Undefeated Colt Takes First Step on Road to G1 Florida Derby
Undefeated Dak Attack is scheduled to make a highly anticipated return to action in Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man, the first stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds on Gulfstream Park’s Road to the March 31 Florida Derby (G1).
Trained by Dale Romans for Albaugh Family Stable and Brereton Jones, the son of Ghostzapper hasn’t raced since Aug. 20 after impressively winning the first two starts of his career.
“He had a little shin issue,” Romans said. “We had to back off with him, but he’s back at the top of his game now.”
Dak Attack, a $625,000 yearling purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, debuted at Churchill Downs June 15 with a sharp 1 ¼-length victory at 5 ½ furlongs that became all the noteworthy when runner-up Sporting Chance went on to break his maiden and win the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. Dak Attack came back to capture the seven-furlong Ellis Park Juvenile by three lengths Aug. 20 before going to the sidelines.
“They paid more than $600,000 for him, so he’s always had big hype,” Romans said. “He’s always been the perfect horse. He does everything right; he’s smart; good physically, He’s got good pedigree; he has the whole package.”
Jockey Robby Albarado has the return mount for the one-turn mile stakes.
“It’s a good start back for him,” Romans said. “He hasn’t gone farther than six furlongs yet, so it’s a good race to get him started.”
Cairoli Racing Stable’s Santiamen is also scheduled to seek his third victory without a loss in the Mucho Macho Man. Trained by Antonio Sano, who also entered Forever Taken, the 3-year-old colt will be making his first start beyond six furlongs after rallying from off the pace in his first two starts.
By Dialed In, the sire of Sano-trained Pegasus World Cup Invitational contender Gunnevera, Santiamen graduated ‘handily’ by 6 ¾ lengths at 5 ½ furlongs in his debut at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 24. The Florida-bred colt came back to win a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Dec. 21 at Gulfstream Park, rallying from fifth to score by a half-length.
“In his last race he threw a shoe,” Sano said. “He’s been training very good and I think the distance is going to be good for my horse.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to ride Santiamen for the first time.
Secure Investments’ Forever Taken, who is scheduled to be ridden by Jesus Rios, finished fourth after a rougt start last time out in the Smooth Air, a one-turn mile stakes at Gulfstream Dec. 9.
“He ran a good race in his last race. I think the distance will be good for him,” Sano said.
Red Oak Stable’s Bal Harbour and Black Cloud Stable’s Whereshetoldmetogo, who finished 1-2, respectively, in the Smooth Air, are slated for a return in the Mucho Macho Man.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bal Harbour came off a three-month layoff following a victory in the Sapling at Monmouth, to overcome bumping at the start to catch Whereshetoldmetogo by a neck.
John Velazquez has been named to ride the son of First Samurai.
Pletcher also entered Coltandmississippi, who finished fifth in the Smooth Air after capturing an optional claiming allowance by six lengths at Gulfstream Park West. Luis Saez has the mount.
Anthony Pecoraro-trained Whereshetoldmetogo won the First State Dash at Delaware Park in September. Tyler Gaffalione has the return mount.
Lane’s End Racing’s Mask, an impressive debut winner at Belmont Oct. 20, is set for a return in the Mucho Macho Man. In his first race the Chad Brown-trained son of Tapit scored by three lengths his 6 ½-furlong debut over the Pletcher-trained Navistar, who came back to break his maiden at Gulfstream Park in December.
Javier Castellano has the return mount aboard the $685,000 yearling purchase.
Baru, Inc.’s Handsome Franco, a graded-stakes winner in Puerto Rico who finished off the board in the Smooth Air, rounds out the field. Trainer Alexis Cordero-Lopez named Juan Diaz to ride the son of Curlin.
Malibu Saint Targets Second Straight Stakes Win in $100,000 Ginger Brew
John Oxley’s Flameaway, a multiple stakes winner on the dirt, will attempt to transfer that form to the grass in Saturday’s $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The sixth running of the Kitten’s Joy for 3-year-olds and the seventh renewal of the $100,000 Ginger Brew for 3-year-old fillies, both at 7 ½ furlongs on turf, are among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on the 11-race program.
They are joined by the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man for 3-year-olds going one mile and a pair of six-furlong sprint stakes for non-winners of a sweepstakes – the $75,000 Limehouse for 3-year-olds and the $75,000 Glitter Woman for 3-year-old fillies.
First race post time is noon.
An Ontario-bred son of Scat Daddy trained by Canadian Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Flameaway won three of five races at 2 including the 5 ½-furlong Skidmore Stakes in August at Saratoga and the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G3) in October at Keeneland – both originally carded for the grass.
Flameaway made his turf debut last out in the one-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) Nov. 3 at Del Mar, pressing the pace for a half-mile before weakening to eighth, beaten just 3 ¼ lengths at odds of 23-1.
“It’s been crazy. We’ve tried to get him in on the grass and never could do it and we finally got him in for the Breeders’ Cup,” Casse said, “and I thought he ran very respectable. I thought it was a good race for him. He’s a nice horse, so I would think he would run well.
“He’s showed good speed,” he added. “He was on the lead in the Breeders’ Cup or right there so I would expect him to employ a similar position. He’s a pretty versatile horse, so I don’t think the cutback in distance will matter.”
The Kitten’s Joy will be the fifth straight stakes try and sixth race at six different racetracks for Flameaway, who debuted with a victory over Woodbine’s synthetic surface last May and also finished sixth in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs.
“I think experience is a big thing,” Casse said. “I love getting as much experience in my young horses as I can. It’s definitely a plus. He’s got a lot of experience, so we’ll see.”
Julien Leparoux is named to ride from Post 1 of eight at co-topweight of 120 pounds.
Other stakes winners in the Kitten’s Joy are Speed Franco, who romped by six lengths at odds of 13-1 in the one-mile Pulpit Dec. 9 at Gulfstream; Nauti Buoy, a gutsy nose winner of the one-mile Juvenile Turf at Gulfstream Park West two starts back; and Renaissance Frolic, who captured an off-the-turf edition of the one-mile Armed Forces Sept. 30 at Gulfstream.
Stonestreet Stables homebred Power of Attorney steps up to stakes company in the Kitten’s Joy off a front-running two-length triumph in a one-mile maiden special weight over the new Aqueduct turf course Nov. 30.
It was the second start for the dark bay or brown Distorted Humor colt after finishing a distant eighth behind well-regarded Montauk in his Oct. 7 debut at Belmont Park.
“He was a handful his first start. He was a real handful in the paddock and going to the gate but we got there and broke on top or near the lead and was on the lead for the first half a mile in a very, very tough race,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We came back and schooled him a lot and worked with him and he was much better second time out. We got to the gate in good shape and he behaved better and won. He’s one-for-one on the turf. We decided to run here, he’s doing well and hopefully he behaves better.”
Power of Attorney shows back-to-back sharp works over the turf course at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, including a bullet half-mile in 49.30 seconds Dec. 30.
“When he ran poorly first time out we thought he has some pedigree for turf so we thought turf was worth trying and he won well. He’s turf for now,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a nice horse, trains well, beautiful colt. He just needs to behave himself. We’ve done a few things different with him so hopefully he’ll behave well.”
Fast Boat and Todd Pletcher-trained stablemates Mojovation and Pony Up round out the field.
Malibu Saint Targets Second Straight Stakes Win in $100,000 Ginger Brew
Treadway Racing Stable’s Malibu Saint, four weeks after her come-from-behind half-length triumph in the Wait a While at Gulfstream, seeks her second straight stakes victory in the $100,000 Ginger Brew.
Trained by Mike Maker, who already owns four stakes wins at the Championship Meet, Malibu Saint sprung 16-1 upset of the one-mile Wait a While despite encountering some trouble when bumped sideways by Golden Orb in deep stretch.
It marked the stakes debut for Malibu Saint, a chestnut daughter of Malibu Moon that won two of five starts at 2 with one second and one third. She was beaten a neck in a one-mile allowance Oct. 22 at Keeneland by Thewayiam, who also returns in the Ginger Brew along with Golden Orb.
“She’s coming off the win in the stakes last time where she had some trouble but was able to overcome that and run well. She’s one that’s improving every start and we’re pleased with that,” Maker said. “Every race she continues to get better. She was unlucky to lose at Keeneland that day. We’ve had her in a couple times but the races came off the turf so we decided to run her in the stake and she got the job done at a big price.”
Luis Saez, aboard for the first time in the Wait a While, gets a return call from Post 6 of 10 at topweight of 120 pounds.
Among the horses making their stakes debut is Calumet Farm’s Irish homebred Closer Still, who exits a 2 ¼-length optional claiming allowance victory Dec. 8. The Ginger Brew will be the So You Think filly’s first try on turf after making her first four starts over Woodbine’s synthetic main track.
“She likes the synthetic and with her pedigree we sure think she should like the grass. Of course you never know until you try, but she’s training very well,” Casse said. “She’s done all she can do up to now, and we’re just trying to kind of figure out where she belongs. We know that on the Tapeta that she can compete with better horses. Training horses is like putting a puzzle together. You’re always trying different pieces. That’s what we’re doing. We’re going to try a different piece and see how it fits.”
Closer Still went the distance up front to win last out and has raced on or near the lead in each of her last three starts, and Casse doesn’t expect anything different in the Ginger Brew.
“She’s just fast,” he said. “I don’t know that she has to be on the lead. I would think that she’s going to be fairly close, though. She’s a fast horse.”
Jose Lezcano rides Closer Still from Post 3 at 116 pounds.
Also entered are Andina Del Sur, Crazy for Sofia, Delamar, Designing, Queen Rose and Tropical Wave.