Soldat Back on Home Turf Sunday at Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Soldat will make his return to the site of his finest moment when he goes to post in Sunday’s sixth race at Gulfstream Park, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s objective for his 4-year-old colt has changed from a year ago.
Last year, McLaughlin was determined to let Soldat prove himself on Gulfstream’s main track, over which he captured the Fountain of Youth (G2) to earn a shot in the Kentucky Derby. If his trainer has his way this year, Soldat will never see action on dirt again.
“We’re going to go on the turf Sunday and stay on the turf with him,” McLaughlin said. “We think he’s better on turf.”
Soldat followed up his Fountain of Youth triumph with a fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby (G1) and an 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby before being sidelined for the remainder of the year. As a 2-year-old, Soldat won the With Anticipation (G3) on the Saratoga turf and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs.
“He’s training very well,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a nice horse and we just hope he runs well in his first start back
Soldat, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time, has been installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight entered in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.
McLaughlin left open a slight possibility that Soldat could run on dirt again sometime in the future.
“We might, but I hope not,” he said. “I hope he goes well on the turf and we find a lot of Grade 1s on the turf for him,”
Cajun Breeze Probable for Gulfstream Park Handicap
Shadybrook Farm and Robert Eversole’s 4-year-old Cajun Breeze, runner-up in the Sunshine Millions Sprint last out on Jan. 28, worked six furlongs in 1:14 4/5 Thursday morning at Calder and may join what appears to be a small but very talented field expected for next Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), according to trainer Michael Yates.
“He worked very well here and we’re seriously considering running him, although I know there will be some very tough horses in there,” said Yates Friday morning. “He ran very well in the Sunshine Millions and I’m confident that he will appreciate going the longer distance (one mile).”
A Florida-bred by Congrats, Cajun Breeze rallied from seventh of eight to finish second by a half-length behind Soaring Stocks in the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Sprint, his fourth career start and third at the meet.
Cajun Breeze finished third in his debut in October of 2010, but was sidelined with shin problems until finishing second in a maiden special here 14 months later on Dec. 10. His third start was the charm when he broke his maiden by 1 ¼ lengths as the favorite on Dec. 30, beating a strong field going 6 ½ furlongs.
The only confirmed starters for the 70th edition of the Gulfstream Park Handicap at this point are Reeves Thoroughbred and partners’ Mucho Macho Man, Robert LaPenta and Jacks or Better Farm’s Jackson Bend, Luis Olivares’ Tackleberry and Jay Em Ess Stable and partners’ Boys At Tosconova.
Mucho Macho Man worked a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 58 4/5 Friday morning at Gulfstream for trainer Kathy Ritvo as the son of Macho Uno prepares to bid for a second major victory at the meet following his impressive score in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28.
Velazquez, Lezcano and Others Make Saturday Day Trips
Several prominent jockeys on the Gulfstream Park meet leader board will miss Saturday’s program for stakes mounts out of town before returning Sunday.
John Velazquez, second in the standings at Gulfstream, rides Zayat Stable’s Dan and Sheila in the $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) for trainer Todd Pletcher. Other Gulfstream-based jockeys at Aqueduct Saturday with mounts in the Gotham and other Graded stakes on the card include Elvis Trujillo, Luis Contreras, Rajiv Maragh, Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado.
Seven of the 13 3-year-olds entered in the Gotham have made at least one start at the Gulfstream meet, including Hansen and My Adonis, second and third, respectively, behind Algorithms in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 29.
Jose Lezcano will also head out of town with a mount in the Santa Anita Handicap in Brous Stable and partners’ 5-year-old Ron the Greek, runner-up to Mucho Macho Man in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan. 28 for trainer Bill Mott.
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