01/24/2013 5:36PM

Gulfstream Park: Golden Ticket returns in tough spot in Saturday optional claimer

Barbara D. Livingston
Golden Ticket will make his first start of 2013 in an optional claimer Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Golden Ticket, who dead-heated for first with Alpha in the 2012 Travers, will kick off his 4-year-old season under optional claiming conditions in Saturday’s fourth race. Golden Ticket caught a strong field that also includes 2011 Remsen winner O’Prado Again and trainer Todd Pletcher’s lightly raced but up and coming Yes I’m Awesome.

“He’s doing super,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Golden Ticket who closed out his 3-year-old campaign by finishing a tiring 11th on the turf in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. “The race at Hollywood Park was just a test. We liked the distance, but he wasn’t thrilled with the surface and he had a terrible trip. He’ll go back to the surface he likes on Saturday. I have nothing picked out for him beyond this race. If he wins, then we’ll see.”

O’Prado Again has started just twice since winning the Remsen in his juvenile finale. He is coming off a disappointing ninth-place finish on the grass under optional claiming conditions here Dec. 23.

“I’m not sure if he might not be a better horse on dirt than grass,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s done well since his last start, but this came up a really tough race.”

◗ Saturday’s program also features a split entry-level allowance race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Cerro and Sky Captain will be among the favorites in the opening division, while recent maiden winners Orb and Mountain Eagle are among the ones to watch in the second leg.

◗ Pletcher sent out another debut winner Thursday, the 4-year-old Cross Traffic, who stalked and then ran down the well-meant Wickersheim. Both the winner and runner-up are sons of Unbridled’s Song. John Velazquez rode Cross Traffic.

“We got him last summer at Belmont Park, he had a minor setback that held him up. . . . He trained really well since he came back to us at Palm Meadows,” Pletcher said.