Saturday maidens at Gulfstream
Gulfstream Park will play host to a fine 11-race card on Saturday, with a trio of stakes races on tap. I have always looked forward to the winter action at the Hallandale Beach, Florida venue, with a keen eye on the Saturday racing.
It’s the time of year where the newly turned three-year-olds get a bit more serious on their hopeful quest towards the Kentucky Derby in May. This week will showcase a quartet of races for the sophomores, two of the stakes kind and a pair for the maidens.
One is never sure where he or she can find a Derby contender, but South Florida is a very good starting point. Here are the maiden tilts and horses of interest:
Overflow field of 15 has been entered for the turf special weight test and I have learned over the years to pay attention to these events as some conditioners simply want to get a two-turn race under their runners’ respective belts.
A trio of first-time starters are of interest to me and each could be any kind.
DETERMINANT is a $550,000 colt by Tapit from the Mark Casse barn with some strong morning drills in advance of this debut. Well-bred colt is out of a multiple Grade 3 heroine, who herself is kin to $790,000 earner Micromanange. This is from the family of 1996 Belmont hero Editor’s Note.
The Ralph Nicks-trained GOLDEN CHALLENGE brought $425,000 as a yearling and the son of Medaglia d’Oro could be ready to roll. It could be telling that John Velazquez opts to pilot this colt.
Todd Pletcher’s MUFASA is bred to run all day and we can never ignore anything from this barn, especially at this winter meeting. Dam of this colt is a full-sister to Grade 1 queen In Lingerie, who took the 2012 Spinster for Pletcher.
Seven-furlong maiden dash on the main oval has attracted some expensive ones from top barns. Eddie Plesa’s APOSTLE draws widest of all in the 12-horse field but cost a bundle and is kin to millionaire Carve and high-class miler Sloane Avenue, the latter who was a superb second with an impossible trip in the 2015 Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2). Son of Medaglia d’Oro missed a work last month but the $900,000 yearling buy should be interesting if he runs to his price tag.
HONIG, saddled with the 11 post, has a race under his belt for conditioner Jimmy Jerkens and gets a bit more ground to work with after debuting at six panels. Son of solid young sire Orb was a $525,000 purchase and showed promise at first go. Kentucky-bred colt smoked a bullet last out in preparation and is a candidate to improve for sure with Jose Ortiz riding for a trainer who often thrives at Gulfstream.
Todd Pletcher’s LIFE’S A PARLAY has been training consistently since October and money rider John Velazquez riding is a positive. $725,000 son of Uncle Mo is a half-brother to 2014 Triple Bend H. (G1) star Declassify and likely will take money at the windows.
THE GREEN MO’STER is another son of superb debut sire Uncle Mo and the homebred will have Irad Ortiz in the stirrups. January foal is from the family of multiple Grade 2 star and sire Too Much Bling, as well as 2017 Jerome (G3) and Gotham (G3) victor El Kabeir, and his last trio of morning drills on this main oval suggest his readiness.