03/13/2012 4:52PM

Gulfstream Park: Soaring Stocks, owner stay hot with allowance win

Barbara D. Livingston
Soaring Stocks has won three in a row for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner E. Paul Robsham Stables.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The last time Soaring Stocks and Apriority met, it was no contest, with Soaring Stocks posting a nose decision over Cajun Breeze in the Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint while Apriority finished far back as the 9-5 favorite.

When the two speedsters faced off again under allowance conditions Sunday, it was a different story with the pair putting on a thrilling stretch battle before Soaring Stocks prevailed by a head. The victory was the third in a row for the red-hot Soaring Stocks, a homebred son of Trippi owned by the equally red-hot E. Paul Robsham Stables.

“I thought it was another big effort on his part,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Soaring Stocks. “He’s really stepped his game up down here. He’s a horse who always trained well and showed promise, so I’m not surprised to see him performing at this level. He’s definitely improved with experience, he’s less intimidated by other horses now, it’s nice to see it.”

Pletcher said Soaring Stocks could return once more before the meet ends in the Sir Shackleton Stakes on Florida Derby Day.

“We’ll have to see, because I also have Travelin Man for the same race,” Pletcher said.

Travelin Man also is owned by the Robsham Stables, which has won with 14 of their 23 starters at the session.

As for Apriority, trainer David Fawkes was delighted just to see his horse bounce back from his disappointing effort in the Sunshine Millions. Apriority won the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector earlier in the meet, but grabbed a quarter badly leaving the starting gate that day and was obviously not himself in his first meeting with Soaring Stocks.

“He looked like he might have been running a little spotty in the lane this time, but overall I was pleased with his performance, although obviously disappointed by the outcome,” Fawkes said. “I think he’s back again, the foot issue is a thing of the past. We’ll see how he comes back, before deciding where to run next. I could send him to Oaklawn for the Count Fleet or keep him here for the Florida-bred race [Sir Shackleton] at the end of the meet.”

Fawkes also reported that Apriority’s baby brother, Bahamian Squall, came back okay from his sixth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 3 Swale. Bahamian Squall had won his only previous start in impressive fashion five weeks earlier.

“We knew it was a big jump going from a maiden win into a graded stakes, and he was a little more keen and a little closer to the pace the second time,” Fawkes said. “I’ll probably drop him back in with allowance company, and there’s a chance we could squeeze one more race in for him before the end of the meet.”

Samuel wins with first U.S. mount

Jockey Jolan Samuel, the leading rider in Barbados in 2010, rode a winner in his very first mount in the United States when guiding Town of Towns to victory in Sunday’s sixth race for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

Samuel, 18, who also has ridden in England and Martinique, came to south Florida at the behest of Joseph and plans to continue riding locally through the remainder of the session and then stay on in the area to compete regularly this summer at Calder.

“It’s very, very exciting,” said Samuel, a native of Bridgetown, Barbados. “Mr. Joseph brought me here to see what it’s like to ride the big track against the big boys.”

Samuel won Barbados most prestigious race, the Barbados Gold Cup, prior to making the trip to the United States.

Calder Starter Series taking noms

Nominations for the unique Calder Starter Series are due by March 26. The Calder Starter Series consists of four races for 4-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $20,000 or less in 2011 and 2012. The races will be conducted at seven furlongs and a mile and 70 yards on the dirt and at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Nomination fees are $50.

Each race in the series carries a $50,000 purse (including $5,000 in Florida Owners’ Awards), with a $5,000 bonus to the trainer of the horse that accumulates the most points at the end of the series. Points will be awarded to the top six finishers in each race. The races will be run April 14, April 28, May 12, and May 26.