03/27/2014 12:42PM

Gulfstream Park: House Rules primed for first stakes win in Gulfstream Oaks

Barbara D. Livingston
House Rules will try for her first stakes win in Saturday's Gulfstream Oaks at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – When you scour the past-performance lines of House Rules, they are littered with horses who have won or run well in stakes.

When beaten at Gulfstream Park last Dec. 19, House Rules finished second to Please Explain, who came back to win the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and was beaten a length in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn. In winning a maiden race here Jan. 17, House Rules defeated Lucky for You, who came back to win a maiden race and then finish in a dead heat for second in the Sunland Park Oaks.

Lastly, when House Rules finished second to Onlyforyou in the Grade 2 Davona Dale last month, she finished ahead of Aurelia’s Belle, who came back to win the Bourbonette Oaks.

[Florida Derby Day: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

On Saturday, it just might be House Rules’s turn to win a stakes when she faces seven rivals in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks, one of seven undercard stakes on the lucrative Florida Derby program.

The Gulfstream Oaks, which will go as race 6, offers 170 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points spread among the first four finishers (100-40-20-10) in the event that the Kentucky Oaks oversubscribes.

House Rules is trained by 84-year-old Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, who won this race in 2006 – when it was known as the Bonnie Miss – with Teammate.

The Gulfstream Oaks will be the fifth start of the meet for House Rules and her first at 1 1/8 miles. Jerkens is hopeful the daughter of Distorted Humor will handle the added distance.

“She should be able to,” Jerkens said. “That’s [the distance] at which the big races are going to be run later on. She’s done what they’re supposed to do; now it remains to be seen if she can do it again.”

House Rules figures to be in a stalking position after breaking from post 8 under Alex Solis.

“I wouldn’t have picked it,” Jerkens said of the outside post for a race with a short run to the first turn. “It’s up to the jockey.”

Trainer John Servis is quite confident that his filly, Joint Return, can get 1 1/8 miles. He’s not sure her late-running style is going to be successful over the Gulfstream Park main track, which has been favoring horses who run closer to the pace.

[DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from DRF writers and handicappers this Saturday]

Joint Return won three two-turn races in the Northeast, including the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 1, in which she overcame a pedestrian pace to win going away. This will be her first start since then.

“The timing between races and the way [the track’s] been favoring speed are concerns,” Servis said. “But she’s doing so well here, and she’s got a very good turn of foot.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race in three of the last four years, including last year with Dreaming of Julia, who won it by 21 3/4 lengths in a jaw-dropping performance. On Saturday, he sends out In Tune, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song who has won both of her starts, including a front-running score in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming race here Feb. 27. Two horses who finished behind In Tune in her first two starts, Camille Claudel and Whomping Willow, are entered back in the Oaks.

Completing the field are America, fifth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle last fall in her most recent start on dirt; Penwith, fourth in the Davona Dale; and Holiday Magic, last in the Davona Dale.