08/04/2016 9:56AM

Brei, Casse look to sweep Florida Sire Stakes for sophomores

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Awesome Banner's 95 Beyer Speed Figure is the best in the Unbridled field.

Fred Brei’s breed-to-race operation, Jacks or Better Farm, and trainer Mark Casse have a good chance of winning both of Saturday’s Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds: the Unbridled for colts and geldings and the Three Ring for fillies. Each of the races covers six furlongs, is worth $150,000, and is restricted to horses sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida.

In the Unbridled, Brei and Casse will send out Grade 2 stakes winner Awesome Banner to face just four rivals. In the Three Ring, they team up again with four-time stakes winner Ballet Diva, who will take on six fillies. Both horses appear to be the quickest in their fields and likely will try to win their races on the front end.

Awesome Banner, a colt by Awesome of Course, was a force at Gulfstream last winter, when trained by Stanley Gold, winning the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes at six furlongs by 4 3/4 lengths and the Grade 2 Swale Stakes at seven furlongs by five lengths. Awesome Banner then started in a pair of Grade 2 routes, the Fountain of Youth and the Tampa Bay Derby, but faded badly.

Awesome Banner was then transferred to Casse, along with the rest of Brei’s horses, and was returned to sprints. He won the Big Cypress Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs by 2 3/4 lengths in June and finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Rated R Superstar, in the Grade 3 Carry Back Stakes last month. Awesome Banner earned a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the Carry Back, easily the top mark in Saturday’s field.

Also in the field are Dream of Me, a colt by High Cotton trained by Anna Varsi, and Danbury, a Kantharos colt trained by Gold. Dream of Me won the Dr. Fager Stakes, a Florida Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds, last August and turned in a bullet three-furlong workout in 34.60 seconds at Gulfstream on July 17. Danbury hasn’t started since winning the restricted OBS Sprint on the synthetic surface at the Ocala Training Center in January, when trained by Bill Kaplan.

In the Three Ring, Ballet Diva will try to rebound from two losses to Dearest, who is not in this field. Ballet Diva, a daughter of Hear No Evil, finished second in the Royal Palm Stakes in June and was third in the Azalea Stakes last month after earning her fourth stakes victory in the Any Limit back in March. She earned a 77 Beyer in the Any Limit, the highest mark in this field, and has led after a half-mile in nine of her 12 career starts.

Ballet Diva could be challenged by Sweet Khaleesi, a Maimonides filly trained by Ronny Werner. In her only start this year June 25, Sweet Khaleesi stalked the pace before getting up to win a first-level allowance/optional $16,000 claimer by a nose with a 74 Beyer.

With their short fields, the Three Ring and Unbridled are carded as races 2 and 3.

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