This time of year, the attention is usually on the three year old male division due to the prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races (Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes). This week however, the focus comes away from the three year olds and focuses on several big stakes races at Gulfstream Park. Two Grade 1 races are featured among four overall graded stakes.
The first of the four graded stakes on Saturday’s card is the most intriguing as it will feature 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom versus one of the top older male turf horses from 2012, Point of Entry.
2013 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) – $300,000 – Four Year Olds & Up – 1 1/8 miles – Turf
1. Film Making – Jockey Edgar Prado – Trainer James Baker – 111 lbs
2. Point of Entry – Jockey John Velazquez – Trainer Claude McGaughey – 123 lbs
3. Salto (IRE) – Jockey Joe Bravo – Trainer Todd Pletcher – 114 lbs
4. Unbridled Command – Jockey Javier Castellano – Trainer Thomas Bush – 120 lbs
5. Where’s the Baby – Jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan – Trainer David Kassen – 114 lbs
6. Animal Kingdom – Jockey Joel Rosario – Trainer Graham Motion – 121 lbs
Animal Kingdom is quite the story considering the lack of races since winning the Kentucky Derby nearly two years ago. The Graham Motion trainee by Leroidesanimaux won the Derby on May 7, 2011, then finished 2nd in the Preakness two weeks later. After his 6th place effort in the Belmont Stakes, he missed several months with an injury. He made his return in February 2012 in an Allowance Optional Claiming $80,000 going 1 1/16 miles on the turf for the first time. The race was supposed to be a prep for a trip to Dubai in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Race Course. Instead, it was another setback that would sideline him for another 9 months. His return came in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 4. In a remarkable performance that saw him get trapped on the rail when making a move down the stretch, he still found a way to get up for 2nd, 1 1/2 lengths behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan, 1/2 length in front of Obviously (IRE) and an additional nose in front of Eurpoean star turf miler Excelebration (IRE). If he runs well, the plan for the now five year old is to head to Dubai, run in either the Dubai World Cup or Sheema Classic, then a trip to Royal Ascot in June.
Point of Entry was 1/2 length from quite possibly being named Older Turf Male champion and Horse of the Year. After finishing 4th in his 2012 debut, the Shug McGaughey trained four year old rattled off a five race winning streak that included the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, Man o’ War Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1) back at Belmont. His 1/2 length loss to Little Mike in the Breeders’ Cup Turf was a fantastic effort as he couldn’t find room down the stretch until it was too late. Very similar trip to Animal Kingdom in the BC Mile. This will be his first race since the Breeder’s Cup. He carries the high weight of 123 lbs due to the multiple wins last year.
A horse who could make some noise in this race is Unbridled Command. A modest winning streak of five races that includes a couple of Allowance scores in New York, the Saranac Stakes (G3) at Saratoga and McMahon of Saratoga Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park. His last of the five came in an almost last to first performance in the Hollywood Derby (G1) at BetFair Hollywood Park on November 25. The then three year old by Master Command sat far back early and unleashed a serious rally down the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. This will be his four year old debut, but trainer Thomas Bush seems to have him ready to go by looking at his morning workouts at Palm Meadows.
ORDER OF FINISH
1. Point of Entry
2. Animal Kindgom
3. Unbridled Command
4. Salto (IRE)
5. Where’s the Baby
6. Film Making
The other Grade 1 race on the card will bring together ten older males from all over the country to battle in the Donn Handicap. Missing from this race is last year’s winner Hymn Book, Ron the Greek who easily won the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes last month and
2013 Donn Handicap (G1) – $500,000 – Four Year Olds & Up – 1 1/8 miles – Dirt
1. Bourbon Courage – Jockey Javier Castellano – Trainer Kellyn Gorder – 117 lbs
2. Flat Out – Jockey Joel Rosario – Trainer William Mott – 121 lbs
3. Fast Falcon – Jockey Jose Lezcano – Trainer Nick Zito – 114 lbs
4. Graydar – Jockey Edgar Prado – Trainer Todd Pletcher – 114 lbs
5. Ultimate Eagle – Jockey Martin Pedroza – Trainer Michael Pender – 120 lbs
6. Ducduc (KY) – Jockey Jose Alvarez – Trainer Shivinanda Parbhoo – 115 lbs
7. Csaba – Jockey Luis Saez – Trainer Phiip Gleaves – 120 lbs
8. Take Charge Indy – Jockey John Velazquez – Trainer Patrick Byrne – 117 lbs
9. Pool Play – Jockey Miguel Mena – Trainer Mark Casse – 119 lbs
10. Citrus Kid – Jockey Joseph Rocco, Jr. – Trainer John Terranova – 117 lbs
The high weight for the field is the seven year old Bill Mott trained Flat Out due to his win last September in the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. He hasn’t raced since finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4 at Santa Anita. The Jockey Club was his only win last year out of six races. He finished 12th in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park in January, then 5th in last year’s edition of the Donn Handicap. He missed five months after that race and returned to finish 2nd in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G2) at Monmouth Park on July 7. A 3rd in the Whitney Invitational Handicap (G1) at Saratoga seemed to get him back on track as he won the Jockey Club thereafter. He ran 3rd in the BC Classic but was no match for the top two, Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man.
Ultimata Eagle and Csaba come in at 120 lbs. Ultimate Eagle will be making his 3rd start following a length layoff. The Mizzen Mast five year old finished 10th in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) last March and wasn’t seen again until the Citation Handicap (G2) at BetFair Hollywood Park on November 23. He finished 2nd to Data Link going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. His last start came as a 2nd place effort in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2) on January 5. He lost to Coil by a head and it was his first start on dirt since taking the Strub Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita by 7 1/4 lengths last February. This will be his first start away from Southern California.
Phil Gleaves has his four year old Kitten’s Joy colt Csaba who is currently riding a four race winning streak. It started on October 13 at Calder Racecourse when he won the Tropical Park Derby by 14 lengths. He won in a dead-heat with Ducduc to capture his first graded stakes in the Fred W. Hooper Handicap (G3) also at Calder. They won by 7 1/4 lengths. His last two came at Gulfstream Park. He won the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes on December 16 by 3 3/4 lengths in a rematch with Ducduc. The latter finishing 4th 12 lengths behind. His last was his best race to date as he defeated seasoned veterans in Pool Play (head), Pants on Fire (neck), Soldat (now retired) and a few others in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) on January 13.
Others who could step and run big are Take Charge Indy, last year’s Florida Derby winner who came back from a six months layoff to finish 3rd in the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland and just about knocked off Shackleford in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in November. Bourbon Courage, last year’s Super Derby (G2) winner at Louisiana Downs finished a solid 3rd behind Shackleford and Take Charge Indy in the Clark.
ORDER OF FINISH
2. Bourbon Courage
3. Take Charge Indy
4. Flat Out
6. Pool Play
7. Fast Falcon
9. Citrus Kid
10. Ultimate Eagle
The other graded stakes races on the card are the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Stakes (G3) featuring Sunshine State Stakes winners Bahamian Squall trained by David Fawkes and graded stakes winner Travelin Man trained by Todd Pletcher.
ORDER OF FINISH
1. Fort Loudon
2. Swagger Jack
3. Bahamian Squall
4. Close It Out
5. Good Morning Diva
6. Traveling Man
7. Fair Whit
8. Big Grandpa
The Suwannee River Stakes (G3) will feature the Michael Matz trained Hard Not to Like who is coming off a sharp win earlier last month in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3), the Todd Pletcher trained Channel Lady who won of the Stardusk Stakes at Aqueduct and ran as the runner-up in the Marshua’s River. Chad Brown will saddle My Charmer Handicap (G3) winner Kya One (FR) and former Queen’s Plate winner at Woodbine, Inglorious tries to get back on track after her 3rd place finish in the Bayakoa Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita in December.
2013 Suwannee River Stakes (G3) – $150,000 – Four Years Old & Up – 1 1/8 miles – Turf
1. Inglorious – Jockey Joel Rosario – Josie Carroll – 117 lbs
2. Leading Astray – Jockey Jose Lezcano – Chris Block – 121 lbs
3. Kya One (FR) – Jockey Paco Lopez – Trainer Chad Brown – 121 lbs
4. Hard Not to Like – Jockey Joseph Rocco, Jr. – Michael Matz – 121 lbs
5. Channel Lady – Jockey Javier Castellano – Todd Pletcher – 119 lbs
6. Romacaca – Jockey Luis Saez – Trainer Darrin Miller – 121 lbs
7. Affair Dabbler – Jockey Corey Lanerie – Trainer David Kassen – 117 lbs
8. Abaco – Jockey John Velazquez – Claude McGaughey – 119 lbs
Also Eligibles (main track only):
9. My Pal Chrisy – Jesus Castanon – Padarath Lutchman – 117 lbs
ORDER OF FINISH
1. Channel Lady
4. Kya One (FR)
5. Hard Not to Like
7. Affair Dabbler
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