Maker Targeting 75k Sunshine Turf with Talented Duo
Jan 13, 2021
Kelsey’s Cross Aims for $75,000 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Leading the country by wins heading into Wednesday’s action, trainer Mike Maker will look to keep his momentum going into the weekend when he sends out the pair of Second Mate and Max K.O. in Saturday’s $75,000 Sunshine Turf.
The 19th running of the Turf for 4-year-olds and up and $75,000 Filly & Mare Turf for females 4 and older, both at 1 1/16 miles, are among four Florida-bred stakes worth $300,000 in purses on a 12-race Sunshine Day program. First race post time is 11:45 a.m.
Second Mate and Max K.O. each ran in last year’s Turf, respectively finishing fifth and eighth behind multiple Grade 2 winner March to the Arch. The runner-up, Muggsamatic, was beaten a head in that race and is now also trained by Maker.
According to Equibase statistics, Maker won 16 races through the first 12 days of 2021. Seven of those wins have come during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet, and he is seeking his first victory in the Turf. Eccentric Club Racing Stable’s Second Mate will be making his fourth straight appearance in the race and first for Maker, having run third in 2018 and second in 2019.
Second Mate raced only twice after last year’s Turf, where he was beaten less than three lengths. Both races came at Gulfstream Park West – an optional claiming allowance where he finished off the board following a nine-month layoff, and a runner-up finish to fellow Turf entrant Venezuelan Hug in the Nov. 21 Millions Turf Preview, also going 1 1/16 miles.
“He had a tough beat there. Then he had an injury, got over it and came back well,” Maker said. “We expect a big performance from him.”
Tyler Gaffalione rides Second Mate from Post 1 in a field of nine.
Max K.O. is a new addition to Maker’s barn, claimed on behalf of Michael Dubb for $50,000 out of a one-mile claiming event Dec. 13 at Gulfstream where he set the pace for six furlongs before tiring to be ninth. The 5-year-old horse, twice stakes-placed, also led for three-quarters in last year’s Turf.
“We claimed him with this race in mind,” Maker said. “We figured if we could ration some of his speed he’ll be a little more productive. He’s been running off in his races and if we can get him to settle, I think we’ve got a decent horse.”
Julien Leparoux, winner of the 2010 Turf with Jet Propulsion, gets the assignment on Max K.O. from Post 7.
Anne Scott’s 8-year-old gelding Galleon Mast is a six-time stakes winner with $659,080 in purse earnings racing in the Turf for the third consecutive year. He won it in 2018 then ran second in that year’s Canadian Turf (G3), and closed to be third by two lengths last winter. Most recently, he had his two-year win streak snapped when fifth in the Turf Preview.
Galleon Mast is trained by David Fawkes, who will also send out William Rainbow’s Over the Channel, a troubled sixth in the Dec. 5 Claiming Crown Emerald though beaten just two lengths. The 5-year-old Overanalyzed gelding has been third or better in nine of 13 career races, with five wins.
The Turf Preview was Venezuelan Hug’s fourth win in six starts since being claimed for $40,000 last spring by trainer Danny Gargan. A 4-year-old son of Constitution, Venezuelan Hug overcame a tough trip where he got bumped near the eighth pole last out and prevailed under a drive. Overwhelmed in the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby (G1) in October, he has won each of his last two races against state-breds.
Rancho Alegre’s Monforte has won six of his last eight starts including the 7 ½-furlong Bear’s Den and one-mile Showing Up in back-to-back races last summer and fall at Gulfstream. The 4-year-old Carpe Diem colt took a short lead into the stretch of the Turf Preview last time out before fading to seventh.
Proven Strategies, a stakes winner over the Woodbine turf last out and second in the Pennine Ridge (G2) last summer; stakes-placed Shamrocket and Clear Destination are also entered.
Kelsey’s Cross Aims for $75,000 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf
Sanford Bacon and Patrick Biancone Racing’s Kelsey’s Cross, a multiple graded-stakes placed mare who became a stakes winner her last time facing state-breds, is set to launch her 5-year-old season in the $75,000 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf.
It will be the 11th consecutive stakes start for the 5-year-old daughter of Anthony’s Cross, who has won each of her only two starts against fellow Florida-breds, both at Gulfstream – a maiden special weight triumph in May 2019 and the 1 1/16-mile Ginger Punch last June, her most recent win.
“She’s super fit and we’re ready,” Biancone’s daughter and assistant trainer Andie Biancone said. “The last race she only had one breeze going into it and we kind of just wanted to give her a race and help get her back into form, and I think she ran really well for having such a long layoff and only one breeze. She’s a lot more fit coming into this race.”
Kelsey’s Cross got bumped at the start and found herself trailing the field entering the stretch of the 1 3/16-mile Via Borghese Dec. 19, her first race in three months. She rallied to get up for fifth, beaten less than five lengths.
“She loves Gulfstream, and she’s game. She’s super-game, super competitive,” Biancone said. “She’s more ready going into this race. We’re looking forward to it.”
Kelsey’s Cross has three wins, two seconds, five thirds and more than $285,000 in purse earnings from 13 career starts, placing third in the 2019 Wonder Again (G3) in just her third race and the 2020 Hillsborough (G3) last March. She was second, beaten a neck in the Dayatthespa last summer at Gulfstream.
“I think she’s got to be one of the toughest Florida-bred fillies on the turf. She’s really tough. She’s a cool horse,” Biancone said. “When we got her, we got her basically for free. She kind of came in a little package deal of horses. She doesn’t have a huge pedigree or anything like that but she’s really proven herself. She’s got a lot of class. It’s awesome to get to work with her.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez rides Kelsey’s Cross from Post 2 in a field of nine.
Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher and Steven Weiland’s Sun Summer enters the Filly & Mare Turf off successive victories going one mile at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct last fall. Claimed for $40,000 last summer at Belmont Park, the 5-year-old Broken Vow mare is seeking her first win in her first start in nearly two months.
“She had a ground-saving trip at Aqueduct last time, ran a dynamite race and got the job done,” trainer Mike Maker said. “She’s doing super. It looks like the time between races really does her well. She’s pretty easy to ride so you can place her wherever you need her.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the call on Sun Summer from Post 4.
Mad Dog Racing Stable, Isla Stables and Big Frank Racing Stable’s Sugar Fix ran fifth by 2 ½ lengths in the Lake George (G3) last summer at Saratoga, her first start since being claimed for $40,000 by trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. In her most recent effort, the 4-year-old filly ran second as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Claiming Crown Tiara Dec. 5 at Gulfstream.
D.J. Stable and Jonathan Green’s Ceci Valentina is entered to make her turf debut for trainer Joe Orseno. The 4-year-old filly owns three wins, a second and three thirds in 10 career tries on the dirt, including stakes victories in the 2019 FSS Susan’s Girl at Gulfstream and 2019 Juvenile Fillies Sprint at Gulfstream West
Rounding out the field are Bienville Street, second to Grade 2 winner Always Shopping in the Monroe last fall and coming off a one-mile optional claiming allowance victory Dec. 18, both at Gulfstream; Mo of the West, fourth last out in the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Oaks Dec. 26; Lookinlikeaqueen, and Lovely Luvy. Heiressindy is entered for main track only.