01/30/2014 3:29PM

Gulfstream Park: Wildcat Red shortens up for Hutcheson Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Wildcat Red, who began his career with three wins, will look to rebound from his only loss Saturday in the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – If things had gone according to plan, Wildcat Red would have gone two turns for the first time last week in the Grade 2 Holy Bull. They did not, so trainer Jose Garoffalo will take the best option available to him, turning Wildcat Red back to seven furlongs for Saturday’s $200,000 Hutcheson. The Grade 3 event lured 10 3-year-olds, including a pair from the barn of leading trainer Todd Pletcher.

Wildcat Red crossed the finish line first in each of his first three starts but was disqualified and placed second in the 6 1/2-furlong Sunshine Millions Juvenile Sprint in his 2-year-old finale. Wildcat Red stretched out to a mile to launch his 3-year-old campaign in the Gulfstream Park Derby, turning in a game effort only to drop a head decision to General a Rod. As he did when disqualified in the Juvenile Sprint, Wildcat Red was drifting late in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

Confident that Wildcat Red would be able to stretch out around two turns, Garoffalo pointed for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull but withdrew his horse from consideration when he contracted a minor illness the morning entries were to be drawn.

“I’m running in this race because we had to skip the last one,” Garoffalo said. “That’s the option we have. I’m still thinking of running him two turns, but he hasn’t raced in a month and needs to run. This is a good distance for him, and we’ll use the race as a stepping-stone to his next races.”

Garoffalo has secured the services of leading rider Javier Castellano to ride Wildcat Red for the first time in the Hutcheson. Castellano got a chance to test ride Wildcat Red when working him three furlongs in 36.20 seconds this week.

[Clocker Reports: Get Mike Welsch’s clocker reports from Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows]

Pletcher entered Trail Blaze for the Hutcheson but also supplemented Vinceremos, whom he also entered in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Vinceremos overcame a tough trip to win a one-mile maiden special weight event here four weeks ago.

Trail Blaze is coming off a fourth-place finish as the 6-5 favorite in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid.

“His last race was disappointing, but he’s trained well, so we’ll just draw a line through it and try again,” Pletcher said of Trail Blaze’s effort in the Spectacular Bid.

As for Vinceremos, Pletcher called the lightly raced colt a “work in progress.”

“I want to analyze both races and then make a decision with Vinceremos,” Pletcher said. “We’re kind of in that mode where we know he’s a talented horse but think he still needs to learn some things. When he made the lead the other day, he balked a little bit, drifted over to the rail, lost his momentum, and when that other horse engaged him, he came back on again.”

C. Zee, an improved son of Elusive Bluff, easily defeated Trail Blaze when rallying to finish second in the Spectacular Bid after winning his maiden in impressive fashion in his 2-year-old finale.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Pablo Del Monte finished fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Wildcat Red, in the Gulfstream Derby while making his first start on dirt after opening his career with a pair of Polytrack wins and a fifth-place finish on turf in Hollywood Park’s Grade 3 Generous Stakes.

Mighty Brown, the winner of Tampa’s Pasco Stakes this year, Spot, Gambler’s Ghost, Long On Value, and Tashir complete the field.

Tightend Touchdown begins year

Tightend Touchdown, who has not started since finishing in a dead heat for second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, will launch his 2014 campaign in Saturday’s $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.

Tightend Touchdown concluded his 2013 season with a series of frustrating losses, culminating with his big effort in the Breeders’ Cup. The versatile gelding also was second, beaten less than a length, in Parx’s Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap, second in the Grade 3 Parx Dash Handicap and second in Saratoga’s Fiddlers Patriot. Prior to those efforts, Tightend Touchdown, who was reclaimed by trainer Jason Servis for $35,000 last winter at Aqueduct, had won three straight races, including the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap at Penn National.

Spring to the Sky, who faltered late after pressing the early pace along with Tightend Touchdown in the BC Turf Sprint, also is among the leading contenders Saturday. Spring to the Sky has had one start since the Breeders’ Cup, finishing fourth as the favorite under allowance conditions here last month. The first three finishers from that event, Partyallnightlong, Varsity, and Wicked Tune, also have been entered in the Gulfstream Turf Sprint.

The biggest question mark in the race is Travelin Man, a multiple stakes winner on dirt who will be trying grass for the first time. Travelin Man is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector.

“I thought he worked really well on the turf, and some of the Trippis handle the grass,” Pletcher said. “He’s an older horse who we’re trying to revive a little bit, and maybe a switch in surfaces will do that.”