HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – When Stanley Gold saddled Sing Praises for a dominating victory in the $100,000 Dr. Fager, the first leg of the 2014 Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the veteran trainer joined exclusive company in the annals of the series for 2-year-olds by Florida-based stallions.
When he defeated stablemate Of Course by 1 ¾ lengths on Aug. 9, Sing Praises provided his trainer with his 14th victory in Florida Sire Stakes races, putting him alongside local legend Frank Gomez. Sing Praises’ triumph also gave his owner/breeder, Jacks or Better Farm, a 14th success in the series that was inaugurated in 1982 and moved to Gulfstream this year.
“That means a lot, because I knew Frank. It’s a record that nobody’s been near for a while. I’m sure if I can get past him, somebody will get past me in the future,” Gold said. “When you train for people who support the Florida program real big, my success is their success and their success is my success.”
Gold is scheduled to have six solid shots at No. 15, including Sing Praises in the $250,000 Affirmed Stakes, at Gulfstream on Saturday. Sing Praises debuted with a troubled second-place finish on June 29 before breaking his maiden with a 5 ½-length romp at 20-1 in the $91,250 Birdonthewire Stakes on July 12. Favored at 1-2 in the Dr. Fager while stretching out from 5 ½ furlongs to 6 furlongs, the son of Hear No Evil posted a front-running triumph while outrunning his stablemate.
“He keeps impressing me because he keeps doing things so easy. When you think it might not have anything left you find out that he’s not even near the bottom of the tank and he explodes for you. He’s been doing that in his works. His last work was 58-change (seconds) and he was just loose-reining it. When the rider chirped to him, he just took off,” said Gold, who entered three fillies for Saturday’s $250,000 Susan’s Girl. “I don’t know how good he is. He’s good.”
Ramsey Zimmerman, who has been aboard the Florida-bred colt for all three of his starts, has the return mount in the seven-furlong Affirmed. Sing Praises will be accompanied in the starting gate by a pair of solid contenders in stablemates Of Course and Twotwentyfive A. Of Course, who closed 2 ¾ lengths on Sing Praises through the stretch, finished 3 ¼ lengths clear of the third-place finisher in the Dr. Fager. Twotwentyfive A got a little later start than his two stablemates but he demonstrated immense talent in the Aug. 3 debut, in which he closed from off the pace and drew away to a 3 ¾-length victory.
“He belongs in there,” said Gold, who named Edgard Zayas to ride Of Course and Abdiel Jaen to ride Twotwentyfive A.
The Kathleen O’Connell-trained duo of Jaiden’s Best and Wayne’s Way, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Dr. Fager, were both entered in the Affirmed. While five other new faces are slated to join Twentyfive A in the starting gate.
Joe Calascibetta, who saddled D’nied Permission for a victory in the 2012 Affirmed Stakes, entered maiden Bwana Dance for the tall task of taking on the Gold-trained trio.
“Stanley’s always tough in the (Sire) Stakes and they always have nice horses, but things happen in horses races,” Calascibetta said. “I just have to hope they get entertained up front a bit and some will get tired and we can pick up the pieces at the end.”
An also-ran in his first two starts at five and six furlongs, Bwana Dance closed well to finish second in his most recent start at a mile.
“This race here, we’re sort of taking a flyer with him, because seven-eighths is a little bit short for him,” Calascibetta said. “But I’m hoping for a very contentious pace and maybe some of the speed will tire a little bit and we can pick up some pieces. He’ll be running at the end.”
Trainer Ralph Nicks also entered a promising maiden in Rockinatten, who finished second, a half-length behind the winner, in his debut at Gulfstream on Aug. 24.
Keyed for Speed and Boozin Time, who both scored impressive maiden-breaking wins in claiming races last time out, were entered in the Affirmed. The Bill White-trained Key for Speed beat $35,000 claiming maidens by 11 ½ lengths, while Wesley Ward-trained Boozin Time notched an eight-length romp over $16,000 claimers.
Maiden Jack’s Comprise rounds out the 10-horse field.