11/09/2017 11:30AM

Mr. Jordan, Richard the Great prep for Sunshine Millions Classic

Email
Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Mr. Jordan wins the 2016 Millions Classic Preview Stakes.

The $75,000 Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream Park West on Saturday has an intriguing matchup between last year’s winner, Mr. Jordan, and Richard the Great, who will stretch out to a middle distance for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

The Millions Classic Preview, which drew eight horses, is a prep for the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 20. It is one of eight $75,000 stakes races for Florida-breds that will make up the bulk of the 11-race Saturday card, which begins at noon Eastern. Post time for the Classic is 4:37 p.m.

Last year Mr. Jordan went into the Millions Classic Preview off a 9 1/4-length romp in an open allowance race at Parx Racing that came on the heels of a narrow loss in the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes. In his most recent start he finished last after an awkward start in the Pennsylvania Derby Champion at Parx on Sept. 23.

The Edward Plesa-trained son of Kantharos should be happy being back at Gulfstream Park West, where he is perfect in three starts.

“I know he likes this surface,” Plesa said. “He had an excuse in his last race when he broke outward and made hard contact with the horse next to him. I’m feeling as good as I can going into a race.”

:: Get bonus PPs for Saturday's Ben’s Cat Day card at Laurel Park

Mr. Jordan will break from post 7 with Edgard Zayas riding. He has good speed, and if he breaks well he shouldn’t be too far off what will likely be a fast and contested pace.

Trained by Stanley Gold, Richard the Great will appreciate the class relief after finishing eighth in the Grade 2 Phoenix at Keeneland on Oct. 6. In his previous two starts, both at Gulfstream Park with Emisael Jaramillo riding, the 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor was the runner-up in the $50,000 Groomstick on Sept. 2 and romped in the $50,000 Trinniberg for Florida-breds on Aug. 12. He earned a career-best 101 Beyer Figure in the Trinniberg.

Being a half-brother to multiple route stakes winner Bernie the Maestro, Richard the Great has the pedigree to get a middle distance.

“He’s bred to go long,” Gold said. “If we’re going to try him long, we’re not going to find a better spot.”

Richard the Great drew post 5 with Jaramillo regaining the mount from Florent Geroux. He has excellent speed, but is also capable of stalking.

Mama Joyce has improved dramatically in her last two starts for trainer Ralph Nicks and should be favored in the Millions Distaff. She will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post 7 in the seven-furlong dash, which drew 12 fillies and mares.

Nicks trained the 4-year-old daughter of First Dude when she won a $50,000 maiden-claiming race by more than 10 lengths at Gulfstream in her second start as a 2-year-old. Following her blowout win, owner Donald Dizney transferred her to trainer Brad Cox. Dizney lost her when trainer Joe Sharp claimed her for $30,000 out of her third start for Cox at Churchill Downs in 2016. Nicks claimed her back for Dizney out of a runner-up finish in a $40,000 claiming race at Belmont Park on June 16.

In two starts since being reunited with Nicks, she beat next-out winner Alpine Sky by a neck going a one-mile in an optional $62,500 claiming race with second-level allowance conditions Aug. 11, and then romped by four lengths in the $50,000 Sea of Grass.

“She showed me talent in the beginning, so it didn’t surprise me that she ran well,” Nicks said. “It would be nice to get her a stakes win.”

Sweet Khaleesi is a serious threat for Gold. Since being transferred to him she has two wins and two runner-up finishes. The 4-year-old daughter of Maimonides is coming off a narrow victory over Money or Love in the $50,000 Sugar Loaf Key at Gulfstream Aug. 26. Money or Love is also entered in the Millions Distaff.

Splash Rules will be gunning for his fourth straight win for trainer John Vinson and jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the Millions Sprint Preview.

In his last two starts, both at Gulfstream, Gaffalione brought him from a stalking position to win the $50,000 Groomstick Handicap on Sept. 3 and the $50,000 Alabama Jacks Handicap on Oct. 1.

He drew the rail in the six-furlong Millions Sprint Preview, which drew seven horses.

Enterprising will attempt to defend his title in the Millions Turf Preview.

The Michael Maker-trained son of Elusive Quality will appreciate the class relief after running seventh in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 15.