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Gulfstream Park: Donn has 10 entrants; Csaba, Take Charge Indy draw wide
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A surprisingly large field of 10 horses was entered for Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, adding a degree of drama to Wednesday’s post position draw for the Grade 1 fixture.
The Donn will share top billing on Saturday’s 12-race program along with the Grade 1, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, which not surprisingly lured only six starters because of the imposing presence of Animal Kingdom, Point of Entry, and Unbridled Command, three of the top older grass runners in the country.
The Donn and Gulfstream Turf Handicap are two of four graded stakes on Saturday’s card that also includes the $150,000 Gulfstream Sprint Championship and the $150,000 Suwannee River, both Grade 3 events.
With such a short run to the first turn in 1 1/8-mile races at Gulfstream, inside posts are at a premium. In that regard, Bourbon Courage, Flat Out, Fast Falcon, and Graydar were the major winners drawing posts 1 through 4 respectively. Two of the likely favorites for the Donn, Csaba and Take Charge Indy, were not as fortunate. Csaba will break from post position 7 with Take Charge Indy directly to his outside in post 8.
The remainder of the field includes California invader Ultimate Eagle (post 5), Ducduc (post 6), Pool Play (post 9), and Citrus Kid (post 10).
Flat Out, winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will carry high weight of 121 pounds, one more than Ultimate Eagle and Csaba, with Pool Play next at 119 pounds.
“There looks like there’s some pace in there, some free-running horses who do well on the lead and I would imagine our horse, being as tractable as he is, won’t be too far off the lead,” said Phil Gleaves, who trains Csaba, winner of the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope earlier in the meet. “I don’t think the post will make too big a difference. We’re not planning to go to the lead or race from the back of the pack. We’ll just try to draft in somewhere going to the first turn.”
Pat Byrne, whose Take Charge Indy took the initiative from post 3 to go wire to wire to win the 2012 Florida Derby, said he would have preferred to have been inside again rather than outside. Although he said above all, he wanted to be drawn outside Ultimate Eagle, who he feels will be the pacesetter in the Donn.
Graydar is the most lightly raced member of the well-matched field, having started just three times in his career and never beyond a mile. Graydar fell just .01 second shy of equaling the one-mile course record when he cruised to an easy allowance win here early in the meet and, like Ultimate Eagle, figures to show a good deal of early foot breaking from post 4 under jockey Edgar Prado.
“He’s a lightly raced horse who unfortunately has had a lot of spacing between races, not by design, it’s just the way it worked out,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “We know he likes Gulfstream and decided to take a shot at a big one while he’s in good form. From a talent standpoint and a speed figure standpoint he fits, but we’re going a mile and one-eighth for the first time and doing it against a good group of horses. It’s an ambitious kind of move, a calculated risk, but a good risk-reward scenario.”
Both Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry are using the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap as a prep for races on the Dubai World Cup program at Meydan on March 30. Animal Kingdom, runner-up behind champion Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, is pointing for the $10 million World Cup, while Point of Entry could go next in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic.
Unbridled Command will bring a five-race win streak into the Gulfstream Turf that includes a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in his 3-year-old finale.
Point of Entry, a three-time Grade 1 winner in 2012, carries highweight of 123 pounds on Saturday, conceding two pounds to Animal Kingdom and three to Unbridled Command.
The remainder of the compact field includes outsiders Film Making, Salto, and Where’s The Baby.
This is a really interesting race. My gut feeling is telling me that Graydar and Ultimate Eagle are going to kill each other on the lead. Toss them both. The outside positions battle with Csaba and Take Charge Indy could leave one of them out. I'll toss Csaba. Fast Falcon and DucDuc are absolute tosses and Citrus Kid is going to be five wide in the first turn. Bourbon Courage, Pool Play and Flat Out are going to have a pace to run at. That leaves Take Charge Indy, Bourbon Courage, Pool Play and Flat Out. Box the super and collect the winnings.
U can scratch the two favorites (take charge indy & csaba) they got no shot. This class is too big for csaba and takw charge will not come off such lengthy layoff to beat this tuff field. Flat out is next. He does not like the track. Forget about the California invader ultimate eagle they dont ship and win. The race comes down to Graydar, Bourbon Courage and Fast Falcon. Box that trifecta. Big payoff.
Flat Out is not an early season horse and personally I don't think he likes Gulfstream. I rally like Pool Play. He better on dirt and he proved he liked the track in last race. Added more distance which he loves and there will be plenty of pace for him to run at. This horse is always overlooked and will have good odds. Hopefully they don't let Ultimate Eagle gallop out there. Indy should be tough runs good fresh and loves the track. This will be a good race
I love Flat Out
Ultimate Eagle is BEST!!! PEDROZA will be KING of GULFSTREAM!!!
Saturday seems like the day to play GP. Crazy results on other daze of the weak.
Where Eagles dare. @ GP come saturday!
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