G3 Mr. Prospector Winner Sibelius Adjusting to Dubai Life
Mott Likely to Hit the Road with Rocket Can
Florida Derby Win Still Dream Come True for Joseph
Undefeated New York Thunder Nominated to Texas Glitter
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Jun Park and Delia Nash’s Sibelius, a winner of back-to-back stakes including the Dec. 31 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park, has settled in at Meydan Racecourse following an uneventful 14-hour trip from South Florida to Dubai ahead of a run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (G1) March 25.
The 5-year-old Sibelius left on a flight from Miami on Sunday and visited the main track for the first time Thursday morning, trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said. O’Dwyer’s assistant and exercise rider, Chelsea Raabe, made the trip with Sibelius.
“The ship went great. He settled in nicely out there,” O’Dwyer said. “He had a walk day and then he had a jog day and then they were allowed to go to the main track today for the first time. He just went off had a nice light gallop and took a look around.
“Chelsea said he settled right in, is eating great and drinking plenty of water. He’s just taking it all in stride, so we just couldn’t be happier,” he added. “She said the surface seemed very good there this morning. She thought it was quite tight and he enjoyed it and got around there good.”
Based at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, O’Dwyer was in Ocala Thursday to watch horses for OBS’ March sale of 2-year-olds in training and id scheduled to fly out of Miami Friday evening to finalize the preparations in Dubai. Ryan Moore is named to ride in the Golden Shaheen.
“I’m going to leave here this afternoon to go back down and breeze a few horses in the morning, check everything in the barn and then leave tomorrow evening,” O’Dwyer said. “We’re feeling good. We’ve been keeping awfully busy, so we haven’t had time to overthink. We’re doing the things that we need to do and want to do for him in Dubai and everything’s gone according to plan.
“It’s just step by step,” he added. “The atmosphere’s changed but we try to keep the horse’s routine the same. He has his own feed; he has his own person there. Not too many drastic changes apart from his surroundings but he’s used to traveling. He’s been all different places all over the country, so he’s used to different surroundings, which is nice.”
Sibelius earned the invitation to Dubai following success in the Mr. Prospector, his first graded triumph, and a stakes-record victory in the Feb. 11 Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs. He has won three of his last five starts dating back to his first stakes win in the Lite the Fuse in September at Pimlico.
Overall Sibelius has a 6-3-3 record and $488,889 in purse earnings from 18 starts, running at 11 different racetracks in Florida, Maryland, New York, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“So far, so good,” O’Dwyer said. “I think probably the second flight is always harder. The first flight the body is probably able to handle it a little better, but the second one within two weeks will probably take a little more of a toll. But we’re happy with how he is out there right now after the flight. Obviously, we won’t know the full effect until he runs. If he runs bad, we’ll be blaming the flight and if he runs great, we’ll be saying that it had no effect on him at all.”
Mott Likely to Hit the Road with Rocket Can
Trainer Bill Mott has had a rewarding winter during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet. The Hall of Fame conditioner won the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) with Art Collector, finished first and second in the Holy Bull (G3) with winner Rocket Can and runner-up Shadow Dragon, and he won the Hurricane Bertie (G3) and Sugar Swirl (G3) with Frank’s Rockette.
Mott, who leads all trainers in earnings ($3.052 million) and is fourth in wins with 17, may hit the road with the 3-year-olds Rocket Can, owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc., and Shadow Dragon, owned by Peachtree Stable.
“We have to decide where we’re going,” said Mott of Rocket Can, who followed up his Holy Bull victory with a second-place finish behind Eclipse champion Forte in the Fountain of Youth (G2), trained by Todd Pletcher. “We’re not, we’re no more than 50-50 to run in the Florida Derby (G1). We assume Todd’s probably running that horse back. The owner [of Rocket Can] is from Arkansas so that’s an option. He’s let me run all these horses in Florida all winter, but he’d like to see them at his home track, and I get that…I think Rocket Can will go to Arkansas [Derby April 1) or the Blue Grass (G1).
Mott said Shadow Dragon, a New York bred by Army Mule, will likely go to the Wood Memorial (G2) April 8 at Aqueduct.
“He’s going to go to New York and run in the Wood Memorial,” he said. “The owner wants to take one more shot and see where we’re at and we’ll try the Wood. If it doesn’t work, he’s there, he’s a New York bred, and I get it.”
Florida Derby Win Still ‘Dream Come True’ for Joseph
It’s been just about a year since White Abarrio scored a 1 ¼-length victory over Charge It in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is still on a bit of a high.
“It was a dream come true and it still is,” Joseph said. “You have to pinch yourself to make sure it was real.”
White Abarrio had run some solid races in the aftermath of his Florida Derby score but was winless in six subsequent graded-stakes starts, including a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream. The striking gray son of Race Day recaptured his winning form in a March 4 seven-furlong optional claiming allowance in eye-catching fashion.
“Relief is the word. Coming off the Pegasus, we wanted to get him back on track,” Joseph said. “It was a relief and then you look at all the positives. He ran fast. He ran career bests by every figures. The Thoroughbred Daily News wrote that he was the fastest horse that weekend, and there were 16 graded stakes that weekend. He wasn’t in a graded stake, but his allowance was faster than any race in the country.”
Joseph plans to keep White Abarrio around one turn for the near future, at least, starting with the Carter (G1) April 8 at Aqueduct.
Joseph isn’t likely to recapture the thrill of winning the Florida Derby this year.
“There may be a chance West Coast Cowboy, but nothing is being pointed there,” he said.
Joseph has no set plans for Prairie Hawk, who finished an even fourth in last weekend’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2) after enduring a four-wide trip throughout but listed the April 25 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland as a possibility.
Joseph is weighing his options for Skippylongstocking, who captured the Challenger (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs last Saturday. The third-place finisher in last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) achieved graded-stakes success in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and the West Virginia Derby (G3).
“There are a bunch of options. We’ll know next week. He may stay here at Gulfstream for the Ghostzapper (April 1), or he could go to the Ben Ali at Keeneland, and he could also the Oaklawn Handicap,” Joseph said.
“He’s a hard-knocking horse. We have him a break toward the end of last year and he put a lot of weight on. He won the Harlan’s Holiday and ran decent in the Pegasus, which has turned out to be a strong race form-wise, Joseph added. “He came back the other day to win the Challenger. He’s a tough horse who always shows up and runs hard.”
Undefeated New York Thunder Nominated to Texas Glitter
AMO Racing USA’s undefeated New York Thunder is prominent on the list of nominations for the $100,000 Texas Glitter, a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-olds that will co-headline the March 25 program at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Melody of Colors, a five-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
Jorge Delgado-trained New York Thunder was highly impressive in his first two career starts, breaking his maiden by 6 ½ lengths in front-running fashion on Tapeta Nov. 28 before pressing the early pace and drawing off to win his turf debut by 1 ¾ lengths at five furlongs Dec. 30.
AMO Racing USA and Delgado are also represented on the nominations list by British-bred Crispy Cat, twice Group 2-placed sprinting five furlongs on the grass in England last year. He was second by a neck as a favorite in a five-furlong grass sprint March 10 at Gulfstream.
Stakes winners Gordian Knot and No Name Dude are among 16 nominees for the Texas Glitter.
Joseph Imbesi’s Gordian Knot won the 6 ½-furlong Prince Lucky on dirt at Parx and six-furlong Mark McDermott on the Presque Isle Downs’ all-weather surface last fall and has not been out since finishing third as the favorite in the Nov. 29 Pennsylvania Nursery. The Social Inclusion gelding has yet to race on grass.
Julio Manuel Garriga’s No Name Dude captured the five-furlong Hollywood Beach over Gulfstream’s Tapeta surface in October and subsequently ran fifth in the Juvenile Sprint on dirt. He ran third in a starter optional claimer Feb. 22 on the Tapeta at Gulfstream in his 3-year-old debut.
Flor de Sombra, also owned by Imbesi and trained by Guadalupe Preciado, tops 18 nominees to the Melody of Colors. The Social Inclusion filly was a three-time stakes winner at 2, twice on the dirt as well as the Finest City in October over the all-weather at Presque Isle.
Westlake Racing Stable’s Showgirl Lynne B won each of her first three starts last summer, two of them at Gulfstream, including the 5 ½-furlong Sharp Susan on the Tapeta. She returned to South Florida and was sixth after setting the pace in the one-mile Ginger Brew Jan. 7 on the grass.
Bruno Schickedanz’s Bedtime Story is unbeaten in three career starts, all on Gulfstream’s Tapeta, the most recent coming in a five-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 2. Also without a loss is James William Fleming’s Kavala, claimed for $16,000 out of her Jan. 4 debut. The daughter of 2016 Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Mohaymen came back with a 1 ¾-length starter optional claiming win Feb. 18, both races coming at 5 ½ furlongs over the Tapeta.