01/17/2013 5:06PM

Gulfstream Park: Doubles Partner the class of Sunshine Millions Turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Doubles Partner has finished first or second in all three of his starts over the Gulfstream turf.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After running against graded-stakes company in his last seven starts, with four of his last six in Grade 1 races, Doubles Partner dips into restricted company on Saturday at Gulfstream Park for the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf, a race in which he should be heavily favored to score his third win in four starts over his favorite course.

Doubles Partner raced last year at Hollywood Park, Keeneland, and Churchill Downs, but it is here where he has done his best. Doubles Partner won the Canadian Turf over this course last year, and has finished first or second in all three of his starts on the Gulfstream turf. Add it up, and he will be a formidable foe for his seven rivals in the 1 1/8-mile grass race.

“He’s run some good races here,” his trainer, Todd Pletcher, said Thursday. “This is his first attempt in a restricted race, so he gets some class relief.”

Doubles Partner most recently was third in the Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park behind Data Link and Ultimate Eagle, who subsequently just missed in the San Pasqual. The strength of the Citation was further underscored when Jeranimo, whom Doubles Partner outfinished, came out of that race to win last weekend’s San Gabriel at Santa Anita.

“I thought he ran okay,” Pletcher said of the Citation. “He settled really well, which is important for him, but he was a touch flat down the lane. He got wound up going to the paddock after shipping over from Santa Anita, so we shipped him to Gulfstream from Palm Meadows early to paddock school him,” which Pletcher did with his runners in Thursday’s second race.

Among those facing Doubles Partner is the accomplished Duke of Mischief, a winner of nearly $2 million who is trying to end a seven-race losing streak. He is going back to the turf after a poor effort in the Harlan’s Holiday here last month.

“I’m just throwing some [stuff] on the wall,” said his trainer, David Fawkes. “He needed his last race. Was that the reason he got beat that bad? I don’t think so. He cheated us. He cheated everyone.”

Fawkes also sends out Picou, who is making only his third start since a layoff of more than a year.

“He fits against these,” Fawkes said of Picou, who ran in a $50,000 claiming race last time out. “He’s earned a shot at it.”

Slews Answer is a dangerous returnee for trainer Graham Motion, who sent him out for a second-place finish behind Little Mike in this race last year. Slews Answer has finished first or second in all three of his starts on the Gulfstream turf.

Teaks North, now trained by Michelle Nevin, faltered in his comeback race last month, his first start in nearly 11 months.

“He probably needed his last race,” Nevin said Thursday morning. “I’m expecting a better effort this time.”