HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -- In addition to a pair of graded stakes events on grass, Saturday's card at Gulfstream Park will feature several maiden races for choicely pedigreed 3-year-olds in their nascent careers. Sophomore fillies will get their chance to earn their diploma in the fifth race, a $47,000 maiden special weight going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track, while their male counterparts take the spotlight in the next two races on the program.
The sixth race, a mile test on the turf worth $47,000, attracted an eight-horse field. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will unveil Unikat, a son of leading international sire Galileo out of the stakes-winning mare Dreamtheimpossible. A daughter of Giant's Causeway and Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) heroine Spain, Dreamtheimpossible was purchased for $2.55 million by Adena Springs with Unikat in utero. The bay colt has a series of works on the turf at Palm Meadows, and tuned up for his debut by breezing a half-mile on the dirt in :48 2/5 from the gate on February 11. Owned by Stronach Stables, the 3-year-old will break from the rail on Saturday with jockey Luis Saez taking the reins.
"He's working well," McLaughlin said. "He's a nervous type, but he's been training well and we're happy to get him started. He might need a race, because it's tough going a mile first time out; that's never easy. He's very well-bred. He just gets a little nervous, so first time out, shipping in and getting the one hole...we'll see. He sweats up a lot. We don't really worry about it, but this is a good spot to get him started."
Unikat is the second choice at 3-1 on the morning line. Listed at 6-1 is Charge Now, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver. The son of Tiznow and the A.P. Indy mare Supercharger will carry the colors of owner-breeder WinStar Farm, and has recorded a progressive series of morning moves at Payson Park for trainer Bill Mott.
"We wanted to get him started," Mott said. "There was no dirt race (going long) and I had two of them in the other dirt race (on Saturday). He's been working well."
Mott was referring to Athens and Mettlesome, who will go postward in Saturday's seventh race, a $47,000 maiden special weight to be run at seven furlongs on the main track.
Athens, purchased as a yearling for $550,000 by WinStar, will add blinkers for his second career start. In his debut at Gulfstream on January 11, the son of Giant's Causeway got away awkwardly on his way to a sixth-place finish behind the highly regarded Constitution. The half-brother to Grade I-winning sprinter Pomeroy has recorded four sharp drills at Gulfstream in the interim, including a bullet half-mile in :47 seconds this past Monday. "He's had a couple of nice works," Mott remarked. "We kept him down at Gulfstream just to keep him a little more familiar with his surroundings. He worked well over the track."
Jockey Joel Rosario has the return call aboard Athens, who drew the three hole and was installed as the 5-2 choice on the morning line.
Stablemate Mettlesome will break from post six in his career opener. A homebred for the Steinbrenner family's Kinsman Stable, he is a son of Medaglia d'Oro and Sweet Symphony. Mott also conditioned Sweet Symphony, who began her career with a four-race skein capped by the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
"He's doing okay," Mott said about Mettlesome. "We're waiting for the light to come on."
The 3-year-old, listed at 4-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by jockey Joe Bravo.