03/19/2013 1:56PM

Gulfstream Park: Twigazuri Strait shortens up to a mile


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After getting an opportunity to test his lungs last month in stretching out to 12 furlongs for the first time, Twigazuri Strait will turn back to a mile on turf for Thursday’s $58,850 entry-level allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Twigazuri Strait, a son of the top turf sire English Channel and trained by Michelle Nihei, prompted the pace going 1 1/2 miles but could not kick on late in his three-turn debut, finishing sixth, although beaten less than three lengths by the long-winded veteran Livingston Street.

Twigazuri Strait had posted career-best Beyer Speed Figures in each of his three previous starts, winning both his maiden and a lower-level conditioned claimer to close out his 3-year-old campaign before dropping a heartbreaking nose decision to Change of Command under first-level allowance conditions at 1 1/16 miles here Jan. 12.

Nihei will reach out for her go-to rider, replacing Jeffrey Sanchez with John Velazquez, on Thursday.

Twigazuri Strait is one of four multiple winners in the field. Both Professor Palmer and Lemon View come into the race with four victories apiece on their records, although both have found making the jump into the allowance ranks a difficult task.

Professor Palmer, claimed for $25,000 out of his last start by trainer Ingrid Mason, will be seeking his second win of the meet, having already defeated $25,000 claimers going nine furlongs Jan. 17. He is the only member of the field to have won twice at a mile, both those tallies coming last season against weaker conditioned-claiming opposition at Monmouth Park.

Lemon View has lost his last six starts against entry-level allowance foes, although he has been knocking of the door recently in the category. A son of Lemon Drop Kid, he was transferred to trainer Katerina Vassilieva from Scott Fairlie at the conclusion of his 2012 campaign at Woodbine. He has been defeated a combined total of less than two lengths over his last three starts, a frustrating streak that included back-to-back half-length setbacks here this winter.

Saint of Saints is coming off a promising turf debut, a fourth-place finish in which he had to overcome trouble on the opening bend, in a race carded under similar conditions as Thursday’s main event. Saint of Saints indicated he came out of that effort razor-sharp by working a swift half-mile in 46.80 seconds over the main track 11 days later.

River Boss and Happy Fella are the only two 3-year-olds in the field. River Boss won his first start on grass when he rallied to a neck decision under a $75,000 claiming price on Feb. 24. Happy Fella will stretch out around two turns for the first time after beginning his career with a steady diet of sprints that included a 7 1/2-length maiden win going five furlongs here Dec. 27.