R Heat Lightning Drills 'Bullet' For Gulfstream Oaks
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Repole Stable’s 3-year-old colts Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty led a team of stakes talent trained by Todd Pletcher posting workouts Sunday morning at Palm Meadows while several others from the powerful stable others tuned up for other Graded stakes to be run on Florida Derby weekend next Saturday and Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 3-year-old filly R Heat Lightning drilled a ‘bullet’ half-mile in 47 ¾ for her role as the likely favorite in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on Saturday. The homebred daughter of Trippi ranked among the nation’s leading 2-year-old fillies last season and signaled her readiness to be a division leader this year winning the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) here on Feb. 26 by 7 ¼ lengths.
Another candidate for the Gulfstream Oaks was prominent on the work tab at Calder Race Course Sunday morning as Half Hollow Stable’s Beso Grande was timed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 for trainer Steve DiMauro. The daughter of Mass Media won a one-mile allowance over the Gulfstream track on Feb. 17 in her first start since finishing second in the Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies at Calder on Nov. 13.
Also working at Calder Sunday morning for a Gulfstream stakes next weekend was Harold Queen’s 3-year-old Little Drama, who was timed five-eighths in 1:03 for trainer David Fawkes. The son of Burning Roma finished third last out in the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 26 in his first start since October and is expected to contest the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2) next Sunday.
Long-Distance Stakes Veterans Meet in Thursday Feature
Haras Santa Maria de Araras’ 6-year-old homebred Simmard has made his last five starts in Graded stakes in New York, Canada and Florida with mixed success, and drops into an apparently softer spot Thursday at Gulfstream Park going 1 ½ miles on turf under ‘two other than’ optional/allowance conditions.
Simmard is entered for the $62,500 claiming option with jockey Javier Castellano named to ride after he finished seventh last out in the 11-furlong Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) over the course on Feb. 19, his first start since mid-December at Calder.
A son of Dixieland Band, Simmard scored his last victory in the Chief Bearheart Stakes at Woodbine in late October and ran a big race to finish third in the Bowling Green Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in September, beaten only a neck for it all by Al Khali with Winchester second between them.
Another turf marathon stakes veteran in the field of eight is Team Block’s 6-year-old gelding Free Fighter with Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. named to ride for trainer Chris Block. The Illinois homebred by Out of Place finished eighth in the Mac Diarmida and also is entered for the $62,500 tag on Thursday.
Free Fighter won the Stars and Stripe Handicap (G3) on turf at Arlington Park in 2009 going 12 furlongs and the Louisville Handicap (G3) over the same distance at Churchill Downs last May. Free Fighter ran a big race before the Mac Diarmida, finishing second to Prince Will I Am in the W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder on Dec. 18 after the race was forced off turf and run at 1 ¼ miles on a ‘sloppy’ main track.
Completing the field are Santa Cruz Ranch’s Black Scorpion, Edgar Prado; Haras Old Friends’ Mr. Universo, Manoel Cruz; Jim Tafel’s Sporty, Julien Leparoux; Peter Callahan’s Bigshot, John R. Velazquez; Jon and Sarah Kelly’s En Fuego, Joe Bravo; and John Chandler’s Thabazimbi, Kent Desormeaux.