02/05/2015 12:46PM

Multiple horses merit respect in Suwannee River

Barbara D. Livingston
Sandiva, shown training at Palm Beach Downs last Sunday, is the lukewarm morning-line favorite at 7-2 for the Grade 3 Suwanee River.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – This is one of those fun races where limiting the legitimate contenders to three or four just will not do. The Grade 3 Suwannee River is a 1 1/8-mile grass race that will have Gulfstream Park horseplayers studying long and hard in trying to winnow down their multirace tickets.

As the 10th of 13 Saturday races, the $150,000 Suwannee River leads off an all-graded-stakes pick four wager (races 10-13) that ends with the Donn Handicap. Sandiva, making her first start against older horses, is a lukewarm morning-line favorite at 7-2, but only because somebody had to be. An unwieldy field that will max out at 13 fillies and mares has a half-dozen logical winners, if not more, with Pink Poppy, White Rose, Scampering, Cay Dancer, and Nellie Cashman among the others likely to attract solid support.

:: DONN HANDICAP: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

“It is pretty wide open, isn’t it?” asked Trey Abbott, the trainer of Nellie Cashman. “I don’t think anyone wants Sandiva to get first run on them, but there’s really nothing in there that scares you. Our mare has been training really well, and I think she can be right there if she reproduces some of her better races.”

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The 72nd Suwannee River is one of four turf stakes on the card. Earlier in the day, there is a pair of $75,000 turf sprints: the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint for older horses and the Texas Glitter for 3-year-olds.

The 10th running of the Gulfstream Turf Sprint attracted a field of nine, with the rail-drawn Bold Thunder the likely favorite over Amelia’s Wild Ride, Green Mask, El Botas, Prudhoe Bay, and Ancil.

The strength of the inaugural Texas Glitter appears to have drawn to the outside in the form of It’s Not Me and Souper Colossal. Nine also are entered there.

Suwannee River (race 10)


Sandiva (Last 3 Beyers: 88-85-82)

◗ Irish-bred filly jumps outside of age-restricted company for the first time while on a steady improve, having won the Tropical Park Oaks in her most recent appearance for Todd Pletcher. She owns a steady off-the-pace style that could serve her and jockey Javier Castellano well in this bulky field.

White Rose (Last 3 Beyers: 94-86-76)

◗The distance might be a tad short for a long-striding mare who just keeps grinding away, although she’s liable to be fresh and eager for this, given the 3 1/2-month layoff.

◗Gray 5-year-old Tapit mare will be looking to pick up the slack for the ownership team of Rashard Lewis and Jake Ballis, who recently were disappointed when their stable star, Cigar Street, was sidelined by a knee injury.

Pink Poppy (Last 3 Beyers: 90-82-78)

◗Arindel homebred used an eye-catching backstretch run in the Sunshine Millions to capture her first stakes and now sets her sights on the graded ranks. Trainer Marty Wolfson’s exemplary work with fillies and mares of all types is well documented.

Gulfstream Turf Sprint, race 5


Bold Thunder (Last 3 Beyers: 101-85-94)

◗A true professional in this turf-sprint niche, he scaled the triple-digit Beyer mark in dominating a solid group at Tampa Bay Downs four weeks ago and seems never to have been better.

◗It has been a brutal Gulfstream meet for Patricia Farro (0 for 42 into Thursday’s action), but her overall body of work ($28.3 million in stable earnings) shows that she hasn’t forgotten how to train a racehorse.

El Botas (Last 3 Beyers: 92-89-86)

◗Trainer Jorge Navarro, who continues to excel in a variety of situations, may have found the key to this 4-year-old colt when switching him over to turf last time; easy victory came in just his second start on grass.

Texas Glitter, race 3


It’s Not Me (Last 3 Beyers: 80-77-84)

◗Speedy gelding was claimed by Navarro for $16,000 last fall and has proved to be quite a bargain, having won three of four subsequent starts, including a pair of ungraded stakes. There’s a ton of speed in here to accompany him, but there’s little doubt that he will be a factor a long way.

Souper Colossal (Last 3 Beyers: 81-87-77)

◗The layoff and new surface obviously pose questions, but he does seem to bring a class edge to this after being just 10-1 against the best of his class in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.