04/22/2011 4:02PM

Gulfstream: Six rich races for Florida-breds bring down curtain on 2011 meet

Adam Coglianese
Trip for A.J., winning the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, adds a touch of class to the Capital Request on Gulfstream's closing-day card.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The record-setting 2011 Gulfstream Park meet comes to an end on Sunday with a 12-race card that includes six races worth $400,000 for Florida-breds. Racing on the south Florida circuit switches across town to Calder on Monday.

The 2011 meeting set new standards at Gulfstream for ontrack handle, total handle, and total purse distribution. The total handle of more than $32 million on Florida Derby weekend was also a record while the average starters per race of 9.8 was the highest in track history.

“We were fortunate with the weather and we also listened to the customers requests with the new bets and were very customer friendly, which was the reason for a lot of our success both on- and offtrack this winter,” said Tim Ritvo, who served his first season as vice president of racing at Gulfstream Park. “Being able to use the turf course to its full advantage and run over 50 turf races more than last year with fuller fields also helped business immensely. Our field size, which averaged just under 10 starters per race, could also be a record for any meet of this length and magnitude anywhere in the country.”

The best of the six statebred races is the $75,000 Capital Request, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares that lured the multiple stakes winner Trip for A.J. and graded stakes-placed Romacaca, along with Grade 3 winner Sweet Repent, who is entered for main track only.

Trip for A.J. is coming off a one-length victory earlier this month in the Turf Distaff at Tampa Bay Downs. She registered the richest win of her career earlier this season in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. Overall, Trip for A.J. has won 8 of 16 starts and more than $450,000.

Trio for A.J. will pay a price for her success, carrying high weight of 123 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Capital Request. She will concede weight to each of her seven rivals, including Romacaca, who makes her first start since winning a high-priced optional claimer race here on Feb. 11 for the meet’s leading owner, Frank Calabrese, and trainer Nick Canani.

Romacaca, who finished third in the Grade 3 Pucker Up at 3, won the Firecracker at Mountaineer and set the pace into the stretch before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. during the summer of 2010.

Sweet Repent has not started since having her five-race win streak snapped when she finished third as the 1-10 favorite behind Trip for A.J. last July in Calder’s Nancy’s Glitter. Sweet Repent is also a Sunshine Millions winner, having captured the 2010 Distaff by nearly four lengths for trainer David Braddy.

Calabrese and Canani may also have the horse to beat, Without Love, in the $75,000 Cherokee Frolic Starter. She will face six rivals, including multiple stakes winner Devilish Lady.

Reprized Halo, winner of Calder’s In Reality at 2 and the OBS Championship earlier this year, tops the lineup in the $75,000 Shake You Down Starter.

Roman Tiger, winner of the Florida Thoroughbred Charities on closing day a year ago, will return from a nine-month layoff in the similarly conditioned, $75,000 Island Whirl Thoroughbred Charities.

Flamin Hot, who was a multiple stakes winner in a series of turf sprints a year ago, will try to stretch his speed out to a mile in the $50,000 Carterista Starter, and Marquet Madness is likely to be favored in the wide-open, $50,000 Coolbythepool Starter.