02/04/2013 3:21PM

Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap will be class test for Unbridled Command

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Barbara D. Livingston
Unbridled Command (above) beat 3-year-olds in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, but taking on the likes of Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry is another story.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Unbridled Command has won his last five starts including the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. But despite such an imposing resume, the talented turf specialist figures to play not only second but third fiddle to Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry in Saturday’s Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Unbridled Command quietly rose to the top of the 3-year-old turf division during the second half of 2012, coming out of New York-bred allowance races to win both the Grade 3 Saranac and the Hollywood Derby against open company during the latter part of the year.

Unbridled Command already made news earlier this winter when a minority interest in the horse was sold to a partnership headed by David Bernsen with provisions for the group to purchase a majority share from owner Lewis Lakin during the season. In fact, trainer Tom Bush faces a bit of a double-edged sword with Unbridled Command in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

“If this horse runs the way I’m hoping he runs, he’s probably going to be sent out of here after the race because the new owners have the option to buy a major interest in the horse,” said Bush. “That’s the agreement. I’m not happy about it but that’s the business. If he runs poorly, then there possibly could be a reconsideration.”

Bush said all indications are that Unbridled Command will be at his best for his 2013 debut.

“The horse is doing terrific,” said Bush. “He’s had a great six or seven weeks down here. We worked him around the dogs at Palm Meadows the other day instead of inside them because his work the previous week was extra strong and we didn’t need to do that again. He’s ready to go but he’ll be facing horses that are on a different level than he’s ever met. Sounds like the field is coming up very small, so at least he shouldn’t get in too much trouble.”