03/27/2014 3:12PM

Gulfstream Park: Consistent New York-bred Kharafa capable of Appleton upset

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Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Kharafa has been first or second in eight of his last 10 starts.

In a seemingly wide-open renewal of the Grade 3, $100,000 Appleton Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the New York-bred Kharafa could offer value in his first start of the year.

In his last 10 starts, Kharafa has 4 wins and 4 seconds, albeit against mostly New York-breds. He did end his 4-year-old season last year with a victory at Aqueduct in the Three Coins Up, an open-company stakes that included several New York-breds.

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That race came three weeks after he finished 10th in the Mohawk Stakes. Kharafa displaced his palate in that race and underwent surgery to correct the problem.

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“He was almost ready to run in a prep race that ultimately didn’t end up filling,” trainer Tim Hills said. “His works have been really good. He’s carrying a lot of weight. I feel he’s ready to run his race.”

Though Kharafa has won on the lead before, Hills said he likes the presence of a lot of early speed types in this field because “our best race is stalking.”

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Paco Lopez rides Kharafa from post 3.

Mr. Online is among the speed horses in this group. He won the El Prado Stakes here on Dec. 28 and was beaten a neck by Reload in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf going a mile here on Feb. 22. Kendrick Carmouche rides from post 4.

Tetradrachm second in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale and fourth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf, also figures to be prominent early.

Salto, Hey Leroy, Grand Tito, Five Iron, Fredricksburg, and Cozzetti round out the field.