08/07/2014 1:42PM

Gold, O'Connell well stocked for Florida Sire Series

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Sing Praises, the winner of the Birdonthewire Stakes, will top the Dr. Fager in the opening leg of the Florida Sire Series at Gulfstream Park.

Stanley Gold and Kathleen O’Connell, who train for two of the most prominent owner-breeders in the state of Florida, stuffed the entry box for the opening leg of the 2014 Florida Sire Series, which will be run for the first time in the event’s 33-year history at Gulfstream Park this summer.

Gold, who trains for Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm, and O’Connell, whose major client is Gilbert Campbell, have combined to win 22 Sire Series (previously known as the Florida Stallion Stakes) races over the years. Each entered three colts and geldings in Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager and two juvenile fillies for the $100,000 Desert Vixen. All five of Gold’s horses are owned by Brei, while four of O’Connell’s handful of juveniles running in the Sire Series are homebreds for Campbell.

The Dr. Fager and Desert Vixen, both at six furlongs, kick off the series, which originated at Calder in 1981. The second and third legs, to be decided at seven furlongs and 1 1/16 miles, will be run Sept. 6 and Oct. 4.

Gold’s trio in the Dr. Fager is led by Sing Praises, who drew off to a 5 1/2-length maiden victory July 12 in the Birdonthewire Stakes. He’ll also send out the recent maiden-claiming winner Social Media and Of Course. O’Connell counters with Taama, Jaiden’s Best, and Wayne’s Way, all of whom won maiden races in their most recent starts.

[Florida Sire Stakes: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live]

The remainder of the Dr. Fager lineup is comprised of Fierce Tide and Rockmeagain.

Sing Praises, a homebred son of Hear No Evil, figures to be heavily favored in the Dr. Fager. The 80 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in the Birdonthewire easily is best in the field. He also is well drawn, breaking from the outside in the field of eight juveniles.

“I love the post, and hopefully he can get away clean and be that dominant again,” said Gold, who swept the Stallion Series at Calder twice, with Jackson Bend in 2009 and Awesome Feather the following year. “But that being said, there is a lot of speed in this field, including my other two horses, so I’m hoping they don’t get into each other’s way.

“I think all three of them can be a factor, and all three are in there to win. But Sing Praises really had a lot left in the tank after he won the Birdonthewire, and I’m definitely glad to have him on the outside, where Randy [Zimmerman] can kind of do whatever he wants with him. I don’t think this horse necessarily has to be on the lead.”

Of Course, who finished a tiring fourth after prompting Sing Praises’s pace in the Birdonthewire, is the best bred of Gold’s trio, being a half-brother to the multiple stakes winner Hear Ye Hear Ye.

The O’Connell trio will break alongside one another, Taama in post 2, Jaiden’s Best in post 3, and Wayne’s Way from the 4 hole. Each of them was an easy winner on graduation day, with Jaiden’s Best the only member of the group to have won at six furlongs and to have shown the ability to rally from off the pace.

Gold also appears to have a strong hand in the Desert Vixen with Leap Year Luck and Standard Deal among the key contenders. Leap Year Luck is winless in two starts but narrowly missed after a race-long pace duel while stretching out to six furlongs in her last start. Standard Deal was an easy maiden winner at second asking, then had her best chance compromised when stumbling while leaving the gate for the Cassidy Stakes.

“I’m taking a shot with the maiden, but I think she probably belongs in there off her last, and Standard Deal has run into a couple of problems in her races, and I don’t think she’s shown her best yet,” said Gold.

O’Connell counters in the Desert Vixen with Campbell’s impressive debut winner Herecomesmisskitty and I’m a Good Looker. The remainder of the compact lineup consists of Katie’s Kiss, Miss Amalita, and Holywell.

Stonestreet Stable’s Katie’s Kiss bounced back from a disappointing effort in her debut to register an easy maiden win going 4 1/2 furlongs in the slop two weeks ago for trainer David Fawkes.

“She’s a really talented filly who needed that first race,” said Fawkes. “It’s a little quick back, but I expect a big performance.”