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Updated on 09/17/2011 10:48AM
Best of the Rest a Donn possible
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said Best of the Rest came out of his victory in Saturday's $1 million Sunshine Classic "110 percent" and that the 8-year-old could make his next start in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 22.
"We'll see how he's doing and take a look at the Donn," Plesa said. "He has never won a Grade 1 race; the Donn is a Grade 1 and fits well on the time schedule."
Best of the Rest rallied from just off the pace to win the Classic, the cornerstone of the inaugural Sunshine Millions program.
Plesa said he personally had still not fully recovered from the elation of winning the Classic.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook," Plesa said. "This has been an emotional high, and I don't think I've made it to the top yet."
Blue Burner victorious in return
Somewhat lost in all the hoopla surrounding Saturday's Sunshine Million program was the game victory by Blue Burner in his first start since he finished 11th in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
Blue Burner, with Pat Valenzuela aboard for the first time, outlasted the late- striding Puzzlement to post a head decision in a third-level allowance. The victory was his first since he defeated allowance company on opening day of the 2002 meeting.
"We took a chip out of his knee and obviously he came back good," said Bill Mott, who trains Blue Burner for George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable. "He came into the race training just as well as he did last year."
Blue Burner followed up his allowance victory here last winter by finishing third in the Fountain of Youth, second in the Florida Derby, and fifth in the Wood Memorial - all Grade 1 races - before his season came to a premature conclusion after the Kentucky Derby.
Mott said he would have to see how Blue Burner comes out of this race before deciding whether to try him in the Donn Handicap.
"We'll see how he's doing and see how that race comes up," Mott said. "One thing I don't want to do is overmatch him right off the bat."
Cellars Shiraz may try Suwanee River
Trainer Bill Cesare was pleased with the performance of Cellars Shiraz in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf even though his filly finished second to Stay Forever as the 2-1 favorite.
"She can't win them all," Cesare said. "She ran good. The other horse just ran better. We have nothing to be ashamed of."
Cesare said he is uncertain what will be next for Cellars Shiraz, although he said the Grade 3 Suwannee River on March 1 could be an option.
Bailey misses Eclipse Awards
Jockey Jerry Bailey decided not to hang around the West Coast to attend Monday evening's Eclipse Award festivities after riding at Santa Anita on Saturday. Instead he took the red eye home in time to ride three winners here Sunday, including Hypnotist in the $75,000 Dave Feldman Stakes.
"I just needed to get back," Bailey said on Sunday. "The commitments I had at Gulfstream today were part of the reason, but this is also the only time of the year I get to spend with my family and I like to take advantage of it whenever I can. I have to be back to California three times in eight days to fulfill riding engagements, and staying around there until Tuesday for the Eclipse Awards would have just been too much."
Bailey was named the Eclipse winner for outstanding jockey on Monday.
Red Hot Bertie picks up first victory
Allamerican Bertie's baby sister, Red Hot Bertie, won her maiden at second asking Sunday, when she drew off to a 3 1/4-length victory in her two-turn debut. In her first start, Red Hot Bertie, a 3-year-old daughter of Tabasco Cat and Clever Bertie, finished second after bobbling at the break and engaging in a torrid speed duel.
"She lost both her front shoes in her first start," said Steve Flint, who trains both Red Hot Bertie and Allamerican Bertie for their breeders Elaine, Richard, and Bertram Klein. "The time today wasn't anything special but Jerry [Bailey] only showed her the stick and didn't really have to get after her too much. Jerry's an excellent judge of a horse's ability, and he said she's going to be a good one, but we're going to have to be patient with her."
Flint said he has no definite plans for Red Hot Bertie's next start.
"We'll put her away for a while and let her get over this one and then maybe look for something at the end of the meet," Flint said. "Her best game is definitely going to be around two turns, just like Allamerican Bertie. That's where the money is."
Afternoon work for Truck N Luck
Trainer Ralph Ziadie has received permission from the Gulfstream stewards to work his top 3-year-old Trust N Luck between races on the Feb. 5 card.
Trust N Luck, whose 110 Beyer Speed Figure was the highest of any 2-year-old in the country last season, is being pointed for the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 15.
"We've been working him easily up to now, but I'll set him down and give him a good work over that track," Ziadie said. "He'll go five furlongs with his regular rider [Cornelio Velasquez] aboard."
Harlan's Holiday works five furlongs
Harlan's Holiday, who had been at the Palm Meadows training center since arriving in south Florida last month, made the 40-minute trip down the road to work five furlongs in 1:00 over the Gulfstream strip Sunday morning.
"He'll probably just stay here now," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He was getting a little complacent in the quiet surroundings up there so I decided to move him down to Gulfstream since I know he likes the track here."
Harlan's Holiday, who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby here last March, has the Donn as his first major objective of the season.
- Follow Me Home, upset winner of the Dame Mysterieuse Handicap earlier in the meet, preceded Harlan's Holiday out on the track and went a blistering half-mile in 46.20 seconds. Follow Me Home is expected to make her next start in Sunday's $100,000 Old Hat Stakes.
- Lisa Love, a seven-pound apprentice, will accept her first mount of the meet when she rides Winniedawhale for trainer Oswaldo Lee on Wednesday. Love had been riding at Fair Grounds and Tampa Bay before moving her tack here.