12/02/2011 2:56PM

Gulfstream: Manicero back at best distance for Sunshine State


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Manicero will get to do what he likes to do best, run seven furlongs, when he turns back in distance for Sunday’s $60,000 Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Sunshine State lured a field of nine Florida-breds that also includes Zero Rate Policy, defending champ It’s Never to Late, and Pashito the Che.

Manicero has won three of his four career starts at seven furlongs, his only poor effort at the distance coming here earlier this year when he was bumped and knocked about leaving the gate to essentially lose all chance at the start of the Grade 2 Hutcheson. Manicero bounced right back to capture the seven-furlong Sophomore at Tampa Bay Downs, defeating Turbo Compressor in the process. Turbo Compressor turned the tables on Manicero going 1 1/8 miles last month at Calder when cruising to an easy 10-length victory in the Carl G Rose Classic.

[MORE: Full coverage of the Sunday card from Gulfstream Park]

“I think seven furlongs to a mile is a perfect distance for my horse,” said Leo Azpurua Jr., who trains Manicero for his father, Leo Azpurua Sr. “In the last race at Calder, Turbo Compressor was able to get loose on a slow pace and if you let a good horse like him go out in those kind of fractions he’ll do that every time.”

Manicero also had a little issue at the start of the Carl G Rose when he ducked to the outside at the break. As a result, Azpurua sent him back to the gate to work a blistering half mile in 47 seconds last weekend at Calder.

“I just wanted to make sure he has no issues at the gate and that he’ll come out straight as an arrow, as usual, this next time,” said Azpurua. “He worked really well, is doing super, and I’m expecting a top effort from him on Sunday.”

The distance remains a question for Zero Rate Policy, who has yet to race beyond six furlongs. The 3-year-old Zero Rate Policy is coming off perhaps his best effort to date, a four-length victory in a third-level optional $65,000 claimer over a muddy track at Monmouth Park on Oct. 14.

“I don’t think the extra furlong will make a big difference to him,” said Zero Rate Policy’s trainer, Terri Pompay. “He’s a big, long striding horse so he should be fine. He tailed off on me a little bit this summer, he wasn’t at his best for a couple of races at Monmouth, but he really came forward for his last start and he loves this track. It looked for a while like he was the kind of horse who needed to be on the lead but he showed in his race at Delaware and again last time that he can sit off the pace and he’s got a perfect post to do just that on Sunday.”

It’s Never to Late outgamed Coffee Boy by a nose to capture the first of this year’s two runnings of the Sunshine State on April 9. The victory was one of six on the season for the 6-year-old It’s Never to Late, who easily defeated Zero Rate Policy in his last start on Sept. 13.

Pashito the Che, who finished 12th and last after breaking in the air at the start of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, is winless in four starts this season but showed some renewed life when second behind the front-running Gibson despite a very rough trip in Calder’s Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap on Nov. 12. Like Zero Rate Policy, he too has never been tested at seven furlongs.

Our Edge, third behind It’s Never to Late in the Sunshine State eight months ago, Close It Out, Chiseled Light, Black Diamond Cat, and Too Experience complete the field.

Sunshine State Stakes, Post Time: 4:33 ET Sunday

Purse: $60,000; 7 furlongs





ML Odds


Close It Out

S. Towne

J. Castellano



Pasito The Che

S. Lake

L. Saez



Chiseled Light

D. Harvey

L. Nelson



Black Diamond Cat

L. Bates

J. Leyva



Our Edge

C. Grove

E. Trujillo




L. Azpurua, Jr.

J. Lezcano



It's Never Too Late

J. Cartagena

S. Gonzalez



Zero Rate Policy

T. Pompay

P. Lopez



Too Experience

M. Passley

D. Centeno