09/02/2014 12:49PM

Gold has 3 each for Affirmed, Susan's Girl stakes

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Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photos
Sing Praises wins the Dr. Fager on Aug. 9 at Gulfstream.

Stanley Gold dominated the opening legs of the 2014 Florida Sire Series at Gulfstream Park, and the veteran trainer figures to do more of the same Saturday, when sending out the heavy favorites in the middle legs of the series – Sing Praises in the $250,000 Affirmed division and Leap Year Luck in its filly counterpart, the $250,000 Susan’s Girl.

The Affirmed and Susan’s Girl top an outstanding 12-race program Saturday at Gulfstream that attracted 147 entries. Seven of the races, including both stakes, will be for 2-year-olds. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

This is the first year that the Florida Sire Series, formerly known as the Florida Stallion Stakes since its inception at Calder in 1981, is being conducted at Gulfstream, with the purses of the seven-furlong Affirmed and Susan’s Girl having been raised considerably from previous renewals.

Gold, whose 14 FSS wins has him tied with Frank Gomez for the most in series history, will start three horses each in the Affirmed and Susan’s Girl. Trainer Kathleen O’Connell will have three runners in the Affirmed and two in the Susan’s Girl.

:: Florida Stallion Series: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Sing Praises won his maiden against open stakes company when dominating the Birdonthewire in his second start before returning to register a popular 1 3/4-length decision over stablemate Of Course in the six-furlong Dr. Fager division of the FSS. Of Course and Twotwentyfive A, an impressive winner of his debut, complete Gold’s trio in the Affirmed. All three homebreds are owned by Jacks or Better Farm.

“He keeps impressing me because he keeps doing things so easy,” Gold said of Sing Praises. “When you think he might not have anything left, you find out that he’s not even near the bottom of the tank, and he explodes for you. He’s been doing that in his works. His last work was 58 and change [seconds], and he was just loose-reining it. When the rider chirped to him, he just took off. I don’t know how good he is, but he’s good.”

Leap Year Luck won her maiden in the Desert Vixen division of the FSS, easily defeating stablemate Golden Deal in the six-furlong dash for 2-year-old fillies. They’ll be joined in the Susan’s Girl by a third Gold entrant, recent maiden winner Awesome Ice.

Apprentice Ritvo heads north

Apprentice jockey Michael Ritvo, the son of trainer Kathy Ritvo and Gulfstream Park president Tim Ritvo, has moved his tack north to ride at Delaware Park, Laurel Park, and Parx Racing, among other tracks, for the rest of the summer and fall. Ritvo is the sixth-leading rider at the summer meet.

“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity here [at Gulfstream], but there’s going to be even more up there,” Ritvo said. “I’ll be able to ride seven days a week, many of them both day and night.”

Ritvo earned his first career win at Gulfstream on March 23 aboard Little Dreams Racing’s Little Daniella. Since then, the 20-year-old rider has posted 29 more victories. His best day came Aug. 2, when he won four races. He is finishing in the money in 41 percent of his races, fourth-best among Gulfstream’s jockeys with at least 100 starts.

◗ There will be a guaranteed Rainbow 6 pool of $150,000 when racing resumes Friday at Gulfstream. The popular wager was last hit Aug. 7 for $40,807.