12/05/2013 2:22PM

Gulfstream Park: Ribo Bobo back on short rest for Claiming Crown Express

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Ribo Bobo, who had a nine-race winning streak snapped last out, will be favored in the Claiming Crown Express.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – If they gave out an Eclipse Award for “claim of the year,” Ribo Bobo would be a leading candidate, if not the overwhelming favorite, to capture the honor. So, it is only fitting that Ribo Bobo will end his almost-perfect 2013 campaign as one of the marquee names on Saturday’s eight-stakes Claiming Crown program at Gulfstream Park when he goes postward as the odds-on favorite to win the $110,000 Claiming Crown Express.

Ribo Bobo has won nine of his 10 starts in 2013, with his only setback coming Nov. 27, when he finished second, beaten a half-length by the multiple graded stakes winner Ben’s Cat, in Penn National’s Fabulous Strike Handicap.

Trainer Jason Servis claimed Ribo Bobo twice here earlier this year, first for $8,000 on Jan. 9 and again two months later for $6,250. Through all the barn changes, Ribo Bobo, a 5-year-old son of Louis Quatorze, just kept winning, posting nine straight victories at six different venues before finally tasting defeat in the Fabulous Strike.

Among those wins were one-sided tallies in the Icecapade Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap at Laurel Park.

[CLAIMING CROWN: Watch Saturday's full Gulfstream card LIVE]

“I planned on coming to the Claiming Crown all along but decided to take a shot at Penn National first,” Servis said. “Fortunately, he came out of the race great. We got him right down here, and this race will fit in perfectly because it gives us six weeks to his next start, which will be the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 18.”

Ribo Bobo, who has posted career-best Beyer Speed Figures of 104 and 102 in his last two starts, will break from the rail under Paco Lopez in the six-furlong Express.

For those who think Ribo Bobo might be coming back a bit quickly or could be hampered by his inside post, logical alternatives might be Never Stop Looking, who has finished second in his last four starts, all against optional-claiming company, or the south Florida-based Chelsea Brook, riding a two-race winning streak for trainer Ralph Ziadie.

Strong field for Emerald

The $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald drew a strong field led by the Grade 3-placed Plainview and the red-hot Major Marvel.

Plainview, who finished second behind Za Approval in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker this fall at Belmont Park, was run down late by the multiple-stakes-winning New York-bred Kharafa when the runner-up in Aqueduct’s Three Coins Up Stakes in his last start.

Major Marvel has won eight of his nine starts, all for trainer Mike Maker and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, since finishing second, beaten a head by Nikki’s Sandcastle, in the 2012 Emerald.

Alley Oop Oop heads the local contingent in the 1 1/16-mile Emerald, although he has not started since finishing second against top-level allowance horses over a turf course that was softer than its designation as firm here Aug. 3.

“He wrenched his shoulder over the soft ground in his last start, and we had to give him time to recuperate,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “He’s had four solid works in preparation for this race, and I think he’s ready to give his top effort. He certainly has the quality to belong in that field.”

In other Claiming Crown races:

◗ The $110,000 Iron Lady kicks off the Claiming Crown series with Winiliscious likely to be an odds-on favorite to defeat seven other fillies and mares who have started for $7,500 or less since Jan. 1, 2012. The Iron Lady will be decided at 1 1/16 miles.

◗ The $110,000 Glass Slipper, at seven furlongs for fillies and mares, is topped by the Marty Wolfson-trained pair of Centrique and Lexington Pearl, who will race uncoupled in the wagering. Centrique gets some class relief after finishing third in the Bold World Handicap at Calder, while Lexington Pearl exits a four-length victory against midlevel optional-claiming types Nov. 24.

◗ Kingsford Drive, who has won two of his last three main-track starts, all in New York, might be a slight favorite over Grande Shores and the Mike Maker-trained duo of Ghost Is Clear and Be Brave in the $110,000 Rapid Transit. Maker is trying to defend his title in a race he won last year with Bernie the Maestro, who runs Saturday in the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.

◗ The $125,000 Tiara, which was added to the Claiming Crown card this year, features recent stakes winner Deanaallen’skitten against 10 other fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on grass.

◗ Brother Bird is back to defend his title in the $110,000 Iron Horse, although he has had two disappointing starts since returning from a layoff of more than eight months in September. Highlighting the competition are West Virginia Governor’s Cup runner-up Whatthecatdrugin, who must break from the disadvantageous post 13 going 1 1/16 miles over the main track, Deputiformer, Red Hills, and Froggyville.