03/01/2013 3:48PM

Gulfstream Park: Fort Larned scares off most challengers in Gulfstream Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned may have to face as few as four opponents when he makes his 2013 debut in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It appears the imposing presence of reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Fort Larned will keep the starting lineup to a minimum in next Saturday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Even with Mucho Macho Man not returning to defend his title in the one-mile Gulfstream Handicap after taking ill earlier this week, racing secretary Dan Bork may have his hands full finding as many as five other rivals to challenge Fort Larned in his 2013 debut.

As of Friday, only four horses have been confirmed for the Gulfstream Handicap, including Discreet Dancer, Fort Loudon, and Fair Whit. Swagger Jack, runner-up to Fort Loudon in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, also seems likely for the race.

Trainer Pat Byrne said Take Charge Indy remains a possibility but he is leaning against turning the 2012 Florida Derby winner back to a mile after he finished third going nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Kelly Breen said Thursday that it is even less likely that he will consider Pants On Fire, an easy allowance winner at a mile on Feb. 15, for the Gulfstream Handicap.

“We’re still mulling it over and we have Elliott involved in the decision,” said Take Charge Indy’s trainer, Pat Byrne, referring to WinStar Farm’s president and CEO Elliott Walden. “For my 10 cents worth, I don’t know if I want to back him up to a mile just yet. I’m leaning instead towards the Skip Away at the end of the meet, although he’ll also be nominated to the New Orleans and Oaklawn Park handicaps.”

The Grade 3 Skip Away will be decided at 1 3/16 miles on March 30.

“We’ll probably breeze him a little bit next week,” said Byrne. “If you’ve got a nice handicap horse there are plenty of opportunities. It’s just a matter of getting to the big dance at the end of the year and sometimes it’s not so much where you run but where you don’t run.”

Fair Whit worked five furlongs in 1:02.10 in company with Ducduc here Friday. Ducduc, who is also nominated to the Gulfstream Handicap, was the better of the pair by about 1 1/2 lengths, completing the distance in 1:01.75.

“Right now, I’d say we’ll probably run Fair Whit in the Gulfstream Handicap and save Ducduc for either the Pan American or a $100,000 optional claiming race over the main track that’s also in the book the same day [March 23],” said trainer Shivananda Parbhoo. “I had thought about sending Fair Whit to New York this weekend with Off the Jak for the Tom Fool but changed my mind at the last minute. I want to give him one more chance on the stakes side, and he’s going into the Gulfstream Handicap because I think he’ll run well, not because it’s going to be a small field.”

Summer Front returns in allowance

Sunday’s 10-race program will be highlighted by the Grade 3 Palm Beach but also features the 2013 debut of the multiple Grade 1-placed Summer Front, who will make his first start since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25. Summer Front, who won the Dania Beach here at 2, will return under second-level optional $100,000 claiming conditions going a mile in race 6 for trainer Christophe Clement.

A field of nine was drawn for the co-feature and also includes Big Blue Kitten, who finished third here a year ago in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and third earlier this winter in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Handicap.

Judy the Beauty getting in shape

Judy the Beauty, runner-up in the Grade 1 Spinaway at 2 and the Grade 1 Prioress last summer at Saratoga, made the work tab for the first time this winter when she breezed an easy three-eighths in 38.45 seconds for trainer Wesley Ward here Friday.

Judy the Beauty, who has not finished worse than second in seven career starts, has not raced since finishing second behind the recently retired Dust and Diamonds in Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap on Sept. 22.

Little Mike, Dullahan arrive in Dubai

Trainer Dale Romans said both Little Mike and Dullahan arrived safely in Dubai late Friday morning. The pair left here Wednesday and, according to Romans, laid over in Amsterdam before finally completing their long journey.

Romans said he will wait until his horses have had a couple of days to train over the track at Meydan before determining which of the two races available for them, one at a mile and a second at 1 1/4 miles, they will compete in on March 9. Romans leaves for Dubai next Wednesday but plans to be back in time for the Ocala Breeders’ Company sale of 2-year-olds in training on March 12-13.

◗ Jockey Elvis Trujillo, who was kicked in the thigh in the walking ring prior to Thursday’s ninth race, took off all his mounts on Friday’s program. His agent, Cliff Collier, said Trujillo was expected to be back to fulfill all his engagements on Saturday.

◗ Limited spots are still available for the annual Florida Derby Charity golf tournament to be held at the Westin Diplomat Golf Resort in Hollywood, Fla. on March 26. The cost is $130 with proceeds benefitting the Thoroughbred AfterCare Program. Tee time for the shotgun start, scramble format is noon. Anyone interested in signing up should contact Susan Stofsky at Gulfstream Park at (954) 455 6672.


Michael More than 1 year ago
I like east and west coast horses as long as they are on my tix when they win. I have a west coast bias because I live on the west coast duh....
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
It is truly comical how all the west coast bashers have totally ignored this artcle. Your absence here speaks volumes about your total bias and lends itself to a serious lack of credibiltiy.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Big Jeff... is this the article you were referring to in the comments on the Game On Dude article? If it is, I'm not following what you meant by the "foreign" trainer comment. It is a shame that there are no other "handicap" horses to run against Ft. Larned. I think the other poster made a great point about going against Ft. Larned off of a long layoff. Without looking at any PP's, It looks like a Ft./Fort exacta without Pants on Fire in this. Isn't there enough money where 2nd & 3rd place money is better than a workout? Graydar would make Ft. Larned earn his paycheck... if he's ready to run. As far as spelling and punctuation and grammar on these blogs, it is not easy to write responses in this small box where the font color is "light black." I can barely read what I write (periods & commas & semi-colons) and I do a lot of writing in my work life. I wouldn't worry about any critics on these DRF blogs... they know how hard it is to read what is written.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know how to spell "LOL". Tonight's menue will feature crow. Nothing else, just crow.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know how to spell "menu"?
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Ya I saw that, too late though. Oops. Think the point still got across though,don't you?
John Howland More than 1 year ago
Amen to that!
Jose Luis Corral More than 1 year ago
The Racing Secretary should call the Comma to the Top connections, seems like he's running just about every week now.
Daddy More than 1 year ago
See all YOU East Coast Sh@# talkers? let me pay you back a little Florida racing is dying, small fields small payouts! LMAO!!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Thanks for your support, jock.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Take your pointless touting back to the parking lot - and spend some of your bogus winnings on spelling lessons. Isn't anyone monitoring the appropriateness of comments anymore? This bozo is making the same irrelevant comment on every thread!
nick More than 1 year ago
I can make fun of Mike Watchmaker's ability to size up horses and get totally censured, but this yahoo keeps repeating this over and over and no one at DRF cares. I would say laughing out loud, but it is really sad . . .
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Fella's its spam! drf needs to look at the hardware something has been installed that is allowing these intrusions onto the drf site.
Gunner More than 1 year ago
The shame here is that the Gulfstream Park Handicap used to be a classic Grade One race run at 10 furlongs. Horses already stretched out don't want to back up to 8 furlongs (read: Pants on Fire, Graydar or even 3M) so this is an imaginary prep for nothing. The Donn used to be a prep for this.
Kelly Frazier More than 1 year ago
I'm sure Mucho Macho Man is "ill". Yeah right. I wonder if pulling up lame in his last race has anything to do with it???? They are just dodging Ft. Larned!!
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
when i saw him gallop here the last few days he wasn't lame, Kathy Ritvo has done a great job running this horse when he's 100% running at 90% with horses like Fort Larned are not going to get you anywhere at the end of the year
Kelly Frazier More than 1 year ago
I understand, but as a former horse owner, I get a kick out of these people now days, announcing a horse is not feeling well and scratching them 10 days prior to the race.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Kelly , that is why you are a former horse owner. You and your connections couldn"t tell if a horse is feeling good or bad day to day...
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
What an ignorant statement.
Albert More than 1 year ago
This horse went bad in his last race. He may be galloping soundly now, but that's not the same as racing soundly. I'm still guessing that they don't know what's wrong with him. He's not 'ill' in my opinon; he is off behind and it doesn't show up in gallops. In my experience this is an arthritic problem....in the hocks.
Kelly Frazier More than 1 year ago
I agree.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Blind leading the blind mean anything to you?
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
You should have stopped at " I'm guessing "
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Apparently, all are dodging the BC classic winner, lol! Go Black Beauty!
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
why dodge now? coming off a layoff could be the time to catch him below his best.
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
Shame, Fort needs a challenge instead of a glorified work out. Maybe Pants will make him work up a sweat. Would love to see Take Charge at least go after him or maybe Graydar, who would really put pressure on him.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
My thought exactly!
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
I doubt very much that Graydar has progressed enough from his last race to be ready for the Breeders Classic winner. Even the red hot riding Prado wouldn't want to hook horns with the champ.