12/16/2011 4:18PM

Gulfstream: Finale gets a fresh start in Dania Beach

Barbara D. Livingston
Finale started from post 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and finished seventh after a wide trip.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Finale’s best chance of winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf probably ended at the post position draw, when he pulled unlucky 13. Finale ultimately broke from post 12, but by that point his fate was pretty much sealed, the resulting eventful trip ending in a disappointing seventh-place finish for a colt who came into the race undefeated in three previous grass outings.

Finale fared a little better when entries were pulled for Sunday’s $100,000 Dania Beach at Gulfstream. A son of Scat Daddy, he will begin his journey from post 8, barring defections, while facing a full and very strong lineup that includes the Juvenile Turf runner-up, Excaper.

Finale never had a chance to tuck in at any point during the Juvenile Turf, getting hung wide around the first turn and wider on the second bend. He was able to move within striking distance of the leaders turning for home, but the loss of ground ultimately took its toll as Finale faded to seventh, four lengths behind the winner, Wrote, and two lengths behind Excaper.

According to the Trakus tracking software, Finale ran 79 feet, or more than nine lengths, farther than Wrote and almost seven lengths farther than Excaper.

“He was really compromised by the post position,” trainer Todd Pletcher said when asked to reflect on Finale’s race in the Juvenile Turf. “He ran substantially further than the winner. This came up a hell of a race for the end of the year, you have the Breeders’ Cup favorite and runner-up. I just hope he can save a little more ground this time around.”

Excaper stalked the early leaders, gained command after six furlongs, but proved no match for Wrote while narrowly outlasting Farraaj to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup. Excaper finished second, beaten less than a length by Finale, when the pair first met in Woodbine’s G3 Summer Stakes on Sept. 17. He will get a six-pound shift in weights in his favor from Finale under the allowance conditions of the Dania Beach when the pair cross paths for the third time on Sunday.

“He seems to like to sit up near the pace, but he’s not all that speed-crazy,” said Ian Black, who trains Excaper for the partnership of Richard Kaster and Frederic Weieting. “We look at this race as more of the start of a new season rather than the end of a campaign. I’m pretty sure we’ll eventually try him on dirt at some point. At this age, you pretty much have to find out.”

Coalport, runner-up in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Bourbon in his second career start, is the third member of the Dania Beach field to come out of the Juvenile Turf. Coalport showed brief speed before ultimately finishing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup.

“The jock told me he just didn’t handle the course,” said trainer Wayne Catalano, referring to Junior Alvarado, who has ridden Coalport in each of his first three starts. “He said he just wasn’t the same horse as in his first two races.”

Although the Breeders’ Cup trio will likely receive the most attention, the Dania Beach field is loaded from top to bottom with promising youngsters.

Summer Front is undefeated in two starts and exits a game half-length decision over Liquidity Trap in Aqueduct’s grassy King Cugat overnight stakes.

Italo rallied to defeat Burning Time by three-quarters of a length in Calder’s Arthur Appleton Juvenile Turf, and they meet again in the Dania Beach.

Vee One Rotate, Empire Builder, and Csaba all bring two-race win streaks into their juvenile finales. Csaba is expected to improve even further switching to grass, being a son of Kitten’s Joy out of a War Chant mare.

Starforce outran his odds in his career debut, leading throughout then holding on gamely to post a well earned victory at 20-1 for trainer Michelle Nihei at Churchill Downs on Oct. 30.