12/13/2012 4:47PM

Gulfstream Park: Tune Me In will try to keep Cibelli on a roll in El Prado

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Tune Me In will use next weekend's El Prado as a prep for next month's Sunshine Millions.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Jane Cibelli was an instant hit when stabled regularly at Gulfstream Park for the first time last year. And all signs point to her having an even better season this winter.

The English-born Cibelli won 10 races from just 43 starters during the 2011-12 Gulfstream meet. She also finished fourth in the standings during the corresponding session at Tampa Bay Downs. Cibelli has her barn split again this year, with 16 horses stabled locally and another 30 at Tampa.

Cibelli is off to a fast start at both venues. She has already registered a pair of victories during the opening two weeks at Gulfstream while having won with all three of her starters thus far at Tampa, including the undefeated 2-year-old prospect Purple Egg in the Pasco Stakes.

Cibelli will send out her first stakes runner of the meet next Saturday when Tune Me In goes postward among the top contenders in the $75,000 El Prado on the turf. Tune Me In worked over the main track here Thursday, going an easy five furlongs in 1:01.11.

“I just got him into my barn a couple of weeks ago. He just sort of fell into my lap,” Cibelli said. “Jim Ryerson had him up north and did a great job with him before sending him to me.”

Tune Me In won the Grade 3 Oceanport and Cliff Hanger Stakes this past summer at Monmouth Park and was also third behind Boisterous in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont Park. He is owned by Pat Generazio.

“He came down here to run in the Sunshine Millions next month, and I’m using the race next week as a prep for that one,” Cibelli said.

Purple Egg won his debut at Monmouth Park by nearly five lengths and his entry-level allowance condition at Parx Racing by almost seven. In the Pasco, Purple Egg chased and ran down the graded stakes winner Brave Dave, posting a one-length victory while setting a stakes record in the process.

“We had to scratch him the first two times he was supposed to start because he got loose in the post parade,” Cibelli said. “He was like a wild man in the afternoon and obviously wasn’t going to make it as a stud, but he’s calmed down since he’s been gelded.”

Cibelli plans to bring Purple Egg down from Tampa to make his next start in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.

“I really think he ultimately wants to go two turns, and this race will give us a gradual progression in distance,” Cibelli said. “He certainly has the potential to be the best horse I ever trained, and that’s exciting.”

Tune Me In was one of two horses nominated to the El Prado to work here Thursday along with Where’s The Baby, who breezed an easy three-eighths in 37.38 seconds.

Ward off to a sizzling start

Wesley Ward has jumped right out of the blocks to open the 2012-13 meeting, winning six races over the first seven programs to take an early lead in the trainer standings. Ward captured the 2012 Keeneland fall training title with a dozen victories, two more than runner-up Mike Maker.

“After Keeneland, we came down here and got everything ready early to kind of target the first condition book,” Ward said. “The races were there so far, and the horses have all run accordingly.”

Ward won three 2-year-old races at Keeneland and just missed a fourth when his Newfound Zapper finished second, beaten less than a length, in a key maiden $50,000 claiming race Oct. 5. Newfound Zapper shipped over to Churchill Downs to win his maiden 23 days later on the turf and will make his stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 3 Dania Beach.

“Gatewood Bell bought this horse for my owner in England,” Ward said. “He’s a Ghostzpper, but not one of those typical big, long, gangly types, and he keeps getting better and better with every start. I ran him a couple of times on short rest, but now he’s had better spacing, has trained really, really well over the turf at Palm Meadows, and I’m expecting a big effort out of him on Saturday.”

Pair of intriguing non-stakes

The Dania Beach may actually end up sharing the spotlight with a couple of races on Saturday’s undercard, the sixth for 2-year-olds going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track and the seventh, a second-level optional $62,500 claiming race for older horses going a mile on the turf.

Sky Captain, idle since winning his maiden by 10 lengths at Churchill Downs on July 1, tops the lineup in the sixth race along with Majestic Hussar who has not run since tiring badly behind division leader Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 2 Hopeful.

The seventh race features the first local appearance by the undefeated and untested Console who has won his two previous starts with consummate ease for trainer Thomas Drury Jr. Console, a Claiborne Farm homebred, is stabled with Bill Mott at Payson Park.