03/04/2014 3:24PM

Gulfstream Park Handicap: Falling Sky might be horse to beat

Barbara D. Livingston
Falling Sky and jockey Luis Saez win the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship on Feb. 8.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Most of the attention Saturday in the Grade 2, $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap will be focused on Palace Malice and Itsmyluckyday, two of the major players on last year’s Triple Crown trail. Both will launch their 4-year-old campaigns in the race.

But the horse to beat could be another member of last year’s Triple Crown crop, Falling Sky, who already has turned in a couple of big efforts over the track this winter, including a 5 1/2-length triumph in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship on Feb. 8.

Falling Sky finished 19th and last in the 2013 Kentucky Derby but seems to have found his niche this winter in one-turn races at distances ranging from seven furlongs to a mile. Trained by George Weaver, Falling Sky finished a game second to the odds-on Revolutionary in his 2014 debut going a mile in January before turning back to seven-eighths to dominate the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint, earning a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We had some bad luck when I first ran him this fall at Laurel, but I was confident he’d run well when we brought him back down here since he’d already shown a liking for this track last winter,” Weaver said. “I thought he ran a very good race against Revolutionary, and then everything really came together in the Sprint.”

Weaver said he considered several options for Falling Sky after the Sprint, including the San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita or awaiting the Grade 1 Carter in New York, before opting for the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap.

“If I had my choice, I’d say seven furlongs is his optimum distance,” Weaver said. “But I really didn’t want to ship him all the way to California, and he’s such a feeling-good type of horse, I don’t think it would have been in his best interests to wait seven or eight weeks for the Carter.

[Clocker Reports: Get Mike Welsch’s clocker reports from Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows]

“His speed is really an asset over this track, and I think he’s a stronger, fitter, and tighter horse than he was when he ran a mile last time against Revolutionary. So, I expect he’ll be able to handle stretching back to that distance just fine on Saturday.”

Falling Sky will carry 118 pounds in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, one fewer than starting highweight Palace Malice and two more than Itsmyluckyday. Other likely starters include Brujo de Olleros (117), Sr. Quisqueyano (116), Narvaez (115), and Reveron (114).

Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Falling Sky is in top shape. If the early to mid-day bias favors speed he'll be gone as Itsmyluckyday needs a race and a mile is a little short for Palace Malice!!! - RAMMER
tim More than 1 year ago
Itsmyluckyday comes back a winner and starts thinking Met Mile!
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
LoganKenly More than 1 year ago
When I was looking at the nominations for the race, I saw a lot of contenders but probably not all will make it. Some I saw were Alpha, Brujo De Olleros, Csaba, Golden Ticket, Falling Sky Romansh, Micromanage, Neck' N Neck, Itsmyluckyday, Palace Malice, and Revolutionary. Palace Malice will win by at least 3 lengths with either Brujo De Olleros, Itsmyluckyday, and maybe Falling Sky.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
If palace malice wasn't in this race I would bet falling sky. I don't like it'smyluckyday
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Palice malice should win this race sitting a good stalking trip behind falling sky. Revolutionary beat him at a mile and Palace Malice is a way better horse than revolutionary
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I know I ain't getting odds I had last out. I new he was going run big last out.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
I had him last race. I couldn't believe he got 20/1 ml then went off at 14/1
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
On a speed bias track yet. May been the best play so far the year.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Definitely agree
tim More than 1 year ago
Yup. You are getting around 2/1 in a race much tougher than the one he romped in. Doesn't make much sense to chase him back. I think Itsmyluckyday lays close and runs by him to win. Loves this track.
jttf More than 1 year ago
i think it is important for this horse to have a lone wolf lead. dont like playing horses coming back after ankle chips.