Kings Over, Palatine Hill to Put Winning Streaks on the Line
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Kings Over and Palatine Hill have flourished since being claimed by trainer Peter Walder – so much so that the veteran geldings are set to clash in Saturday’s $75,000 Skip Trial Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
“I hate to run two horses against each other, but there really isn’t anything else for either of them,” Walder said. “It’s too bad that one of them is going to have his winning streak broken. I’m kind of hoping for a dead-heat. That would be cool.”
Kings Over, a $25,000 claim by Burt Voloshin and Aventura Stable on Jan. 24, 2013, has won four races in a row, while Palatine Hill, a $12,500 claim by Skip Cheesman and Aventura Stable on Jan. 9, 2014, has made three consecutive trips to the winner’s circle. Both are coming off dominating victories in second-level optional claiming allowances.
The 5-year-old Kings Over and the 7-year-old Palatine Hill have both demonstrated versatility while building their respective winning streaks.
“I’m a little concerned. They have similar running styles. I think Palatine Hill is probably a little bit quicker than Kings Over the first half. Kings Over has won wire to wire in a few races. I think either one of them could go to the lead and either one of them could stalk,” Walder said. “I have to leave it in the hands of the riders.”
Kings Over, who’ll be ridden by John Delgado, wasn’t an instant success. The son of Trippi had won only one of his first seven starts for Walder before winning a $30,000 claiming race at Gulfstream on Feb. 2. He came back to win a starter allowance at Calder and two second-level optional claiming allowances at Gulfstream.
“He turned out to be the horse we thought he’d be when we claimed him. He just needed to win a race. Once he won that race, he got on a roll. When they get good, they get good,” Walder said. “He had some back class. He was meant to be a good horse. He didn’t show it to us right away. Now he is. You just have to be patient. Just because you don’t click with them right away, it doesn’t mean you won’t click with them eventually.”
Palatine Hill, who’ll be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., was a quicker study than his stablemate since being claimed by Walder. After finishing second in his first start for his new connections, the son of Roman Ruler won a $20,000 claiming race by 10 lengths, before eking out a victory in a starter allowance and drawing off to an easy five-length victory in the second-level optional claiming allowance.
“He knows where the wire is. He knows how to win,” Walder said.
Kings Over is preparing for his 35th career start in the 1 1/16-mile Skip Trial, while Palatine Hill is gearing up for his 29th trip to post. But both geldings seem to be in the best form of their long careers.
“I think sometimes these older horses are over-trained. I think backing off them helps quite a bit. I don’t train them seven days a week. I have a theory: if you can’t get them fit in six days, you’re not going to get them fit in seven,” Walder said. “I think my horses appreciate a walk-day, and I jog them once a week. I change up their routine; every day they do something different.”
Walder’s trainees will need fresh legs to skirmish with the likes of multiple graded-stakes winner Csaba and six other rivals in the Skip Trial.
Csaba, the winner of eight stakes in his 31-race career, is coming off a hard-fought victory in the Memorial Handicap at Calder on May 24.
“He hasn’t run in two months, which is by design. His last race, although he won, was a hard race on him. He just got up to win by a head that day,” said trainer Phil Gleaves, who named Manoel Cruz to ride the 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy. “We gave him a little time. He’s fresh and ready to rock and roll again.”
While the Walder-trained duo and Csaba have proven track records at Gulfstream Park, Leadem In Ken is slated to make his local debut in the Skip Trial. The Mike Maker-trained 4-year-old colt has recorded two wins on turf and two wins on dirt in 10 career starts. Most recently, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred won a 1 1/16-mile stakes at Fonner Park before finishing third in a 1 1/16-mile stakes at Prairie Meadows, both efforts coming on dirt.
Leadem In Ken is by Sky Mesa, out of Last Kitten, a half-sister to champion turf star Kitten’s Joy.
Multiple-stakes winner Sr. Quisqueyano, a two-time stakes winner last summer at Gulfstream, Grand Tito, who won the off-the-turf Miami Mile (G3) two starts back, Flatter This, a durable stakes performer with more than $350,000 in earnings, and Argentine Tango are also set for the Skip Trial.