Trainer Targets Four-Peat in 75k Umphrey Turf Sprint
Jul 3, 2020
Georgina Baxter Enters Three in Sunday’s Five-Furlong Dash
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– First as an assistant and then on her own, trainer Georgina Baxter has been involved with the last three winners of the $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint. But the England native isn’t stopping there.
Baxter enters Sunday’s five-furlong dash at Gulfstream Park well-positioned for a fourth victory, having entered Faction Cat, 2017 and 2018 winner Pay Any Price and defending champion mare Lady’s Island, the latter for main track only.
“We’re hoping to get a fourth one,” Baxter said. “We’re kind of loaded on the five-furlong turf sprints. We’re lucky enough to have some nice horses in the barn, so we’re going to try to win it for the fourth year in a row.”
The Umphrey for 3-year-olds and up and the $60,000 In the Breeze for fillies and mares 3 and up, also scheduled for the grass at one mile, highlight an 11-race program that gets under way at noon.
The Umphrey is named in honor of Bob Umphrey, the very popular racing official who worked at a number of tracks before passing away in 2006 at the age of 53. Umphrey was born in Maine but raised about a mile from Gulfstream. He was racing secretary at Gulfstream, Hollywood Park, Laurel Park and Calder. Umphrey, along with Calder’s Mike Cronin and Ken Dunn, were instrumental in creating Calder’s packaged racing days the Festival of the Sun and June Jam that drew such top trainers as Mel Stute, Ron McAnally, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher.
For Baxter, a former exercise rider, one of her pet projects has been the temperamental but talented Pay Any Price, a now 10-year-old gelding with 18 wins and $671,943 in purse earnings from 32 career starts who set the world record of 53.61 seconds for five furlongs on turf in the 2017 Silks Run at Gulfstream.
An eight-time stakes winner, Averill Racing and Matties Racing Stable’s Pay Any Price is currently on a rare three-racing losing streak, matching the longest drought of his career dating back to his debut season of 2014, when he lost his second, third and fourth lifetime starts.
Pay Any Price has raced four times this year, winning an optional claiming allowance Jan. 5, then finishing off the board in stakes at Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs before returning from a three-month freshening to be third in another optional claiming allowance May 23 at Gulfstream.
“Pay Any Price is doing good,” Baxter said. “He had that bad experience at Tampa. It was a disaster, so we just wanted to run him for his mind and we were actually surprised at how well he ran. If he had actually made the break he probably would have won. That was the first time I was actually worried about that horse in a race. He’s usually good off a layoff, but we really didn’t do very much with him and he showed up.”
Edgard Zayas has the call on Pay Any Price from Post 9.
Asterace Group LLC’s Faction Cat beat Pay Any Price in the Turf Dash at Tampa last out Feb. 22, going gate to wire after splits of 20.61 and 42.66 seconds to set the five-furlong track record of 53.97 and flirt with his stablemate’s world mark.
Faction Cat has breezed 10 times at Gulfstream for his return, most recently going five furlongs from the gate in 1:00.05 June 27, the second-fastest of 31 horses, under jockey Emisael Jaramillo. Aboard for five of Pay Any Price’s last six races, Jaramillo will ride Faction Cat for the first time from Post 7 at topweight of 124 pounds.
“His last race was phenomenal. We gave him a little bit of a rest off that. He had a hard race and he earned a break; you take care of them and they’ll take care of you,” Baxter said. “He’s come back and we’ve been breezing him, and he’s been breezing really good. Jaramillo came and sat on him for the first time the other day, and he loved him.”
A 7-year-old gelding by Wildcat Heir, Faction Cat owns eight wins, 13 seconds, four thirds and $334,634 in purse earnings from 33 lifetime starts. A winner of two straight, he was third in the Claiming Crown Canterbury Dec. 7 at Gulfstream in his debut for Baxter then second behind multiple graded-stakes placed Extravagant Kid in the Janus three weeks later.
“We haven’t had him long but since we ran him in the Claiming Crown he keeps improving and improving. He’s the kind of horse that whatever he does he’s going to improve for the race,” Baxter said. “I think he’s good enough to win if he runs to his last couple races, but the way he’s been training he’s going to run big.”
Krsto Skye will be making his 57th career start and ninth in a stakes but first since Jan. 1, 2018 in the Umphrey, which will be his second race off a $16,000 claim by trainer Carlos David, who later bought out Olympia Stables to become co-owner of the 8-year-old gelding with Daniel Feit.
“He’s been everywhere,” David said. “The horse has talent; he just needed someone to give him a chance.”
Winner of the 2017 Albany Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, Krsto Skye has finished third or better 31 times with 12 victories, the most recent coming last summer on the dirt at Los Alamitos in California. Sent off at 41-1, he debuted for David running second by 1 ½ lengths in a five-furlong turf sprint May 23 – his first start in more than three months.
“I like horses with a little bit of back class and back numbers. 8- or 9-year-olds, that doesn’t bother me. I have a few of those and they can run. I thought he was well worth the price,” David said. “[The break] It kind of helped him and it helped me take my time with the horse and figure him out. The first time I ran him I ran him in the allowance race because I really believed I had something here with him and he showed up. He almost won the race.”
Samy Camacho will ride Krsto Skye from Post 3.
“I’m pretty happy with him,” David said. “He’s an old warrior, and if you treat them good they always give you something back. I’m excited. You definitely have some tough horses in there, but we’re just trying to get a piece of the pie.”
Leonard Green and Jonathan Green’s Another Miracle broke his maiden and won the Skidmore Stakes last summer at Saratoga before finishing fifth in the Futurity (G3) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). The 3-year-old son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in winless in two tries this year, including the Texas Glitter last out March 21 at Gulfstream, where he hit the gate and was bumped at the start and wound up seventh.
Rounding out the field are Frosted Grace, second in three consecutive starts at Gulfstream; Cryogenic, a June 19 optional claiming allowance winner at Gulfstream going five furlongs on the grass; Ambassador Luna and Sovereign Warrior. Running for Riz is entered for main track only.
Bob Umphrey grew up in South Florida a mile from Gulfstream Park and later worked in various capacities there and at Atlantic City and Hialeah from 1976-80. He served as racing secretary in Maryland, Chicago and California, including the inaugural 1984 Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park, before returning to the former Calder Race Course in 1993. He died in 2006 at the age of 53.