choice in the field of seven at 7-2, Monument Hill ($9.20) he has seven wins from 24 career starts with $300,725 in purse earnings.
“We’ve had him for a long time and when he gets a little ouchy, we just back off of him and let him regroup and get the gas tank full again,” Weaver said. “We get a little bit attached to him. He’s been in our barn since he was a 2-year-old. My wife gets on him, and it’s very rare that we get to be around a horse and get to know him over that long a period of time. He’s one of our favorites and we’ve have a lot of fun with him, so we’re happy.”
Free as a Bird Soars to WinSecond by a neck in her seasonal debut last month, Free as a Bird used a late surge to fly past White Sangria and Perfect Package on the outside and win today’s ninth race, a $51,750 optional claiming allowance.
Trained by Ian Wilkes for Elizabeth Valando, favored Free as a Bird ($3.80) ran five furlongs on the turf course in 54.71 seconds for his first win since last February, also at Gulfstream.
Jockey Julien Leparoux was in the irons replacing regular rider Edgar Prado. The Hall of Fame jockey went down in a spill at Gulfstream on Sunday and has yet to return with a bruised shoulder.
Busy Morning for Florida Derby Contenders on SaturdayNearly all of the contenders for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) will post their final drills tomorrow morning for the marquee event on March 29. WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing's Constitution, who will be making his stakes debut in the nine-furlong Florida Derby, will breeze shortly after 8 a.m. at the Palm Meadows training center.
The son of Tapit is unbeaten in two outings at Gulfstream, having overcome a troubled break in his sprint victory on Jan. 11 before leading every step against a strong group of 3-year-olds in a two-turn allowance on Feb. 22. He covered five-eighths in 1:01 2/5 last Saturday at Palm Meadows.
“That was good from him (last Saturday) and he'll breeze again tomorrow,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Knock on wood, everything is on schedule.”
A $400,000 yearling purchase, Constitution will have the services of leading jockey Javier Castellano in the Florida Derby, where he will face off with Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes (G2) hero Cairo Prince and the speedy one-two finishers in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), Wildcat Red and General a Rod. While Pletcher said that he doesn't foresee the nine-furlong distance as an obstacle for his lightly raced charge, he hopes that the swift colt will get a chance to display his true talent.“The key will be getting a good position out of the gate,” Pletcher explained. “It looks like it's going to be a race with plenty of speed. I think he'll settle if the post position is right and he can get a break, and get to the first turn in the right kind of position.”
Wildcat Red and General a Rod will both work after the first break at Gulfstream tomorrow. The unbeaten Social Inclusion will also go out at that time for his first timed drill since earning a 111 Beyer Speed Figure at Gulfstream on Mar. 12. In addition to Constitution, other Florida Derby contenders scheduled to breeze at Palm Meadows include Cairo Prince, Matador and Spot.
Rainbow 6 Grows to $3.6 Million
Unsolved for the 50thconsecutive racing day, the 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a carryover of $3,628,691 heading into Saturday’s 11-race card. Post time is 1:05 p.m.
A total of $407,712 was bet into the pool for the Rainbow 6, the popular multi-race wager which requires a bettor to hold the only ticket with the winner of the day’s final six races to take down the jackpot. It has not been paid out in its entirety since Jan. 10, when it was cashed for $30,670.26.
When there is no single jackpot winner, 70 percent of the pool is paid out while 30 percent goes back into the carryover. Today’s winning 2-4-1-2-3-10 combination returned $1,165.78.
The record payout for the 20-cent Rainbow 6 is $3,591,245.44 to a New Jersey bettor on Feb. 22, 2013.Who’s Hot: Jockey Paco Lopez was a three-time winner with Eire En Pointge ($14.40) in the second, My Novena ($16) in the seventh and Monument Hill in the eighth. Record-setting meet leading rider Javier Castellano had back-to-back winners with Palatine Hill ($3.20) in the third and Take Time to Pray ($3.40) in the fourth, while Corey Lanerie was first with Big Island Boy ($10) in the sixth and Very Playful ($) in the 10th. Trainer George Weaver won with both of his starts on the day, Eire En Pointe and Monument Hill.
Rainbow 6 carryover: $3,628,691.74