12/28/2012 5:11PM

Gulfstream Park: Cigar Street looks good in comeback

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Cigar Street, shown winning his maiden last winter at Fair Grounds, returned from a long layoff to score in an allowance Thursday at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Bill Mott has plenty of star power in his barn for the upcoming season, a group led by two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta, the multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek, and Flat Out. Mott’s arsenal got even stronger Thursday with Cigar Street, who returned from nearly nine months on the sidelines to register a very impressive allowance win over the Grade 1-placed Fast Falcon.

Cigar Street, a son of Street Sense, had not started since finishing fourth while beaten just two lengths despite an unlucky trip in the Louisiana Derby. Cigar Street, who earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure when winning his maiden in just his second career start last winter at Fair Grounds, won his comeback despite being hung wide throughout and while under confident handling at all times by jockey John Velazquez.

Cigar Street is owned in partnership by Miami Heat forward Rashad Lewis and his longtime friend and business manager Jake Ballis. Cigar Street began his career with trainer Steve Margolis, but was transferred to Mott’s barn after recuperating from a hairline fracture sustained shortly after the Louisiana Derby.

“We were pointing to the Peter Pan when he got hurt,” said Ballis, whose father John campaigned the top sprinter Groovy. “We gave him plenty of time off with Bill Recio in Ocala. He did a great job with the horse, and we thought it would be a great fit to send him to Bill Mott once he was ready to leave the farm.”

Lewis was unable to attend the race, but watched Cigar Street win on his computer from his hotel room in Detroit, where the Heat played the Pistons on Friday night.

Easy breeze by Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom continues to keep a regular workout regime at Palm Meadows, where he breezed another easy half-mile in 54.15 seconds around the dogs over the turf course Friday. Animal Kingdom remains on target for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9.

The bullet five-furlong dirt work on Friday’s Palm Meadow tab belonged to Soldat, who drilled the distance in 1:00.79 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Soldat, winner of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here last winter, has not started since finishing sixth in an overnight stakes over the Aqueduct turf course Nov. 17.

The most intriguing name on the Gulfstream work tab Friday was Wrote, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Wrote, whose last start came in the Group 1 St. James Palace Stakes on June 19, breezed three furlongs in 36.35 seconds for trainer Giuseppe Iadisernia.

◗ Jockey Orlando Bocachica returned to action Friday, less than 24 hours after being knocked to the ground by his mount Imperial Bluegrass in the paddock prior to Thursday’s fifth race. Bocachica took off his only other mount on the card. Imperial Bluegrass was scratched.