By Jim Freer
All thoroughbreds that were born in North America in 2013 became 3-year-olds for racing purposes yesterday, Jan. 1.
Some of the East Coast’s most promising members of that class will run this afternoon at Gulfstream Park, which will have five stakes races for newly-turned 3-year-olds. They are part of an 11-race card with first post at 12:05 p.m.
All of the day’s Gulfstream races are for 3-year-olds. The first, sixth, ninth and eleventh races are maiden special weights–all with some high-priced horses that could move up to stakes during the Gufstream championship meet that will end on April 2.
Tampa Bay Downs will have ten races today with first post at 12:28 p.m.
There are no stakes races today at the Oldsmar track. It will have three stakes races next Saturday, Jan. 9.
We will be at Gulfstream this afternoon and will monitor Tampa Bay, with reports on both tracks on our blog.
Today’s Gulfstream stakes, all with $100,000 purses, are:
* Third race,1:05 p.m.–Hutcheson (Grade 3) at 6 furlongs on dirt.
Full Salute has won stakes races at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Parx Racing in Philadelphia and at the Gulfstream Park West meet held at Calder.
He likely will be stalking the leaders and has good prospects in a race with several speed horses.
Edgard Zayas will ride Full Salute for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and owner Morris Bailey.
Sheikh of Sheikhs, who has the outside seven post, is the speedster with the strongest credentials. On Oct. 31 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., he won the six-furlong Juvenile Dirt Sprint.
Joel Rosario will ride Sheikh of Sheikhs for trainer Wesley Ward.
* Fourth race,1:35 p.m.–Old Hat (Grade 3) at 6 furlongs on dirt for fillies
Ballet Diva is the likely favorite in the six-horse field.
She won two stakes at Gulfstream this year and on Nov. 28 won the six-furlong House Party at the Gulfstream Park West meet held at Calder.
Regular rider Jose Caraballo has the mount on Ballet Diva, from the barn of trainer Stan Gold and owner Jacks or Better Farm.
Ballet Diva has the rail post, and could be hard to catch if she gets a clean break.
The Old Hat has several other horses with early speed.
If a duel develops up front, the stalker Catira Rock could be a threat to Ballet Diva in the stretch. Catira Rock is trained by Antonio Sano and will be ridden by Edgard Zayas.
* Fifth race, 2:05 p.m.–Ginger Brew at 7 ½ furlongs on dirt for fillies
Lira has won both her starts and is the likely favorite.
Her second win was on Nov. 28 in the Wait a While Stakes at one mile on turf at Gulfstream Park West (Calder).
Lira is trained by Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
The field also has stakes winners Pancake and Andreya’s Warrior.
* Seventh race. 3:05 p.m.–Dania Beach (Grade 3) at 7 ½ furlongs on turf
The field is headed by Isotherm and Mountain Music Man, each a turf stakes winner at Belmont Park this fall. We will have a preview of the race this afternoon on our blog.
* Tenth race, 4:35 p.m.–Mucho Macho Man, one mile on dirt
Fellowship is a late-runner who appears better suited to today’s distance than most of the others in the race.
On Oct. 3 at Gulfstream he was an impressive come-from-behind winner of the 1 1/16 mile in Reality.
Fellowship is from the Gold-Jacks or Better barn, and the colt’s regular jockey Caraballo has the mount.
The most dangerous of several speed horses could be Awesome Speed, the winner of the six-furlong James F. Lewis Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland on Nov. 14. John Velazquez will ride Awesome Speed for trainer Alan Goldberg.
Although the Mucho Macho Man does not have graded status, it is regarded as the first Gulfstream prep race for the Florida Derby (Grade 1) on April 2.
Our picks to win:
* Hutcheson — Full Salute
* Old Hat — Ballet Diva
* Ginger Brew — Andreya’s Reward
* Dania Beach — Isotherm
* Mucho Macho Man — Fellowship
Saturday Racing: Five Stakes for 3-YOs at Gulfstream; Ten Races at Tampa Bay