12/04/2014 2:34PM

Ribo Bobo favored to repeat in Claiming Crown Express

Coglianese Photos
Ribo Bobo won last year's Claiming Crown Express by 2 1/2 lengths.

Most of the 2014 Claiming Crown races at Gulfstream Park lack what might be called “name” horses, but not the $110,000 Express, which once again has a tried-and-true stakes performer in Ribo Bobo.

A convincing winner of the six-furlong Express last December at Gulfstream as a 1-2 favorite, Ribo Bobo doesn’t figure to be quite so heavily favored this time around, but the 6-year-old gelding clearly is the horse to beat Saturday, even after finishing 30 lengths back in his most recent start, the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park in late September.

“He pulled a gluteal muscle in that race, and he was pretty sore in behind,” trainer Jason Servis told Gulfstream publicity this week. “It took him a while to get over it, and I don’t want to jinx myself, but he’s doing great. I’m careful where I spot him and make sure he has plenty of time.”

:: CLAIMING CROWN: Get PPs, watch Saturday's Gulfstream Park card live

Ribo Bobo, with Paco Lopez to ride, will break from post 3 in a field of 10 in the Express, which is governed by a $7,500 starter condition dating to Jan. 1, 2013. Ribo Bobo, a winner of five stakes and more than $800,000, twice raced for a $6,250 claiming tag in early 2013.

Blings Express and Loverbil look like the chief threats to a Ribo Bobo repeat.

:: DRF Live: Get real-time updates and insights from DRF reporters and handicappers on Saturday

A couple of hours later, horses qualifying under a $16,000 starter condition will clash in a terrific renewal of the $110,000 Rapid Transit at seven furlongs. Goodtimehadbyall and Stallwalkin’ Dude are among the favorites in an extremely well-matched field of 14.

Express, race 4


Ribo Bobo (Last 3 Beyers: 27-89-94)

◗ Servis shows outstanding numbers in the relevant categories (layoffs, dirt races, sprints) and insists that he has this horse ready. That should be enough said.

Frontier Warrior (Last 3 Beyers: 90-89-95)

◗ Brings a five-race win streak into this while still ascending the claiming ladder and making his first start for Peter Walder, a perennial south Florida favorite with exceptional numbers in the categories that apply here.

Blings Express (Last 3 Beyers: 85-94-88)

◗ Consistent gray gelding has been just terrific in compiling high Beyers while remaining within a comfortable niche for Marcus Vitali, who has enjoyed by far the best year of his training career with more than $2 million in stable earnings.

Loverbil (Last 3 Beyers: 89-88-77)

◗ Gets top-class jockey Jose Lezcano after having really stepped up his game under the care of Jorge Navarro, who sports gaudy percentages (34 and up) in situations that apply here.

Disarm (Last 3 Beyers: 92-90-85)

◗ His performances on this side of the Mississippi have all been commendable, and he figures to get a nice stalk-and-see trip from the outside for underrated connections.

Rapid Transit, race 8


Goodtimehadbyall (Last 3 Beyers: 88-89-86)

◗ Navarro really seems to have tightened the screws on a capable closer who makes a noteworthy turnback from slightly longer races. The layoff followed by a stellar series of workouts at Gulfstream Park West show clear trainer intent.

Stallwalkin’ Dude (Last 3 Beyers: 100-90-92)

◗ As often happens when David Jacobson gets his hands on one, it has been onward and upward for a resurgent Florida-bred who so far has been the star of the trainer’s small southern string. The triple-digit Beyer from his latest obviously stands out.

Monty Haul (Last 3 Beyers: 95-86-95)

◗ Cleverly named Florida-bred surely will be among the forward flight, as he tends to show heels even in shorter races. It has been another productive year for Phil Aristone, a longtime Parx stalwart who clearly has been pointing this gelding to the Claiming Crown after claiming him for $40,000 on Labor Day.

Grande Shores (Last 3 Beyers: 87-95-93)

◗ Runner-up effort in the open Kenny Noe Stakes followed seven straight races in which this Jacks or Better homebred earned a 90-plus Beyer, so clearly he matches up here, style-wise, figures-wise, and otherwise.

Behemoth (Last 3 Beyers: 89-87-77)

◗ Leading stable on the Maryland circuit is here to take a couple of Claiming Crown shots, including one with this stakes-seasoned 5-year-old. His last two going a flat mile at Laurel should set him up for a sneaky closing effort here, especially in case of a scorching pace.