Amstrong Goes Back to His Strength in Bear’s Den at Gulfstream
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After a pair of subpar out-of-town performances, Soldi Stable LLC and Ohana Racing LLC’s stakes winner Amstrong will follow a proven formula of success in Saturday’s $75,000 Bear’s Den at Gulfstream Park
The Jose D’Angelo-trained son of Tapwrit will seek to run his record to 3-for-3 around two turns on Gulfstream’s Tapeta course when he takes on eight other 3-year-olds in the mile-and-70-yard stakes.
“This horse is a specialist on Tapeta,” D’Angelo said. “He moves different on it – that’s why I spoke with the owners and said, ‘Hey, let’s put him back on Tapeta to get his confidence back.’ I think he is in a good spot Saturday.”
Amstrong, who kicked off his career with one third-place finish in two sprints on dirt, broke his maiden impressively in his all-weather surface debut April 15, closely attending the pacesetter in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race before drawing clear by four lengths. The Kentucky-bred colt, who was purchased at the 2021 Keeneland September sale for $50,000, came right back on Tapeta to capture the 1 1/16-mile Not Surprising Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths June 10.
So impressed by the gray colt’s dominating victories, D’Angelo sent him to Belmont Park to run on turf in the July 7 Manila (G3), in which he finished seventh under Javier Castellano.
“I really like this horse – that’s why I took a shot with him in New York,” D’Angelo said. “Javier Castellano said he didn’t like the grass there.”
Next out, Amstrong finished an even third on dirt in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Laurel Park Aug. 3.
“I never had the opportunity to run him two turns on dirt at Gulfstream – that’s why I chose the allowance on the dirt,” D’Angelo said. “The horse ran OK.”
Back at Gulfstream, Amstrong will reunite with Miguel Vasquez, who rode him his back-to-back Tapeta romps.
“They are the perfect team,” D’Angelo said.
A well-balanced field of 3-year-olds with solid Tapeta and turf form will challenge Amstrong, including My Purple Haze Stable LLC’s Smart Striker, who finished second behind the D’Angelo runner in the Not Surprising. The Terri Pompay-trained son of Connect returned to winning form last time out in a two-turn turf allowance at Colonial Downs.
Leonel Reyes has the mount on Smart Striker.
Trainer Dan Hurtak’s Lightning Tones, who captured the June 24 Carry Back Stakes on dirt, is scheduled to make only his second start on Tapeta Saturday.
Marcos Meneses has the call on the gelded son of Tonalist.
Silver Leaf Stables’ McMoney, who enters off an allowance winner on turf last time out at Hawthorne, had a second and a third in two starts on Tapeta during the Championship Meet.
Olaf Hernandez has the return mount on Cheryl Winebaugh-trained McMoney.
Bell Racing LLC’s Free Smoke, Fly With Me’s Unified Weekend, and Donald Mensh’s Rockin Roller all enter the Bear’s Den off victories in allowance company on Tapeta.
Mad Dog Racing Stable and Joseph Parker’s Loco Abarrio, who has never finished worse than third in 10 starts at Gulfstream; and trainer Mathew Ciarmei’s Love Me Not, who was claimed for $40,000 out of a victory on turf at Monmouth last time out; round out the field.