02/04/2016 12:26PM

Ami's Flatter enters Hooper on cusp of stardom

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Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Ami's Flatter earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his most recent outing in an allowance.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Is Ami’s Flatter a star in the making?

The lightly raced but talented Ami’s Flatter will get the opportunity to prove just that when he takes on a strong field that includes Tommy Macho and Wildcat Red in Saturday’s $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Grade 3 Hooper will be decided at one mile.

Ami’s Flatter, who was on the Kentucky Derby trail last winter in south Florida, missed the second half of his 3-year-old campaign after it was discovered that he had some bruising on his cannon bones following his eighth-place finish in the Queen’s Plate on July 6. Ami’s Flatter, a Canadian-bred son of Flatter, came back better than ever, launching his 2016 season with an extremely impressive four-length entry-level allowance win going seven furlongs, earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

“I expected him to come back and work well, but a performance like that always surprises you,” said trainer Josie Carroll. “We weren’t sure whether to come back this quickly, but he bounced out of the race very well, and this seemed like the logical race to go in.”

The steadily improving Tommy Macho, owned by Paul Pompa Jr. in partnership with the J Stable, is the horse to beat coming off a victory over Madefromlucky in the Grade 3 Discovery and a second-place finish behind Financial Modeling in the Queens County at Aqueduct prior to shipping south for the winter. Both of those horses will compete later on the card in the Grade 1 Donn, a race that had also been under consideration for Tommy Macho.

:: Gulfstream: Buy PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

“I talked to Paul Pompa, and he said it’s the first race of the year, let’s go a little shorter distance in not an easier race but one that’s not as deep,” said trainer Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher also will send out Stanford, who has not started since finishing a distant fifth as the favorite in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 31. Stanford is graded stakes-placed, having finished second last spring in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Wildcat Red will stretch out to a mile after a steady diet of shorter races that includes fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 1 Vosburgh and, more recently, a second-place effort behind the red-hot X Y Jet three weeks ago in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

Fred Hooper, Race 5

KEY CONTENDERS

Ami’s Flatter, by Flatter

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Last 3 Beyers: 105-59-77

◗ Will break from the rail out of the one-mile chute, a tricky post at times, although one that has produced the second-most wins at the distance, 11 from 72 starters (15 percent), during this meet.

Tommy Macho, by Macho Uno

Last 3 Beyers: 97-99-90

◗ He has made only one start at a mile, finishing third, beaten five lengths, in the Grade 3 Dwyer last summer at Belmont Park.

Stanford, by Malibu Moon

Last 3 Beyers: 71-88-87

◗ Proved he runs well fresh when returning from a similar layoff to register a 1 1/2-length allowance victory going six furlongs here last winter.

Wildcat Red, by D’wildcat

Last 3 Beyers: 96-92-95

◗ He’s far and away the richest horse in the lineup, with more than $1.1 million in earnings, and never runs a poor race over his home course, having finished in the money in 10 of 11 starts, with five victories, at Gulfstream.