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Family now comes first for Migliore
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Richard Migliore may have been the busiest guy in the Gulfstream Park jockeys' quarters Friday even though he had only one mount on the 10-race card.
Migliore spent most of the afternoon shaking hands, renewing acquaintances, and proudly showing off photographs of his 5-month-old daughter, Gabrielle, before going out to win the $100,000 Sabin Handicap aboard Miss Linda.
Migliore opted to remain home with his family and ride in New York this winter after spending the last three winters riding regularly at Gulfstream. He says the choice was a no brainer.
"With the new addition to the family and after what happened on Sept. 11, it wasn't hard to set my priorities straight and realize that what's most important in life is my family," said Migliore. "Even last year towards the end of the meet here I was feeling badly not being with them. Fortunately, I have a job that allows me to ply my trade at home and be with my family at the same time. It's like having my cake and being able to eat it too."
Migliore won 64 races here the past two seasons while finishing among the top 10 riders each of the last two winters. He is currently sixth in the standings in New York while riding on a limited basis.
"I'm not looking to ride eight or nine a day during the winter," said Migliore. "My goal is to gear up for when the main track opens and to build momentum for the summer."
Migliore realizes the decision to stay in New York this winter cost him some big mounts, including the John Kimmel-trained Hook and Ladder, the odds-on favorite to win Sunday's Deputy Minister Handicap.
"I understood staying home would mean making sacrifices on the professional end and naturally I would love to be riding Hook and Ladder," said Migliore. "John is having a strong meet and it would have been great to be a part of that. Fortunately, I was able to keep the mount on Miss Linda. And I will be back again next Sunday to ride Sweetest Thing for Roger Attfeld in The Very One."
Surgery hasn't slowed Drama Critic
The Fountain of Youth is not the only Grade 1 race to be decided here next Saturday. The $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap also carries Grade 1 status and could bring Drama Critic back to center stage.
Drama Critic has had his career slowed on two occasions by knee surgeries. But after easily defeating a strong field of allowance rivals earlier in the meet trainer Mark Hennig is looking forward to seeing Drama Critic back at the Grade 1 level again.
"After his second knee surgery we didn't know if he'd come back to the same level he was at earlier in his career," said Hennig. "But I couldn't be more pleased with the way he's going right now. He seems to be doing just as well as he did as a 4-year-old."
Drama Critic had his first operation during January of his 3-year-old season. The second came shortly after he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap here last March. His best career effort came the previous fall when he finished third behind Fantastic Light in Belmont's Grade 1 Man o' War.
Hennig also confirmed Raging Fever as a starter in next Friday's $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap. Gold Mover, who was also nominated to the race, is likely to ship to Laurel to make her next start in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
"Raging Fever seems to do better when she walks out of her own stall to race while Gold Mover is well traveled and would handle the ship to Maryland better," Hennig explained.
Betting score on pick three
One or more fans betting through the Las Vegas hub apparently made a killing on the pick three encompassing Thursday's second through fourth races. The pick three returned $454.60 for a $2 bet. The parlay of the three winners, Claddaugh Ring ($23.40), Ms C D Player ($8) and Sajon ($55.20) would have been worth over $2,400.
According to mutual manager Pat Mahoney, $80 of the $98 in winning wagers on the 3-5-9 combination was bet through the Las Vegas hub. Only $7 was bet on the combination on track.
"We cannot pinpoint the exact source of the winning bets any further than that," said Mahoney. "It could have come from one of the hotels, some off-shore sites or even one or two Indian reservations that I believe go through that hub."
Thunder Blitz has easy work
Thunder Blitz, who finished fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby but has not raced since last summer, had his first work since arriving at Gulfstream, breezing an easy three furlongs in 38.40 seconds Friday morning.
"It was just an open gallop," trainer Joe Orseno said. "When he went to the pole, he was such a handful. He looked good doing it."
Thunder Blitz has not raced since the West Virginia Derby. He had been suffering from a quarter crack, which first surfaced before the Belmont Stakes, but then worsened. "He wasn't running to his potential," Orseno said. "He had the first quarter crack, and then another spot opened up. That told me there was a weakness there. We decided to pull the plug and send him home."
Thunder Blitz spent the past few months at Adena Springs South, the Ocala, Fla., farm of his owner, Frank Stronach. Orseno said Thunder Blitz should be ready to race in six to eight weeks.
"He's really filled out," Orseno said. "Between him, Macho Uno, and Red Bullet, we should have a lot of fun this year."
Several options for Del Mar Show
Del Mar Show, who had an eventful trip while winning the Fort Lauderdale Handicap here last month, had his first work since then this week, and could make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Turf Handicap on Feb. 23.
But Bill Mott, who trains Del Mar Show, said he also is considering Hap for that race. Since both are owned by the heirs to the late Allen Paulson, only one will run in the race. Mott said if Del Mar Show is kept out of the local race, he could instead go to Fair Grounds for next month's Explosive Bid Handicap. And both horses are being considered for rich races next month in Dubai.
Mott also said that Burning Roma is being pointed for a one-mile dirt race on the Dubai World Cup undercard.
And Mott outlined plans for two of his better 3-year-olds. Blue Burner will run in next Saturday's Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes, while Listen Here will await the seven-furlong Swale Stakes on the Florida Derby undercard on March 16.
* Tip Toe became the first three-time winner at the meet when she easily defeated $8,000 claiming company in Friday's fourth race. The 5-year-old Tip Toe is trained by David Muench and was ridden by Emile Ramsammy.
* There are 11 races on Sunday's Gulfstream card. And if you ever wondered what an "alligator lizard" is, you can quiz the members of the band America, who will play all their super hits of the 1970's at the track Sunday afternoon, including "Ventura Highway" and, of course, "Horse With No Name."
- additional reporting by Jay Privman