Uncle Mo Set For Season Debut In Timely Writer
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) is the richest and most prestigious of four stakes to be run over the March 12-13 weekend at Gulfstream Park. But the center of attention will be firmly fixed on the 3-year-old debut of Repole Stable’s 2010 Eclipse champion Uncle Mo in the $100,000 Timely Writer Stakes on the same Saturday program with the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Uncle Mo raced undefeated and virtually unchallenged in three starts last season, climaxed by his 4 ¼ lengths victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. A son of Indian Charlie, Uncle Mo stands out on a list of 36 3-year-olds nominated to the Timely Writer, a one-mile test named for the 1982 Florida Derby (G1) winner.
The appearance of Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer will be the most anticipated 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream since 1979 when Spectacular Bid won the Hutcheson Stakes for trainer Bud Delp in his first start after a sensational Eclipse championship campaign in 1978 in his first step toward victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) that spring.
The 67th running of the Gulfstream Park Handicap at one mile for 4-year-olds and up promises to bring out a strong cast led by Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Soaring Empire and Luis Olivares’s Tackleberry, 4-year-olds that have each won a one-turn, Graded stakes at the meet.
Other notable nominees include IEAH Stables and partners’ 5-year-old I Want Revenge, winner of the 2009 Wood Memorial (G1) and a solid fourth in the Donn Handicap (G1) here on Feb. 5 in his first start since August; and David Zell and partners’ Capt. Candyman Can, winner of the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 5 in his first start since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill on Nov. 6.
Rounding a trio of stakes to be run on the Sat., Mar. 12 card will be the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (3) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The list of 36 nominees is led by Team Valor’s Pluck, winner of the $1 million Breeders’ Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill on Nov. 6 for trainer Todd Pletcher, but now in the care of trainer Graham Motion along with the rest of the Team Valor horses.
Completing the weekend stakes line-up on Sunday will be the $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3), 3-year-old filly companion event to the Palm Beach, also at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Among the most accomplished nominees is Augustin Stable’s Dynamic Holiday, winner of the Tropical Oaks at Calder on Jan. 1 and Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12 in her last two starts for trainer Graham Motion.
Apriority & Tahitian Warrior Face Off in Saturday Allowance
The $100,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares on turf highlights Saturday’s 11-race card at Gulfstream Park, and there will be plenty of attention focused on the eighth race optional/allowance, a 6-1/2-furlong sprint as well with Donald Dizney’s Apriority and Godolphin Racing’s Tahitian Warrior the likely favorites.
Jockey Luis Saez is named to ride Apriority for trainer David Fawkes as the 4-year-old Florida homebred is back home after suffering a tough beat when second in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 29 when beaten a nose. The son of Grand Slam was making his stakes race debut following an allowance victory at Gulfstream on Jan. 6.
Jockey Julien Leparoux rides Tahitian Warrior for trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the talented field of nine as he makes his first start at Gulfstream since posting a sensational career debut victory over the track on Jan. 3, 2010 when owned by Frank Calabrese and trained by Danny Miller.
A son of Maria’s Mon, Tahitian Warrior was sold privately to Godolphin shortly after that maiden win and shipped to Dubai where he finished 10th in a one-mile turf race in early March last year. Tahitian Warrior re-surfaced in New York last spring to begin a five-race campaign with two wins, two seconds and fourth-place effort last out in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park on Oct. 30.
Another accomplished contender in Saturday’s race will be Gary Barber’s 4-year-old Coffee Boy with Elvis Trujillo in the saddle for the trainer Marty Wolfson. The son of Yonaguska broke his maiden here last winter when trained by Todd Pletcher prior to a private sale to his current connections.
Coffee Boy won the $85,000 Unbridled Stakes and $200,000 Carry Back Stakes (G2) at Calder last summer, the latter victory over heavy favorite D’Funnybone, and was sent to the sidelines for the rest of the season. He came back to finish a dull sixth in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G2) here on Feb. 12, but may have needed a start to get going again.
Completing the field for the race are Mike Ryan and partners’ Despite the Odds, Jose Lezcano; Sabine Stable’s Dream of Atlantis, J.L. Alvarez; Stride Rite Racing Stable’s Bernie the Maestro, Javier Castellano; My Purple Haze Stable’s Mannington, Rajiv Maragh; G J Stable’s Dabnabit, C.R. Esquilin; and Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, John R. Velazquez.