War Prospector Steps Up In Class For Sweetest Chant
By Brian Skirka
On January 5, Florence Patitucci’s War Prospector thrilled her supporters in the opening day crowd by winning the seventh race and paying $85.40.
On Saturday, the Juan Vazquez trainee will try to step up her game even further when she takes on seven other 3-year-old fillies including Grade 2 winner Kathmanblu in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant.
“I’ve liked her from the very beginning,” Vazquez said. “When I ran her first time out at Delaware this summer, I liked her a lot. She broke my wallet that day.”
After a second failed attempt on the main track, Vazquez tried his daughter of War Front on the turf. She was a whole different filly.
“It didn’t take long to see she was a turf filly,” Vazquez said. “Just look how she’s run on it compared to the dirt.”
In October, Vazquez gave War Prospector one final try on the main track in the Blue Hen Stakes. She was beaten 45 lengths.
“I don’t think she’ll go back to the dirt,” Vazquez said. “She’s found a home on the turf and that’s where she’ll stay.”
NINA FEVER A SPEEDY THREAT IN SWEETEST CHANT
“When you have speed, you use it.”
That was the way trainer Wesley Ward described his plans for Nina Fever in Saturday’s Sweetest Chant Stakes.
The 3-year-old daughter of Borrego is exiting the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet where she set the pace but tired to finish seventh of eight.
She recently has been training extremely quickly over the Gulfstream Park turf in preparation for her second-career start on the grass.
“We’ve always thought she was just as good, if not better, on the turf,” Ward said. “She’s been working very fast over the turf and should be ready to go. She’s bred to go the distance and ran a very good seven-eighths two races back at Woodbine, so I don’t think the distance will be a problem.”
Jockey Jeremy Sanchez will ride the five-time winner as the pair breaks from post position No. 5.
IMPERIAL COUNCIL IN SATURDAY ALLOWANCE
Sequoia Racing’s Imperial Council finished on-the-board five times in 2010 – twice at Gulfstream Park and twice in a one-turn mile.
On Saturday, the 5-year-old son of Empire Maker returns to one of his favorite tracks and what appears to be his favorite distance when he takes on nine others in a very competitive eighth race allowance optional claimer.
“He’s run very well here in the past,” said trainer Shug McGaughey. “And I think the one-turn mile is one of his better distances.”
Imperial Council exits a sixth-place finish in the Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) at Calder last out, though that race was a last-minute adjustment from the original plan.
“We had planned on running him seven-eighths in the Kenny Noe, but that race got cancelled,” McGaughey said. “We had to run him a mile and an eighth down there and that’s not the easiest thing to do sometimes. All things considered, I think it was a pretty good race.”
Imperial Council has shown an affinity for Gulfstream Park in the past.
In 2009, he defeated a first-level allowance field en-route to finishing second next out in the Gotham (G3). Last year, Imperial Council came off a nine-month layoff to finish third behind next-out Grade 1 winner Warrior’s Reward. In his next start, Imperial Council finished third at Gulfstream behind Mannington and Checklist – a pair of next-out winners.