03/22/2013 1:05PM

Gulfstream Park: Silver Cloud gets class relief in optional claimer Sunday

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After chasing a mind-boggling 42-second-and-change opening half-mile split in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap, Silver Cloud should find the competition a lot less imposing when he takes on optional-claiming opposition in Sunday’s $62,100 feature, carded for five furlongs on the grass at Gulfstream Park. The race replaces the scheduled main event, the Lord Avie Stakes for 3-year-olds on the main track, which failed to fill.

Silver Cloud finished fifth in the Gulfstream Turf Sprint after attending the lightning-fast pace of Varsity, who still had enough left at the end to register a 1 1/4-length victory over Something Extra. Varsity is scheduled to run next Saturday at Meydan in the $1 million Al Quoz Turf Sprint.

The field for the Al Quoz also will include Great Attack, who defeated Silver Cloud by 1 3/4 lengths earlier this winter in Tampa Bay Downs’s Turf Dash. Silver Cloud rallied from just off the pace in the Turf Dash to gain a clear advantage in early stretch before proving no match for the favorite.

Trainer Jason DaCosta is expecting Silver Cloud to employ a similar strategy Sunday after breaking from the extreme outside under jockey Fernando Jara.

“He has a perfect post and is capable of going right to the lead or stalking,” DaCosta said. “Fernando knows the horse well. He won on him last summer at Calder, and he handles this course just fine, having won a race at Gulfstream earlier in his career. He ran well in both his last two starts in the stakes; they just ran a little too fast for him. This should be a much easier spot for him.”

DaCosta has taken advantage of the optional-claiming clause in the conditions of the race, with Silver Cloud one of four entrants racing under a $62,500 price tag.

Fast Time and trainer Lisa Lewis will be happy to see that the red-hot Determinato will not be in the field. Fast Time has futilely chased the speedy Determinato to finish second in each of his last two starts and will race without blinkers for the first time Sunday.

Wicked Tune and Saint Pete bring the highest last-race Beyer Speed Figures into the contest, with both coming off victories against slightly softer optional-claiming company over the local turf course.

Wicked Tune earned a career-best 90 Beyer for his 2 1/2-length, first-level optional-claiming win here last month for trainer Jane Cibelli, during which he forced a 43-second opening half-mile. Saint Pete will make his first start for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul, who claimed the improving turf sprinter for $25,000 off his late-running, 1 1/4-length victory just 10 days ago.

Rounding out the field are Indirectly A. P., Sneaking Uponyou, and trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.’s uncoupled pair of Mel Beach and Wildcat Creek.