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