01/16/2014 3:09PM

Gulfstream Park: Toasting has waited for Sunshine Millions Distaff

Barbara D. Livingston
Toasting (left), second in the Comely last time out, won her only previous start at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After Toasting finished second in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, consideration was given to sending her to California for the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. But once she was sent to Florida for the winter, the decision was made to just leave her alone, and bypass the cross-country trip, to point to the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

While the race doesn’t have the Grade 1 cache of the La Brea, the money is good, and the field could be smaller than the seven entered. Both My Pal Chrisy and Sweet N Discreet are cross-entered in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

[Sunshine Millions: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Toasting finished furiously in the Comely, like the Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. The La Brea is at seven furlongs.

“We always had this race in mind as well as the La Brea, but once we got her here, we decided that after traveling to Florida, shipping her to California was too much, so we left her here for the Sunshine Millions,” Tom Albertrani, the trainer of Toasting, said Thursday morning. “Plus, the distance was a factor. We didn’t want to turn her back to a sprint. We decided to leave her around two turns.”

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Toasting never has finished worse than third going 1 1/8 miles. She has yet to win at the distance, but only missed by a head in the Comely. She won her only prior start at Gulfstream, in a first-level allowance last February that was run on a sloppy, sealed track.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Sweet N Discreet, said Thursday he was “leaning slightly” toward this race as opposed to the sprint. If Sweet N Discreet runs in the Distaff, it would be her first try around two turns. She was second in a one-turn mile here Dec. 29 in her most-recent start, also against statebreds, in the Ocala.

My Pal Chrisy is one of two horses entered by trainer Marty Wolfson. My Pal Chrisy was third, behind Sweet N Discreet, in the Dec. 29 Ocala, in which she was 3-5. She was a distant third in this race last year, when the Distaff was run on a sloppy, sealed track.

Devil’s Care would be trying two turns for the first time. She flashed high speed and never looked back in the Ocala, a one-turn mile, which marked her stakes debut.

F-M Sprint: Ullapool on a roll

Ullapool shoots for her third straight win in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, a race whose lineup is in flux owing to the cross-entered status of My Pal Chrisy and Sweet N Discreet.

Neither of those horses might be the biggest worry for Ullapool, though. Ullapool has high speed, and the speedy R Free Roll also prefers the lead, so the possibility of a rapid pace looms.

Ullapool was off for more than a year before returning last fall with a pair of wins in New York, most recently the Garland of Roses at Aqueduct on Dec. 7.

“She’s a talented mare, and she’s coming off a good win,” said Eddie Kenneally, who trains Ullapool. “She’s had several good works here.”

Ullapool, however, did not finish in the money in her two prior starts at Gulfstream, both before Kenneally trained her. She’s a much better horse now. Still . . .

“She’s certainly good at Belmont, where she’s 5 of 6,” Kenneally said. “It’s worth taking the chance. It’s a good purse, against Florida-breds.”

If there is a pace meltdown, My Pal Chrisy would be a formidable late threat, provided she runs in this spot.

Sprint: Ribo Bobo always tough

Ribo Bobo continues to hold his form remarkably well for trainer Jason Servis, having won 10 of 11 starts since defeating $8,000 claimers in his 2013 debut. The competition will be decidedly tougher when Ribo Bobo launches his 2014 campaign in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint, a six-furlong dash that lured a strong field of nine Florida-breds.

Ribo Bobo won nine races in a row before finishing second behind Ben’s Cat in Penn National’s Fabulous Strike Stakes. But he came right back 10 days later to score an easy 2 1/2-length triumph in the Claiming Crown Express.

“I try to spot his races as best I can,” said Servis when asked how he has maintained Ribo Bobo’s form over the last year. “But this race came up really tough for statebreds.”

Ribo Bobo has won most of his races on the lead, but that spot could be occupied in the Sprint with Star Harbour in the lineup.

“My horse doesn’t need to be in front,” Servis said. “He relaxed and laid third with no problem when he won at Monmouth.”

Star Harbour led throughout to capture the Sunshine State going seven furlongs Dec. 8 but faded to finish third after dueling for the lead with ultimate winner Singanothersong two weeks later in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector.

Fort Loudon rallied to finish second in the Mr. Prospector while breaking from the rail for the third time in as many starts. He drew post 5 on Saturday.

“It limits your options when breaking on the rail,” said trainer Stanley Gold, who also will send out Grande Shores in the Sprint. “I think there should be a solid pace in this race, which should help set things up well for both our horses.”

A fast pace also would enhance the chances of late-runners like Close It Out, second in Calder’s Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap in his last start, and Apriority, who seeks to bounce back from a sixth-place effort in the Mr. Prospector.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch