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Take Charge Indy, Animal Kingdom Headline Superstar Saturday Card
Anytime a Kentucky Derby winner is scheduled to race, you know it’s going to be a very special day.
Animal Kingdom is expected to make Saturday, Feb. 9 a day to remember while making his 2013 debut in the $300,000 Kitten's Joy Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1). Yet, the 2011 Kentucky Derby champion is just one of many World Class performers that will participate on Gulfstream’s Superstar Saturday program, highlighted by the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1).
The Donn Handicap, in which 2012 Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy is slated to make his 2013 debut, and the Kitten's Joy Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, in which Animal Kingdom is set to make his final start in the U.S., will be supported by a pair of star-studded graded stakes: the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) and the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G3).
Take Charge Indy will seek to pull off the Florida Derby-Donn Handicap sweep, achieved by Quality Road (2009-2010), Harlan’s Holiday (2002-2003) and Cryptoclearance (1987-1988).
“He’s been doing super. We’re looking forward to running him,” trainer Patrick Byrne said. “It looks like a very tough race. They’re coming out of the woodwork for this race.”
The prospective field for the 57th running of Gulfstream’s premier race for older horses includes Csaba, a two-time stakes winner at the 2012-2013 meeting who will bid for his fifth straight victory, Grade 1 stakes winners Flat Out, Pool Play and Ultimate Eagle, as well as Grade 2 winners El Padrino and Bourbon Courage.
“We’re going to get our horse started and see where he fits in the handicap division. All we can do is worry about our guy, and we’re ecstatic with him,” Byrne said.
“We’re eager to get started. We look forward to having a nice year with him.”
Animal Kingdom only has two, possibly three, races ahead of him before retiring to stud in Australia. With a solid performance in the Kitten's Joy Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, the Graham Motion-trained 5-year-old is scheduled to race in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 30. A start at Royal Ascot (G1) in June could end up being his last race should be run well in the Dubai World Cup.
“The big picture is getting him to Dubai. This race is an important steppingstone. Believe me, he’s going to be ready to run, and it’s not going to be easy,” said Motion, whose star captured a turf allowance at Gulfstream last season before being knocked out of action by injury. “But the big picture is getting him to Dubai. It’s always been our goal to get there.”
Team Valor International’s Derby winner, who came off a ninth-month layoff to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan, figures to be sternly tested in the 1 1/8-mile turf handicap. Point of Entry, a three-time Grade 1-stakes winner trained by Shug McGaughey, and Unbridled Command, who won his fifth race in a row in the Hollywood Derby (G1) last time out. This s
In the 68th running of the Suwannee River, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for fillies and mares, established graded-stakes winners Leading Astray, Romacaca, Kya One, among others, are expected to be challenged by the late-developing Abaco, who will bring a four-race winning streak into her stakes debut.
The Marty Wolfson-trained duo of Indiano, the winner of the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 29, and Swagger Jack, a two-time allowance winner at the current meeting, are slated to take on a group of seasoned sprinters in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship.