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Square Eddie Bound for Donn Handicap
J. Paul Reddam’s 5-year-old Square Eddie made a sensational return to competition at Santa Anita on Jan. 14 as he drew off to win an allowance race by 3 ¼ lengths while setting a track record of 1:13 flat for 6 ½ furlongs in his first start in more than a year.
Plans call for the son of Smart Strike to make his next start in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Sat., Feb. 5, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.
“Corey Nakatani will be coming to ride him,” O’Neill said. “He had some very good race-like works going into the comeback race and worked a solid three-quarters eight days after that (1:12 3/5 on Jan. 22). He’s doing great and we’re looking forward to coming.”
O’Neill and Reddam teamed up to win the Donn Handicap in 2008 with Spring At Last, a son of Silver Deputy that was a 5-year-old at the time and co-owned by WinStar Farm. Spring At Last had won the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G1) on Dubai World Cup Day the year before. O’Neill indicated that a good effort for Square Eddie in the Donn could earn him a trip to the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March.
Stately Victor to Texas; Furthest Land Drills ‘Bullet’
Trainer Mike Maker has three accomplished older horses nominated for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) to be run on Sat., Feb. 5, but will be down to one or two options as he has Tom and Jack Conway’s 4-year-old Stately Victor entered in this Saturday’s $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Handicap (G3) at Sam Houston in Texas as the 2-to-1 morning line favorite with jockey Alan Garcia named to ride.
That leaves Maker’s chances for the Gulfsteam Turf to Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s pair of 6-year-old gelding Furthest Land and 4-year-old William’s Kitten, the former working a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 59 4/5 Friday morning at Gulfstream.
A son of Smart Strike, Furthest Land scored his biggest career victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita in November of 2009, but failed to win in only four starts last year, and hasn’t run since finishing a dull sixth in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 11.
Furthest Land finished a close-up fifth in the San Antonio Handicap (G2) in his second start of the season last year at Santa Anita in early February, earning a chance in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March, but failed to fire and trailed in last of 14. Furthest Land won three times with two seconds on turf earlier in his career, including a pair of allowance races over the Gulfstream course early in 2009.
William’s Kitten is a Kentucky homebred by the Ramsey’s Eclipse champion turf runner Kitten’s Joy with only nine career starts. William’s Kitten was on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail here early last year finishing third in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) behind Winslow Homer on Jan. 23, but was sidelined until exactly a year later when he finished seventh of nine in one-mile allowance here last Sunday after a ‘slow’ start.
As for Furthest Land, Maker said Friday morning his status for the Gulfstream Turf was “up in the air” at this point. “We stopped on him after the race at Churchill (Opening Verse). He was just still knocked out from the Dubai trip and needed a break.”
Stately Victor has trained steadily at Gulfstream over the last month in preparation for his 2011 debut and first start since losing a nose decision when second in the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park on Dec. 18. The son of Ghostzapper scored his biggest victory winning the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland last spring before finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Doubles Partner & Guys Reward Meet in Wednesday Feature
Wednesday’s $57,000 ‘three other than’ optional/allowance feature at Gulfstream Park attracted a wide-open field of nine older horses to go 1 1/16 miles on turf, several with Graded stakes credentials, including WinStar Farm’s 4-year-old Doubles Partner making his first start since finishing fourth in the rich Colonial Turf Cup (G2) at Colonial Downs in Virginia on June 19.
Jockey Julien Leparoux gets the call on Doubles Partner for trainer Todd Pletcher. The $450,000 Saratoga yearling purchase by Rock Hard Ten won an ‘a other than’ allowance in his only try over the Gulfstream course last February and won the American Turf Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, Apr. 30, prior to the Colonial Turf.
Michael Bruder’s 4-year-old Guys Reward finished third behind Doubles Partner in the American Turf last spring and makes his second start of the meet with jockey Kent Desormeaux in the saddle for trainer Dale Romans. Guys Reward finished third by a length in a similar race over the course on Jan. 8.
Guys Reward is a veteran of 18 career starts and finished his 2010 campaign in top form in Kentucky, winning an allowance at Keeneland in mid-October, finishing second by a length in the Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs in mid-November and came back two weeks later with another allowance win at Churchill on Nov. 28.
Another contender making his second appearance of the season is Castletop Stable’s 7-year-old gelding Baletti to be ridden by Rajiv Maragh for trainer Angel Penna, Jr. The son of Gulch is entered for the optional $80,000 claiming tag and finished a game fifth last out in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G3) over course on Jan. 9, beaten only 1 ½ lengths for it all.
Completing the field for Wednesday’s stakes-class allowance feature are Sequoia Racing’s Mystic, John Velazquez; Nyala Farm’s Banrock, Edgar Prado; Kinsman Stable’s Vanquisher, Elvis Trujillo; Santa Cruz Ranch’s Black Scorpion, Alan Garcia; Stronach Stable’s Don Cavallo, Javier Castellano; and Arthur Hancock III’s Whitley, Alex Solis.