Steady On Aims for Initial Stakes Score in $150,000 Appleton
Souper Hoity Toity Ready For 2023 Return in $150,000 Sand Springs
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – On a surface that he relishes and a distance where he is two-for-two, Steady On will try to secure his first stakes victory Saturday in the $150,000 Appleton at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile Appleton for 4-year-olds and up and $150,000 Sand Springs for fillies and mares 4 and older going 1 1/16 miles, both scheduled for the grass, are among 10 stakes, five graded, worth $2.35 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program anchored by the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa for 3-year-olds.
First race post time is 11:30 a.m.
Steady On is co-owned Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, whose Forte is the 4-5 morning-line favorite for the Florida Derby. Both colts are handled by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Since being stretched out following a disappointing debut in a turf sprint at Saratoga in late August, Steady On has emerged as a dependable performer with two wins and three seconds in six starts. In his lone off-the-board finish during that stretch, he was fourth, missing third by a head, in the Carousel Club Handicap over Gulfstream’s all-weather track Tapeta track on Jan. 28.
All three of the Pioneerof the Nile colt’s seconds have come in stakes company at 1 1/16 miles. The most recent was by a half-length to his multiple graded-stakes winning stablemate in the Canadian Turf (G3) on March 4.
“He’s coming off a really good effort,” Pletcher said. “He just got nipped by Emmanuel in the Canadian Turf. His turf races have all been good. Even on the synthetic he ran well but I do believe he’s better on the turf.”
With regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, Steady On will start from Post 6 in the field of 12.
Steady On broke his maiden and added an allowance win at one mile during the Belmont at Aqueduct meet in the fall then was a half-length loser to Churchtown, who is also in the Appleton, in the Gio Ponti on Nov. 19 at Aqueduct. He was caught at the wire by Golden Glider in the Dec. 26 Tropical Park Derby, which was moved from the turf to the all-weather track.
Peter Brant and Joseph Allen’s homebred Fort Washington finished a neck behind Steady On in the Tropical Park Derby and the Canadian Turf. The War Front colt trained by Shug McGaughey has one stakes win on his resume, the Tale of the Cat at Monmouth Park in June, but has been stakes-placed four times in is 10-race career.
Fort Washington and jockey Jose Ortiz drew Post 5 in the Appleton.
McGaughey will also saddle the Phipps Family’s Dreams of Tomorrow, who drew the outside post position.
Just outside of Fort Washington and Steady On in Post 6 is Lea Farms’ Winfromwithin, who was second by 1 ¾ lengths to Emmanuel in the Tampa Bay (G3) on Feb. 4. The 5-year-old Into Mischief horse has two stakes wins at one mile, the Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs in 2021 and the Red Bank at Monmouth Park in September.
Gray’s Fable, the 2021 Appleton winner, will make his third straight start in the race. He was trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield when he wired the field two years ago and was fourth by two lengths in 2022. Brian Lynch now trains the 8-year-old gelding for Steve Goldfine, Kari Provost and Jeff Zlonis. Joel Rosario has the mount on Gray’s Fable, who will leave from Post 3.
Ken Copenhaver’s veteran sprinter County Final will race at mile for the first time in his 26th career start. The 5-year-old Oxbow gelding has yet to win a stake, but has the most purse earnings in the field, $531,456.
“We’ve stretched him out once [to seven furlongs in the Mr. Prospector] but he’s never gone two turns on the grass so we’re going to give him a try in there,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He’s a horse that we claimed and he trains really well. He’s a weird horse. He runs five-eighths on the dirt good and then on the grass he’ll run six, six and a half pretty good. He runs good on both surfaces. We’ve sprinted him twice on the grass but he’s never stretched out on the grass and that’s why I want to give it one try to see where we’re at.”
Edgard Zayas will ride County Final from Post 11.
The Appleton field also includes Roseland Farm Stable’s He’spuregold; Souper Dormy, who was claimed three starts back by Bruno Schickedanz; LNJ Foxwoods’ homebred Striker; Lucky Curlin, making his first start off the claim by Paterpop Racing; Churchtown; and Sunshine Turf Stakes winner Roaring Forties.
Souper Hoity Toity Ready For 2023 Return in $150,000 Sand Springs
Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Hoity Toity arrives at Saturday’s $150,000 Sand Springs with an impressive resume – five wins in eight starts – that Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said should be even better.
Souper Hoity Toity completed her four-race 2022 campaign at Woodbine in suburban Toronto on Oct. 23 with a half-length victory in the Ontario Damsel, her third win of the season.
“The start before that [in the seven-furlong Dutchess Stakes] she got beat, but she was much the best in that race,” Casse said. “She got stopped at the top of the lane, ironically, by another one of my horses. It cost her.”
Super Hoity Toity finished well after her incident with Casse’s Join the Dance, but ended up 1½ lengths behind front-running Loyalty. The tough-luck loss came after Souper Hoity Toity won a pair of Grade 3 races, the Selene on the all-weather track and the Ontario Colleen on turf.
“She likes grass or Tapeta. It really doesn’t matter to her,” Casse said. “She’s training well and we’re getting her ready to start the season.”
Live Oak purchased Souper Hoity Toity for $550,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old sale in 2021. The daughter of Uncle Mo is out of the Speightstown mare Town Tour, who is a half-sister to Moonshine Memories, a two-time Grade 1 winner. Souper Hoity Toity won twice as a 2-year-old and emerged as a stakes filly last year.
“We’ve always thought that she was pretty good,” Casse said. “She hasn’t surprised me at all. She’s one of those kinds of horses that just loves to win.”
Souper Hoity Toity and her regular rider Patrick Husbands drew Post 4 in the field of 10.
Jouza will make her first North American start from Post 3 with Joel Rosario aboard. Graham Motion trains the Al Shaqab Racing homebred, who won three of seven starts in France.
Joseph Allen’s Cafe Society has hit the board in all three of her starts on all-weather surfaces and will try turf for the first time in the Sand Springs. The 5-year-old Empire Maker mare trained by Shug McGaughey was third, beaten 1¼ lengths, on Jan. 28 as the favorite in a $100,000 handicap over Gulfstream’s Tapeta course. Javier Castellano will ride her for the first time, leaving from Post 5.
Dewberry Thoroughbreds’ 5-year-old Princess Theorem won two starts back and had a troubled trip while running a close third at 44-1 in the Honey Fox (G3) on March 4. The Brendan Walsh trainee will start from Post 8 with Jose Ortiz up. Walsh will also saddle Arm Candy, who drew the outside post.
Completing the field are Main Line Racing Stable’s Love in the Air; Trevor Harris’ Sweet Enough; Klaravich Stables’ Marketsegmentation, who was third as the favorite in the Endeavour (G3) on Feb. 4; Victory Racing Partners’ Kahiko; and Georg Morgan’s Perseverancia.