12/22/2012 7:10PM

Gulfstream Park: Post 14 in El Prado no problem for Nikki's Sandcastle

Courtney Heeney
Nikki's Sandcastle, ridden by Corey Lanerie, collects his fourth win of the season in the El Prado.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Trainer David Kassen said he contemplated scratching Nikki’s Sandcastle after drawing post position 14 for Saturday’s $75,000 El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Instead, he was rewarded with an early Christmas present after his red-hot turf specialist circled the field en route to a three-quarter-length victory over 18-1 longshot Kharafa in 1 1/16-mile overnight stakes.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, who had already won the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes here on opening day, ultimately wound up breaking from post 13 following the scratch of Hollinger from the El Prado. Angled over by jockey Corey Lanerie to save some ground during the early stage of the race, Nikki’s Sandcastle unleashed a steady rally once taken to the extreme outside on the second turn, roaring past the tiring leaders to his fourth victory of the season.

Kharafa slipped along the hedge to be second best, finishing  1 1/2 lengths in front of 2-1 favorite Salto, who gained command in early stretch before weakening gradually through the final furlong.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, a son of the Irish-bred Castledale, is trained by Kassen for owner Richard Sherman. He concluded his 2012 season with earnings of nearly $265,000.

“We were very concerned about the post and were really seriously thinking about scratching because of that,” said Kassen. “We have another race down the road in Texas that we were maybe planning for on the 26th and I was thinking this would be a good prep for him even if we don’t win. Rather than having to do a lot of training I’d just as soon  run him. So it worked out well.”

Kassen was referring to the $200,000 John Connally, a Grade 3 Stakes, at Sam Houston on Jan. 26.

“He seems to love this track and the jock rode him good,” said Kassen. “He looped the field but that’s all it took you know. Just stay out of trouble and don’t get stopped.”

Kassen said he will still consider the Connally or he could keep Nikki’s Sandcastle in Florida for turf stakes later in the meet.

“The race in Texas is for $200,000 and it will probably be a lot softer than the horses he’ll have to run against around here,” said Kassen.



PeterG More than 1 year ago
Should have said "on average" you're getting $1.98 back for every $2.00 bet on Lanerie.
PeterG More than 1 year ago
This horse runs every time. He's only been out of the money once in the last 11 races and that was at 10 furlongs at Arlington on "good" turf when he faded but still only lost by 4.25 lengths. He had trouble or wide trips in several of the other 10 races. Solid racehorse obviously. Maybe not a top level turfer at least not yet but certainly good enough for slightly lower level stakes races. Lanerie is at -.02 cents return on every $2 dollars bet on him in his last 1088 rides. (So you're getting $1.98 back every time) That's very good. He's not bringing in all chalk.
Randy Atkins More than 1 year ago
Sweet...I want to thank the crowd at GP for that generous 5/1 on Nikki...he could have been in PP20 and still won...a good horse can win from any PP if the jockey is good enough to stay clear of trouble...way to go Corey!!!
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
Sweet trip. Great stride.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
He started to pick it up at the half-pole and Lanerie kept him clear. We'll see more of this team.
Doug Pearson More than 1 year ago
You deserve it Corey, keep it going.
Doug Pearson More than 1 year ago
Dale Romans is putting him on quite a few of his horses so do the math people, he just won the last two riding titles @ Churchill and he comes from a good background.
Doug Pearson More than 1 year ago
Watch this jockey because he can ride.