03/05/2012 12:33PM

Gulfstream Park: Gentlemans Code gets back on turf after break

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In 2009, Wesley Ward became the first American trainer to win a race at Royal Ascot when Strike the Tiger won the Windsor Castle Stakes at odds of 33-1. Two years later, Ward nearly did it again with Gentlemans Code, who led to the stretch before tiring to finish fourth of 24 in the 2-year-old dash.

Gentlemans Code will finally return to the grass for the first time since the Windsor Castle when taking on 11 American rivals in Wednesday’s $62,750 feature at Gulfstream Park.

Gentlemans Code has not started over any surface since finishing fourth behind Fort Loudon in the seven-furlong Affirmed Stakes last August at Calder. In his previous try, Gentlemans Code chased home only She Digs Me in Monmouth’s Tyro. She Digs Me returned in his next start to capture Saratoga’s Grade 2 Sapling by six lengths.

Gentlemans Code, a son of Proud Accolade owned in partnership by Ward and Ice Wine Stable, registered his only career victory last spring in England when beating just two rivals in a maiden race on turf that served as a prep for the Windsor Castle.

“He ran a poor race at Calder and had been in training a long time getting ready for the trip to England, so we just decided to give him a break and freshen him up,” Ward said. “The stakes at Calder was really the wrong spot for him, but I had another horse that day for the five-eighths on the grass, so I decided to try him at seven furlongs and it was a mistake. I think he’s going to be strictly a sprinter and best on Poly or turf. He might just be a little short coming up to this race Wednesday, although I still expect him to run okay.”

Faretti is the only undefeated member of the field. Trained by Christophe Clement, Faretti overcame a slow start before rallying steadily through the stretch to earn a game nose decision when launching his career over the local strip Feb. 2. The son of Tale of the Cat retains the services of leading rider Javier Castellano on Wednesday.

Play Eighteen was compromised by a slow start, but was still good enough to rally from the rear of the field to finish fourth under similar conditions making his local debut Jan. 16. Play Eighteen, who was haltered for $15,000 late last summer at Delaware Park, had raced on or near the lead in all six of his previous starts.

Martini Madness has been stakes placed twice in three tries on grass. He finished third, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths, after making the lead in early stretch in the five-furlong Needles overnight stakes here earlier this winter.