03/01/2010 12:00AM

Stakes horses dot the Gulfstream card


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While the current group of up-and-coming 3-year-old prospects garner most of the attention here this winter, a number of key players from last year's crop will try to recapture past glories when they compete in one of two optional claimers Wednesday at Gulfstream Park.

The $51,000 eighth race, at seven furlongs, brings together Just a Coincidence, who finished third in the 2009 Grade 1 Wood Memorial; Imperial Council and Brave Victory, second and third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan; and the graded-stakes-placed Checklist and Royal Vindication.

The $53,000 third race, at a mile, brings together Hold Me Back and Our Edge for the first time since the 2009 Travers.

Imperial Council finished third behind Warrior's Reward three weeks earlier in a race similar to Wednesday's eighth. The outing was the first for Imperial Council since he finished eighth nearly nine months earlier in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

"He had some trouble after breaking from the rail last time, but once he got out I felt he finished up good," said Imperial Council's trainer, Shug McGaughey. "He's got an outside post Wednesday."

Despite Imperial Council's second-place finish in the nine-furlong Peter Pan at 3, McGaughey believes his horse might be better sprinting.

Just a Coincidence finished five lengths in front of Imperial Council in the Wood but has also been lightly raced since. Just a Coincidence finished seventh after contesting a fast pace going a mile here Jan. 24 and will be equipped with blinkers by trainer Nick Zito for Wednesday's appearance.

Royal Vindication, who won an overnight stakes and finished third in the Grade 3 Nashua at 2, was beaten less than a length by Warrior's Reward while more than a length clear of Imperial Council. That was Royal Vindication's his first start in six months and first for trainer Bruce Brown.

In the third race, Hold Me Back makes his first start since finishing sixth behind Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Furthest Land in Turfway's Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic on Sept. 26. Hold Me Back finished 12th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and second last summer in the Travers.

Our Edge, winner of the Grade 3 Barbaro at 3, was eased after contesting the pace over a sloppy track in the Travers and will add blinkers off a disappointing 2010 debut.