12/11/2012 3:17PM

Gulfstream: Ward has strong pair for turf sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Great Attack is a Grade 3 winner and has competed in two Breeders’ Cups.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Wesley Ward is off to a quick start at the 2012-13 Gulfstream Park meeting. On Thursday, the former jockey figures to add to his lead in the trainer’s standings when sending out the potent duo of Great Attack and Gentlemans Code in the afternoon’s main event, a $65,000 allowance dash carded at five furlongs on the turf.

Great Attack returns to allowance company for the first time since winning his 3-year-old finale at Churchill Downs in November of 2010. Since that time, Great Attack has become a Grade 3 winner and competed in two Breeders’ Cups, finishing fourth in the 2011 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs and fifth after rallying from far back in the same event last month at Santa Anita.

“I thought he ran a great race to get as close as he did from as far back as he was during the early part of this year’s Sprint especially considering he’d been off a long time and had never been down that course at Santa Anita before,” said Ward. The trainer said that jockey Joel Rosario “rode him brilliantly” when he rallied to win the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs earlier this year “and I think he had in his mind that this race would fall apart the same way. But that usually doesn’t happen in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Gentlemans Code complements Great Attack’s style perfectly, as he figures to be on or with the pace from the outset on Thursday. Gentlemans Code has captured 5 of his last 7 starts, including a similarly conditioned allowance dash at Keeneland on Oct. 25.

“I took both horses up to Palm Meadows and gave them a good work over the turf up there earlier this month and brought them back to Gulfstream and blew them out over this course in hand on Sunday, and we’re looking good,” Ward said on Tuesday. “Basically there’s no place else to run these horses here for a while. With their running styles they shouldn’t get in each other’s way, and as of now I’m planning to start both of them.”

The pace figures to be an honest one, with Gentlemans Code likely to get pressed for the lead by Varsity, Artefacto, and Texas Rustler.

Varsity is one of only two members of the field, along with Musical Flair, with a win over the local course, having won his maiden and an entry-level allowance dash here for trainer Christophe Clement here earlier this year. Both those victories came with Varsity racing either on or right with the pace.

Musical Flair has not won a race since capturing the Needles in his 3-year-old debut here in February. A versatile son of Songandaprayer, he turns back to a sprint after being stakes-placed in each of his last three starts, all those races decided around two turns.

Get Serious also shortens up in distance following a steady diet of longer races and is the class of the field along with Great Attack. Get Serious won the Red Bank and finished third in both the Oceanport and Cliff Hanger, all Grade 3 events, going distances ranging from a mile to a 1 1/16 miles on the grass at Monmouth Park this summer.