Ari Gold Goes the Distance in $75,000 Pulpit
2YO Colt Captures Stakes Debut in Turf Sprint
__HALLANDALE BEACH, FL __– Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Ari Gold, making his fourth career start and first in a stakes, jumped out to an early lead and turned back a game Lights of Broadway through the stretch to win Saturday’s $75,000 Pulpit at Gulfstream Park.
The 7 ½-furlong Pulpit for 2-year-olds was the first stakes to be held on Gulfstream’s new turf course, which was reopened Dec. 2, and served as co-headliner with the $75,000 Wait a While for 2-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Luis Saez for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, Ari Gold ($3.60) covered the distance in 1:27.10 over a firm course to register his second straight front-running victory, both since the addition of blinkers. He broke his maiden in his prior start going 1 1/16 miles Nov. 6 at Aqueduct.
“I just felt like he was a little bit green his first couple starts, just not completely focused,” Pletcher said. “We just felt like [the blinkers] might be the ticket to getting him locked in a little more.”
Drawing Post 4 as the 4-5 favorite in a field of eight including stablemate Sendero, winner of the Sept. 7 Jamestown at Colonial Downs, Ari Gold broke sharply and was quickly in front, going the opening quarter-mile in 24.51 seconds tracked by 18-1 long shot Dangerous Ride.
Ari Gold, named for the fictional character on popular TV series ‘Entourage,’ continued to roll up front, going a half in 47.06 as Lights of Broadway began to advance along the inside before extending his lead once straightened for home.
Lights of Broadway stayed up for second, with Laurel Futurity winner Congruent rallying for third. Sendero, Anamnestic, Brumba Waffle Toes, Maximo and Dangerous Ride completed the order of finish.
“The game plan was to come out running and make a comfortable lead like we did last time. That was Plan A,” Pletcher said. “We gave Luis the option of calling an audible, if needed, but Plan A seemed to work out well.
“I think the blinkers and kind of a change in tactics a little bit has made a difference,” he added. “He’s a colt with, I think, a lot of room to continue to improve, and we’re proud of him for what he’s done so far.”
Purchased for $220,000 as a yearling in September 2021, Ari Gold ran fourth in each of his first two starts including his Sept. 3 unveiling at Saratoga as the favorite. The $175,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles Feb. 4 during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet is a possible next target.
“I think we’ll have to look at the Kitten’s Joy and give that some consideration,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to Aron Wellman and Eclipse and we’ll come up with a plan. He’s a big, hardy colt that seems to be taking his races well, so I’d say the Kitten’s Joy is on the radar.”