Promising 3YO Victory Avenue Breezes at Gulfstream
Gun Song Will Stick with Fillies after Feature Romp
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Pool Estimated at $150,000
Carotari Tops Classy Gulfstream Turf Sprint Field
Maiden Event Boasts 5 Triple Crown Nominated Debuters
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – OGMA Investments, JR Ranch, Upland Flats Racing, Morplay Racing and High Step Racing’s well-regarded 3-year-old maiden Victory Avenue, beaten as the favorite in his debut last month, returned to the work tab Friday at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Gustavo Delgado, Victory Avenue went four furlongs in 48.76 seconds over a fast main track, ranking 14th of 30 horses at the distance, before offering a strong gallop-out. It was the first timed breeze since finishing second at odds of 3-2 in a seven-furlong maiden special weight Jan. 27 on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series.
Delgado’s son and assistant, Gustavo Delgado Jr., was pleased with Friday’s work and said the Arrogate colt could come back in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight for 3-year-olds Feb. 24 at Gulfstream. Jockey Luis Saez, who was aboard in debut, will be riding in Saudi Arabia that day.
“He went good this morning. It was everything you want to see in a horse,” Delgado Jr. said. “We’re stretching him out a little bit. Wherever he’s running, whether it’s going to be the maiden race or whatever, he’s going to go long. That’s what we’re looking for. I think he’s a nice horse. He’s a little bit green still, but he came out of his race that good. He ran so good. How many times you run a 97 Beyer [Speed Figure] and you get beat? It happens.
“Luis is not going to be here to ride him if we decide to go on the 24th … so that’s why we’re [undecided],” he added. “I’m excited. He’s a nice horse. I think he’s still developing, and we don’t know where he’s going to end.”
Delgado Jr. hinted another possibility is the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) going 1 1/16 miles one week later, on March 2. Last year, the same connections saw Mage win his debut on Pegasus Day at Gulfstream, run fourth in the Fountain of Youth and second in the Florida Derby (G1) before going on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Victory Avenue broke inwardly but set the pace for a half-mile through splits of 22.64 and 44.61 seconds, was overtaken by eventual winner Speak Easy entering the stretch and wound up second, 3 ¾ lengths ahead of Big City in third. Todd Pletcher-trained Speak Easy ran seven furlongs in 1:21.96.
“We’re going to keep an eye on [the Fountain of Youth],” Delgado Jr. said. “Last week we were expecting the horse to win. Look at the time and look what happened. If you want to make it to the Derby, you can’t depend on one single race to get the points. Last year we learned that with Mage. He ran fourth and he got 10 points and then ran second in the Florida Derby. If he had only been in the Florida Derby, maybe at the end because of the scratches, he would have made it but not in the original 20.
“[Victory Avenue] will tell us whether he’s ready to run,” he added. “But the way he did it today, he is.”
Gun Song Will Stay with Fillies after Feature Romp
Lee Lewis’ Gun Sung, one of four fillies nominated to the 2024 Triple Crown, will stay with fillies after scoring a dominating triumph in Friday’s Race 7 feature at Gulfstream Park.
The Mark Hennig-trained 3-year-old daughter of Gun Runner ($5.40) went right to the front in the mile optional claiming allowance for sophomore fillies and drew away to defeat Catherine Wheel, the 6-5 favorite trained by Chad Brown, by 5 ¾ lengths under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
“The owner thought he was nominating her for the Kentucky Oaks and not the Triple Crown, but we just left it,” Hennig said.
Instead, Gun Song stamped herself as a strong prospect for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (G1) with her decisive victory.
“I thought that was a big hurdle to get over. I thought she wants to go further. She’s a big, long filly, but she’s out of a sprinting mare. You would definitely think distance looking at her, but you don’t’ know ‘til you do it. I liked the way she did it today. She’s push-button,” Hennig said.
Gun Song, who was purchased for $400,000 at the 2023 OBS March sale, ran a one-turn mile in 1:37.05 to win her second race in four starts. After breaking her maiden at first asking over a sloppy Aqueduct track going six furlongs Oct. 21, Gun Song finished third again on a sloppy Aqueduct track in a Dec. 3 optional claiming allowance following a bumping start. The Hennig trainee set a pressured pace over a good Gulfstream track Jan. 11 before settling for second.
The $200,000 Davona Dale (G2), a mile stakes for 3-year-olds on the March 2 Fountain of Youth (G1) card, is a likely next out target, said Hennig.
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Pool Estimated at $150,000
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool is expected to grow to an estimated $150,000 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager went unsolved Friday following a jackpot hit for $215,855 Thursday.
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 7-12, headlined by the $125,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint in Race in Race 9.
A seven-horse field of veteran turf stakes performers is headed by Brian Lynch-trained Carotari, who is a multiple stakes winner over the Gulfstream course. Laura Cazares-trained Panther Island, who captured the Janus at the five-furlong distance of the Gulfstream Turf Sprint in his last start. Graded-stakes winner That’s Right is slated to make his first start for Jena Antonucci while coming off a six-month layoff.
A full field of 3-year-old maidens has been assembled for Race 8, a six-furlong maiden special weight race that boasts five Triple Crown-nominated first-time starters – Gustavo Delgado-trained It’s My Life, a son of Into Mischief, Chad Brown-trained Proprietary Trade, a son of Practical Joke, David Carlos-trained Awesome Wind, a son of Bahamian Squall, Todd Pletcher-trained Secret Crush, a son of Candy Ride, and Michael Yates-trained Tommy Two Socks, a son of Tale of Ekati.
Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, featuring a mile optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies in Race 7. Mark Hennig-trained Gun Song has been designated as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a highly promising field of seven. The daughter of Gun Runner is coming off a game second-place finish at Gulfstream Jan. 11. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the return call on Gun Song, one of only four fillies nominated to the Triple Crown.
Chad Brown-trained Catherine Wheel, a daughter of Into Mischief, is slated to make her Gulfstream debut coming off a strong score going a mile at Aqueduct Nov. 3. Cherie DeVaux-trained Purloin drops out of graded-stakes company after finishing sixth in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs and winning on debut at Aqueduct.
The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
Who’s Hot: Paco Lopez continued his stellar Championship Meet, scoring back-to-back wins aboard Gran Roque ($5) in Race 3 and My Lady James ($10.60) in Race 4. Luis Saez doubled with Beanpot ($4) in Race 5 and Future is Now ($7.40) in Race 8.
Starship Stable and trainer Steve Dwoskin had two wins Friday with Starship Pioneer ($48.80) in Race 2 and Starship Nebula ($7.60) in Race 9.