03/02/2012 1:06PM

Gulfstream: Road warrior Suzzona back in Florida for Ladies Turf Sprint

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Turf sprint specialist Suzzona won at five different racetracks durijng her 2011 campaign.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Suzzona is a throwback to another era, when trainers thought nothing of loading their horses on a van and shipping them around from track to track to find the right race. On Sunday, Suzzona, who made 10 starts at nine different racetracks in 2011, will return to Gulfstream Park, where she will be among the favorites to win the $70,000 Ladies Turf Sprint. The Ladies Turf will be decided at five furlongs on grass, weather permitting, and drew a full field of 10, including Broken Dreams, whose previous start came against males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Shipping is the easy part for the 8-year-old Suzzona and her trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. Weather is the chief concern for the Maryland-based team, who made the long journey down to south Florida twice in 2011 only to get rained off the turf on both occasions. Suzzona finished a distant sixth over the sloppy track here last January but was scratched when the weather didn’t cooperate on her second trip.

Suzzona, a daughter of The Name’s Jimmy, has won 22 of her 47 career starts, 18 of those victories coming in turf sprints. She was 6 for 10 in 2011 while visiting the winner’s circle at five different tracks. Her best performance was a 1 3/4-length decision over Bounding Bi in the rich Turf Amazon Handicap at Parx.

“She knows how to win, that’s for sure,” said Feliciano, who claimed Suzzona for a bargain $10,000 at Laurel in April 2009. “We put her on the van and it doesn’t seem to bother her. When trying to find five-furlong turf races for a mare like this, you’ve got to ship around. I gave her about a month off on the farm after her final race last season, brought her back to Laurel and worked her a couple of times, saw this race down there, and sent her. To tell you the truth I’m more worried about the weather than the horses she’ll have to face on Sunday.”

Feliciano said he will be looking for another stalking trip for Suzzona, who will reunite with her regular rider, Julien Pimental, in the Ladies Sprint.

“I used to send her right to the front but one day Julien took her back off the pace, she ran well and I think that’s been the key to the success we’ve had with her over the past couple of seasons,” said Feliciano.

Broken Dreams has not started since finishing 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. She raced primarily on the West Coast in 2011 for trainer Tom Proctor, winning a pair of allowance races, including one down the hillside course at Santa Anita. Her only local appearance last season came over the main track, where she finished eighth after an unlucky start in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.

Inspired will attempt to prove her wire-to-wire 1 1/2-length upset in the Pan Zareta on the Fair Grounds turf on Jan. 28 was no fluke. Inspired contested the pace before finishing a tiring eighth behind Suzzona in the Turf Amazon but defeated her five weeks earlier over soft grass in Penn National’s Jenny Wade Handicap.

The versatile Indulgence returns to the turf after finishing a late-running third behind the speedy It’s Me Mom in this year’s edition of the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. In her previous start, Indulgence rallied to be second under high-level allowance conditions going five furlongs on the grass. Trained by Marty Wolfson, Indulgence has finished worse than second just once in five turf sprint tries.