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Gulfstream Park: Fort Loudon gets another shot at top competition
By Mike Welsch
As a 2-year-old, Fort Loudon was the favorite son at Calder, the winner of all three legs of the open division of the Florida Stallion Stakes and a respectable seventh, despite breaking from the outside, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
On Saturday, Fort Loudon will be anything but the favorite, and in fact he’ll likely be the longest price in the field in the $1 million Florida Derby. But trainer Stanley Gold is willing to give the son of Awesome of Course one more chance at the big time.
“He ran a decent race to be fourth in the Holy Bull and fifth to Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth,” Gold said of Fort Loudon, owned and bred by Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm. “He had a little trouble at the start of the Fountain of Youth, but not enough to give him an excuse. And he was beaten only nine lengths by Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which is hardly a disgrace.”
Brei and Gold are hardly strangers to the big time. A little more than a year ago, they combined to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and ultimately an Eclipse Award with the undefeated Awesome Feather.
“We’ve decided to give him one more chance, because I think he is capable of a little better than he showed in the Fountain of Youth,” Gold said. “We can always go back to second-tier spots later in the year, if he doesn’t move forward in the Florida Derby.”
Fort Loudon will have a new rider in the Florida Derby, with Jeffrey Sanchez replacing Rajiv Maragh, who was aboard the Florida-bred in both the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth. Maragh will ride News Pending in the Florida Derby.
Aubby K impresses in return romp
Trainer Ralph Nicks was expecting a big effort out of his lightly raced Aubby K in her 3-year-old debut here Sunday. He just never expected her to run quite so big.
Aubby K, a daughter of Street Sense who had not raced since finishing fourth behind On Fire Baby in the Grade 2 Pocahontas five months earlier, exploded through the stretch to a 9 3/4-length allowance victory over older females under jockey Edgar Prado. Her final time of 1:15.51 for 6 1/2 furlongs earned her a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
“I thought she’d run well, but you never know what can happen any time a horse is coming back from a layoff,” Nicks said. “I just never expected a performance like that. She showed a lot out there today.”
Aubby K was similarly impressive in her career debut when winning her maiden by 15 1/2 length at Belmont Park in September. Nicks said he stopped on her after the Pocahontas because she was still a little immature and had some growing pains.
“We’ll see how she comes back from this one before deciding what to do next, although our main goal at the moment will be the Acorn in New York,” said Nicks who will be stabled at Saratoga during the spring and summer.
The Grade 1 Acorn will be decided at a mile at Belmont on May 28.
◗ Beso Grande, a multiple stakes winner at 3, will be among the favorites in Friday’s $66,100 feature carded at 6 1/2 furlongs under mid-level optional claiming conditions. A field of 10 fillies and mares will go, including top contenders Shared Heart, Lady of Greatness, and Anecdote.
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