Archive for December 2013

Star Harbour wires Sunshine State Stakes

Star Harbour showed his heels to the cream of the locally based sprint division when leading throughout to register a half-length decision over Jackson Bend in Sunday’s $100,000 Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Defending champion Bahamian
Squall finished a tiring third.

Original Article from Daily Racing Form

Star Harbour and jockey Paco Lopez win the Sunshine State Stakes by a half-length Sunday.Star Harbour was haltered for $35,000 this summer at Saratoga by trainer Bob Dibona for the Marco Thoroughbred Corp. Dibona had to win a five-way shake to get Star Harbour, who won that afternoon by a dozen lengths and finished third six weeks later in Belmont Park’s Duck Dance overnight stakes.

Star Harbour turned in a sharp 58.22-second, five-furlong workout here Nov. 30 in preparation for the Sunshine State, a Florida-bred stakes Dibona said he’s been pointing for since his arrival here last month.

With leading rider Paco Lopez aboard, Star Harbour sprinted to the lead, as expected, while joined early by longshot Cat Five Hurricane. Star Harbour easily disposed of Cat Five Hurricane after a half-mile, settled into the stretch with a clear advantage, then held sway despite tiring some near the end.

Jackson Bend, a two-time Grade 1 winner, raced wide and rallied mildly to out finish Bahamian Squall for second. The latter, making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, broke a bit flatfooted, moved into close contention on the final turn, but was unable to kick on through the stretch.

Cat Five Hurricane took a bad step while retreating on the turn, pulled up, and was vanned off after the race.

Star Harbour, a 5-year-old son of Indian Charlie, completed seven furlongs over a very fast track in 1:21.55 and paid $5.20.

“It’s very exciting to claim a horse and be able to run at this kind of level,” Dibona said. “You can pay a million dollars and not get a horse like this. He’s happy, he likes it here, he’s fast, and they’re going to have to deal with him.”

Dibona said Star Harbour would make his next start in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 18. Star Harbour finished a tiring fifth as the favorite in the 2012 Sunshine Millions Sprint.

Ribo Bobo dominates Claiming Crown Express

Trainer Jason Servis admitted that he was a little anxious prior to Saturday’s $110,000 Claiming Crown Express despite the fact that he was running the odds-on favorite, Ribo Bobo, in the six-furlong dash at Gulfstream Park.

Original Article from Daily Racing Form

Ribo Bobo, ridden by Paco Lopez, wins the Claiming Crown Express for his 10th victory from 11 starts this year.But Servis had few anxious moments once the gates opened, as Ribo Bobo just toyed with his 11 overmatched rivals en route to a 2 1/2-length victory over the slow-breaking, late-running Never Stop Looking.

Ribo Bobo won his first nine starts of 2013 before finally being defeated just 10 days ago in Penn National’s Fabulous Strike Handicap by the graded stakes winner Ben’s Cat. Claimed on two separate occasions earlier in the year by Servis for the Mr. Amore Stable, Ribo Bobo has steadily improved as the season progressed, punctuating a series of easy victories with a 5 3/4-length triumph in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap.

With jockey Paco Lopez aboard, Ribo Bobo broke a step slowly Saturday but quickly used his abundant speed to control the pace while racing along the rail. He shook off early pursuers Bear’s Spirit and J B’s Unc approaching the quarter pole, bore out a bit
turning for home, and won as his rider pleased, with Lopez looking around for competition through the stretch while gearing down his mount in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Never Stop Looking stumbled at the break, then steadily worked his way forward to finish second, a half-length in front of J B’s Unc. Ribo Bobo completed the distance in 1:10.02 and paid $3.

“I’ve run a lot of horses in big races, but I was nervous before the race because this horse is pretty special,” Servis said. “But I felt good after he got on the lead. I don’t know why he got out like that into the stretch. He did it in Maryland but not at Penn National. I don’t know if he gets to loafing. Paco said he jumped something, but to me, that’s not a bad thing because it means he’s just playing around.”

Servis said he’ll likely consider the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 18 for Ribo Bobo’s next start.

Carolina Lizard wins Iron Lady

Carolina Lizard set a contested pace, then dug in gamely to outfinish Courtney Ryan and Daddys Jewel and upset the $110,000 Claiming Crown Iron Lady. Winiliscious, the 4-5 favorite, finished a disappointing sixth after forcing the pace to the stretch.

Carolina Lizard, who won a starter allowance race in similar fashion over Courtney Ryan last month at Calder, paid $71.80. She was ridden by Pedro Monterrey Jr. for trainer Robert Posada.

“My filly was doing great, and I thought she had a good chance today,” Posada said.

Wolfson exacta in Glass Slipper

Trainer Marty Wolfson dominated the $110,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper, sending out Centrique to defeat stablemate Lexington Pearl by 1 1/4 lengths, with the rest of the field far behind. The two horses raced uncoupled in the wagering, although both are owned by Miller Racing LLC.

Centrique, a 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, covered seven furlongs in 1:22.21 under jockey Javier Castellano and paid $3.80.

“My fillies are kind of equal, but Centrique is just quicker,” Wolfson said.

Plesa, Lopez start meet strongly

Trainer Eddie Plesa saddled four winners during the first two days of Gulfstream Park's winter meet.Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and jockey Paco Lopez had themselves a very good summer on the New Jersey Shore. They are also enjoying themselves quite a bit since getting down to south Florida and settling in for the winter at Gulfstream Park.

Original Article from Daily Racing Form

Plesa sent out four winners, two apiece on Saturday and Sunday and all with Lopez aboard, to take a quick lead in the trainer standings. Lopez did even better, posting seven victories on opening weekend.

“Just one of those things when you are on a good streak and things are clicking,” said Plesa.

Plesa moved his entire base of operations to Palm Meadows for the first time this winter, although he was a bit hesitant to say his new surroundings are directly responsible for the hot streak his barn has been on for the better part of the past month.

“I don’t want to say yes and I don’t want to say no,” said Plesa. “Palm Meadows is an outstanding facility and I can tell the horses really enjoy being up there. How much it would make a difference, I really don’t know.”

Plesa is also under no delusion that he might unseat perennial leading trainer Todd Pletcher atop the standings this winter, despite the red-hot beginning.

“I don’t really have any aspirations of being leading trainer here,” said Plesa with a smile. “At Monmouth, maybe, but not here.”
Among Plesa’s four winners last weekend was the well-bred 2-year-old filly Coral Way, who won her maiden impressively at second asking on Saturday. Coral Way is a daughter of Smoke Glacken and is owned by Besilu Stables.

“She’s a nice filly,” said Plesa. “She finished third to Puddifoot, who I think is as good a filly as I’ve had in a long time. At the moment this filly is about a half a notch below her and really showed what she could do on Saturday.”

Plesa also said that Florida Derby and Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday continues to progress nicely at Palm Meadows and if all goes well could have his first breeze before the end of the month.

Jewel attracts 10 runners

Saturday will be a busy day on the local front. Not only will Gulfstream present eight Claiming Crown races with a total value of $1 million, but crosstown rival Calder also offers three stakes, including the Grade 3 Tropical Turf and Grade 3 My Charmer handicaps.

The Claiming Crown is anchored by the $200,000 Jewel, to be run at 1 1/8 miles for horses which have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2012. The Jewel drew a field of 10, including Bernie the Maestro, winner of the seven-furlong Rapid Transit on last year’s Claiming Crown card.

Rose to Gold tries turf

Rose to Gold, one of the top 3-year-old fillies in the country earlier this season, will launch her comeback against older horses while also making her turf debut in the My Charmer. Rose to Gold has not started since finishing eighth behind division leaders Princess of Sylmar and Beholder in the Kentucky Oaks.

The My Charmer drew a full field of 12, led by graded stakes winners Naples Bay, Strathnaver, and Somali Lemonade, along with locals Angelica Zapatica and Parranda.

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