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Notable names add spice to Gulfstream undercard
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Although the $60,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Handicap is officially the feature race on Sunday’s program, it is the undercard that should draw the most attention, with a pair of attractive allowance races featuring a number of once-prominent horses on the docket.
The fourth race is 1 1/8-mile, high-priced optional claiming race on the turf and drew a field that includes such notables as 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up and multiple Grade 1 winner Presious Passion, Never On Sunday and Yate’s Black Cat, second and fourth, respectively, here last winter in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap; Grade 3 winner Lethal Combination, the Grade 3-placed Pinckney Hill, and the Brazilian-bred Group 1 winner Moryba.
The strength of the field is overshadowed by a number of question marks concerning the major players. Presious Passion, Yate’s Black Cat, and Pinckney Hill have not won a race since leaving here last spring. Never On Sunday is winless since May 2009 in France, and Moryba has yet to start in the United States or anywhere since capturing the Group 1 Grande Premio Brasil on Aug. 1.
“It’s a race for has-beens, except for the Brazilian horse,” trainer Patrick Biancone quipped Friday.
Biancone will send out Never On Sunday who was second in the Grade 3 Pan American here last spring but has been outrun in both starts since returning from a six-month hiatus precipitated by a tendon issue.
“My horse had a little tendon problem, it was more the sheath than a tendon, but it took us longer to get him back than we thought,” Biancone said. “I’m just throwing his last start out over that turf course at Calder. He’s doing well. Most of these horses haven’t won anything since May, so if he doesn’t win this race, we’re in trouble.”
The ninth race also is carded under optional claiming conditions at a mile on the main track. Among the 10 prospective starters are Mission Impazible and Homeboykris, who competed in last year’s Kentucky Derby, and William’s Kitten, who was on the Derby trail here last winter before being sidetracked by injury.
Mission Impazible, winner of the 2010 Louisiana Derby, has not started since finishing ninth in the Derby. Homeboykris also went to the sidelines following his 16th-place finish in the Derby and has had just one start on the comeback trail, a disappointing sixth-place effort under optional claiming conditions going six furlongs at Aqueduct on Dec. 19.
William’s Kitten makes his first start since finishing a troubled third here a year ago in the Grade 3 Holy Bull.
“He suffered a sesamoid injury in his first work after the Holy Bull,” trainer Mike Maker said. “It was a big disappointment, because we thought he could have been a Derby horse. He’s done great since getting back here, and we’re ready to go. A one-turn mile is not what he wants and it’s a very competitive race, but it’s time to get him started again.”
Maker also reported that Furthest Land, upset winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is ready to run again. Furthest Land is winless in four subsequent starts since the Breeders’ Cup, including the 2010 Dubai World Cup .
“When he came back from Dubai he was knocked out, so we sent him to the farm after one more start and now he’s back, doing well, and ready to run,” Maker said.
Carwood saddles pair of winners on card
Anybody who didn’t know who trainer Gerry Carwood was prior to Thursday’s program does now, after the Irish-born horsemen sent out a pair of winners, including Baltimore Bob in the featured eighth race.
“What a day,” Carwood said. “I don’t think I ever won two races on a card before. Doing it at this meet makes it extra special.”
Carwood, a former steeplechase jockey, served as an assistant for several horsemen after giving up his riding career. Most recently, he was an assitant to Eddie Kenneally before striking out on his own 18 months ago. He has seven horses in his barn, including Love in Bloom, the winner of Thursday’s opener, and Baltimore Bob.
“I spent last winter at Tampa but was struggling to get business and figured I might generate more and get better horses if I came here this year,” Carwood said. “Luckily, I got Baltimore Bob.”
Baltimore Bob is owned by his breeder, Carole Kaye, who sent the horse to Carwood on the advice of a mutual friend. Baltimore Bob had been competing exclusively against stakes company prior to dropping back into the allowance ranks and won under a rail-skimming ride by Julien Leparoux on Thursday.
“It was a tough race but a perfect spot for him, since he doesn’t have many allowance conditions,” Carwood said. “It might have been one of his best races ever.”
Unbridled Essence works for Sunshine Millions
A sudden downpour soaked the main track and kept workouts to a minimum here Friday morning but didn’t slow down trainer Rick Sacco who breezed seven horses, including his Sunshine Millions hopefuls Unbridled Essence and Feel the Fire.
Working over a sloppy track, Unbridled Essence went an easy five furlongs in 1:04.81 under jockey Paco Lopez, just cruising along early before completing her final furlong in 12 seconds. Feel the Fire worked a half-mile in 49.40 with Walter Blum Jr. up 10 minutes earlier.
Feel the Fire, an allowance winner earlier in the meet, is being pointed to the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, while Unbridled Essence, winner of the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park in September, will compete in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.
Rescind the Trade drills for Holy Bull
There was no such weather issues Friday morning at Palm Meadows, where Rescind the Trade and Tahitian Warrior were the most notable names on the work tab.
Rescind the Trade, perfect in two starts and a possible starter in next week’s Grade 3 Holy Bull, went five-eighths in 1:01.60. Tahitian Warrior, purchased privately by Godolphin Racing following a sensational debut win on opening day here last winter, worked the same distance in 1:01.70 in preparation for his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on Oct. 30.