Prominent Owner and Trainer Combo Enter Four for Two Juvenile Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold have been well-represented in juvenile stakes in South Florida in recent years. They have also been frequent visitors to the winner’s circle.
Jackson Bend, Awesome Feather and Fort Loudon, most notably, all parlayed sweeps of their respective divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes into graded-stakes success.
Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm and Gold will once again be prominent participants as the juvenile stakes season in South Florida kicks off at Gulfstream Park Saturday with the runnings of the $75,000 Birdonthewire and the $75,000 Cassidy. The winning combination entered two horses in each of the 5 ½-furlong stakes.
Of Course, a recent maiden winner, and Sing Praises, who recently finished a troubled second in his debut, were entered in the Birdonthewire, carded as the ninth race on an 11-race program. Dogwood Trail, who captured her debut by nearly six lengths under a hand ride, and Standard Deal, a 5 ¼-length winner in her second start, were tabbed for the Cassidy, carded as the 10th race.
Of Course and Sing Praises are set to clash with nine other 2-year-olds, including Dekabrist, the likely favorite who broke the track record for 4 ½ furlongs in his debut and came back to win an overnight stakes at Gulfstream in his second start.
After finishing third and fourth in his first two races, Of Course broke through with a hard-fought narrow score last time out at Gulfstream. Gold reported that the son of Awesome of Course had been found through an endoscopic exam following his second race to have bled, before rebounding impressively while treated with Lasix last time out.
“That horse can run. If he does what he’s been doing in the morning, I’m not worried about anyone,” said Gold, whose trainee breezed a bullet half-mile subsequent to his maiden-breaking win.
Sing Praises finished second behind well-regarded Street Rage in his recent debut, in which he had trouble at the starting gate.
“They tailed him because he didn’t want to get in the gate. He was acting up in the gate. He’s quick, but he walked out of the gate. He spotted the field and then, on his own, he was head-and-head for the lead. He finished second,” Gold said. “I’ve had him at the gate three or four times now and he’s still acting up. He’s OK in, but he’s acting up going in. If he gets in, he can run.”
Sing Praise nor any of the other 10 horses can afford to make a mistake in the well-stocked Birdonthewire, which is shaping up as a most competitive race. In addition to Dekabrist, trainer Gennadi Dorochenko entered Kulak, a first-out winner who finished third behind his stablemate in the Kodiak Island last time out, and Kutuzov, a two-time runner-up looking for his first win. I’m Venezuelan, runner-up to Dekabrist in the Kodiak Island, and the Kathleen O’Connell-trained maiden winners,Wicked Rascal and Vespertini, rate among the top contenders.
On the 2-year-old filly side, the Gold-trained Dogwood Trail looms as the favorite in a field of 14 and one also-eligible for the Cassidy. The daughter of Awesome of Course turned in a stellar debut on May 31, scoring by 5 ¾ lengths while running 4 ½ furlongs in 51.50 seconds. Gold had viewed Dogwood Trail as a filly to watch from Day One.
“Before we ever sent the horse to the track, just looking at her, I said, ‘This is the one.’ Maybe we were right, but Standard Deal ran a pretty bang-up race, too,” Gold said. “I just liked the looks of her. No science behind it. Lucky Guess.”
Standard Deal finished a close third in her debut before returning with blinkers and Lasix to romp by 5 ¼ lengths.
“She looks like the real deal. The day that she won, she ran five-eighths faster than Dekabrist when he won the stake that day,” said Gold, whose trainee ran five furlongs in 58.82 seconds while breaking her maiden on the same card that Dekabrist turned in a five-furlong fraction of 58.91 seconds on his way to a 5 ½-furlong clocking of 1:05.64.
Dogwood Trail and Standard Deal will be sternly tested in the Cassidy by the promising likes of Naval Command and Curlin’s Princess, among several other contenders. The Bill Kaplan-trained Naval Command overcame a slow start to capture her debut over a sloppy track. The Marty Wolfson-trained Curlin’s Princess followed up a green runner-up in her debut with a sharp 4 ½-length victory while equipped with blinkers.
O’Connell and Dorochenko also have multiple entries in the Cassidy, as well as the Birdonthewire. O’Connell and owner/breeder Gil Campbell will be represented by Coco’s Wildcat, a debut winner by three lengths, and I’m a Good Looker, a debut winner at Calder by 9 ¼ lengths. Dorchenko and Raut LLC have entered Artistic Touch and Ryabinka, both recent winners, as well as also-eligible Wild Paris, a maiden.