Monday, February 3, 2014

Trainers Map Plans Following Hutcheson

by Jim Freer                                                                                           3-Feb-14

Several days before Wildcat Red ran in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes his trainer Jose Garoffalo said "I think this distance suits him best." On Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Wildcat Red lived up to his trainer’s confidence.

The son of former sprint star D’Wildcat took the lead coming out of the final turn and coasted to a 4-¾ length win over C. Zee in the Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-olds.

Now Garoffalo is ready to test Wildcat Red at longer distances, starting with the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at 1-1/16 miles at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.

Garoffalo mentioned that plan in the winner’s circle after the Hutcheson and reiterated it on Sunday.

"He ate up everything last night and came out of the stall this morning very nicely," Garoffako said. "It’s all good. We’re planning on the Fountain of Youth."

C. Zee also could be headed to the Fountain of youth, his trainer Stan Gold said on Sunday morning. Gold said the alternative would be the Swale (Grade 3) at seven furlongs at Gulfstream on March 1.

Wildcat Red’s longest race was the Gulfstream Park Derby, a one-turn mile, on Jan.1. C. Zee’s longest race was the Hutcheson.
Gold and Garoffalo are making plans that are common each February for trainers of talented sprinters.

 A trainer can give a horse a test at a longer distance, and if he does well keep putting him into stakes races that are preps for the Kentucky Derby. If a horse does not handle the stretch-out, the trainer can move him back to sprints--usually with a break of several months. In the Hutcheson, both horses showed they merit a shot at longer distances and glory.

Wildcat Red was the 2-1 favorite and C. Zee was the 6-1 fifth choice in the nine-horse field. Gambler’s Ghost led after a half mile in 44.87 seconds. Wildcat Red was second by a half length and C. Zee was another half length back In ton third place.

Wildcat Red then made his move on the outside and won with apparent ease under a hand ride by Javier Castellano.

C. Zee was among four horses battling for second place in mid-stretch. He edged ahead and beat Pablo Del Monte by a half length for second place.

Gambler’s Ghost faded to last, after not being able to match the pressure applied by Wildcat Red.

 "Actually, I was very impressed," Garoffalo said. "I was expecting a tough race, but he handled the group very easily. He impressed me how easy he did it."    

He said he was pleased that Wildcat Red appeared more relaxed than in previous races and that Castellano was able to keep him from an early lead.

"Jose’s horse has that burst, which our horse doesn’t have," Gold said. "Our horse has sustained speed. I think he can handle a longer distance and we might try the Fountain of Youth."

C. Zee’s grandsires are Elusive Quality and Distorted Humor. Both had their greatest racing success at a mile or shorter. Both also are sires and grandsires of numerous horses that have won stakes races at 1 1/16 miles or longer.

C. Zee has one win and three second place finishes in four career starts. Wildcat Red has three wins and two second place finishes in five starts.

The Fountain of Youth field will also probably include Top Billing, Commissioner, Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday.
As of Sunday, it appeared that three of the leading 3-year-olds stabled in South Florida will not run in the Fountain of Youth.

Cairo Prince, winner of the 1-1/16 mile Holy Bull, is healthy. But trainer Kiaran McLaughlin does not plan to race him again until the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby (Grade 1) on March 29.

Honor Code has ankle injuries and will probably not race again until the Florida Derby.

Havana is tentatively scheduled to make his first 2014 start in the Swale.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sprinters Take Spotlight at Gulfstream

by Jim Freer

Fans who like sprint stakes and large competitive fields will find that mix in Saturday’s two feature races at Gulfstream Park.

The 10th race is the $200,000 Hutcheson  Stakes (Grade 2) at seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-olds, with Wildcat Red in the center of attention.

The ninth race is the $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint at five furlongs for 4-year-olds and up.

Because of rain, Gulfstream was not able to hold any races on turf on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The dirt track was listed as sloppy each day.

On Saturday morning, Gulfstream officials will decide whether to move the turf sprint stakes to dirt.

Following a dry Friday night and with sun in the Saturday forecast, it is likely that the race will stay on turf - probably listed as good rather than firm.

Last year's winner Varsity, Tightend Touchdown and Berlino Di Tiger head an 11-horse field.

In the Hutcheson, Wildcat Red is the 5-2 morning line favorite in a 10-horse field. Mighty Brown and C. Zee also should attract strong betting interest based on their recent form in stakes races.

Trainer Jose Garoffalo had planned to run Wildcat Red in the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull (Grade 2) at Gulfstream on Jan.25,

But he held Wildcat Red out of that race because of a cold, from which the colt has recovered.

Wildcat Red has finished first in three of his four starts.

On Jan, 1 in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby he lost by a head to General a Rod after a lengthy stretch duel.

Wildcat Red, a son of D'wildcat, has shown speed in each of his starts.

On Saturday he could face early challenges from Mighty Brown, Gambler's Ghost and Tashir.

The 2013 Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano will ride Wildcat Red for the first time in a race.

Mighty Brown, trained by Tim Ice, won the seven furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Down on Jan. 4. He will be making his Gulfstream debut with Alan Garcia as his rider..

C. Zee, trained by Stanley Gold, finished second in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 4. Edgard Zayas has the return mount.

The Hutcheson also has Trail Blaze, the fourth place finisher in the Spectacular Bid, and Pablo Del Monte, the fourth place finisher in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

Trail Blaze was the 6-5 favorite in the Spectacular Bid, six weeks after an impressive maiden win at Aqueduct on Nov, 20. But he started slowly, under Jose Lezcano, and was never in contention.

Last Sunday, Trail Blaze had a bullet five-furlong workout at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has Joel Rosario riding in the Hutcheson.

Tashir and Gambler’s Ghost are coming if front-running victories in fast times.

Tashir won a seven-furlong allowance by 9 ½ lengths at Calder on Jan. 17. Gambler's Ghost won a six-furlong maiden race by five lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 1.

Scheduled post time for the Hutcheson is 5:03 p.m.

By then the track probably will have dried out, but might still be listed as good.

Long on Value and Tashir are the only horses in the Hutcheson with wins on tracks not listed as fast.

Long on Value won his first three races last summer, followed by a pair of sixth place finishes in Grade 1 stakes at tracks in New York--most recently the Champagne at Belmont Park on Oct. 5.

Trainer Bill Mott has John Velazquez riding Long on Value, a colt ending his four-month layoff in a race against several horses that have run in stakes this year.

Prediction: Wildcat Red, C. Zee, Trail Blaze, Gambler's Ghost