Archive for March 2020

Highland Glory Nips Cheermeister in Sanibel Island

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Steadfast Stable’s Highland Glory needed every inch of the Gulfstream Park stretch on Saturday, rallying late to nip Cheermeister and win the $100,000 Sanibel Island Stakes Presented by US Foods.

Breaking from post 11 under Paco Lopez at 7/2 odds, Highland Glory settled comfortably into mid-pack as she passed the empty grandstands for the first time. Up front, the speedy Cheermeister held a lengthy advantage while posting opening fractions of :23.46, :47.35, and 1:10.70.

After inching forward through the far turn, Highland Glory turned for home with a clear path and her eyes set on the pacesetter. Rallying toward the front alongside She’s My Type, Highland Glory drifted in slightly but still met Cheermeister’s throat latch in the shadow of the wire.

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Surging ahead in the final jump, the Barclay Tagg trainee crossed a neck clear in a final time of 1:34.42 for the mile-long event over the firm turf course.

Cheermeister held off She’s My Type by a 1/2-length to secure second. Stunny Sky was 3/4 of a length back in fourth, while Walk In Marrakesh necked out How Ironic for fifth.

Lucky Polly, Heir of Light, Seducer, Fujairah, and Onyx completed the order of finish. Lady Panda was scratched, as was Duchess of Sussex, who failed to draw in from the Also Eligibles list.

Highland Glory’s win was her second straight, having broken her maiden here on January 19 while making her first appearance on turf. The 3-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa improved her record to 4-2-1-0 with $106,580 earned.

Highland Glory returned $9.80 to win, $5.60 to place, and $4.20 to show. Cheermeister brought back $6.80 to place and $4.80 to show, while She’s My Type paid $5.20 to show.

Swiss Skydiver breaks fast, cruises to Gulfstream Park Oaks win

Trainer Ken McPeek put jockey Paco Lopez on Swiss Skydiver for Saturday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks because he wanted the filly to be put into the race earlier than she was in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra last month at Fair Grounds.

Lopez got Swiss Skydiver to the front into the first turn, was able to get away with a soft, uncontested early pace, and then drew away from a stalking Lucrezia to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks by 3 1/4 lengths. Lucrezia held second by a nose over Lake Avenue.

It was a half-length back to Bajan Girl, who was followed, in order, by Spice Is Nice, Dream Marie, Tonalist’s Shape, Spartanka, Mrs. S, Inveterate, Sunset Promise, and Addilyn.

The win was the second from five starts for Swiss Skydiver, a daughter of Daredevil owned by Peter Callahan.

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McPeek expressed confidence in Swiss Skydiver this week because he knew she’d appreciate two turns. She had only one previous two-turn start, that a third behind Finite and British Idiom in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds.

“She just kept coming around, we finally got a series of two-turn races under her belt, which she’s needed really bad,” McPeek said by phone from Kentucky where he watched the race on television from what he called his “Grade 2 couch.”

“She showed a lot of talent from the beginning,” McPeek added.

The break was key to Swiss Skydiver who got to the front under Lopez with an opening quarter in 24.33 seconds. She maintained a one-length advantage over Lucrezia through a half-mile in 49.12. Lucrezia, under Julien Leparoux, made a run at Swiss Skydiver around the far turn, but Swiss Skydiver had plenty left with which to finish and drew away in the final eighth of a mile.

“She needed to jump a little quicker,” McPeek said. “My assistant [Greg Geier] and I talked about popping her out of the gate. She tended to lag behind a little bit in some of the sprint races. Paco, he’s what I call a lean-forward type of jock. When they load the gate, he doesn’t hesitate. He did a great job today, breaking her out of there and put her in a position where he could steal it.”

Swiss Skydiver covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.54 and returned $20.20 to win.

Tonalist’s Shape, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., suffered her first defeat after winning her first five career starts. She was wide entering the first turn but was pretty much out of run by the quarter pole and ended up seventh, beaten 11 3/4 lengths.

Spice Is Nice, second to Tonalist’s Shape in the Grade 2 Davona Dale, was in tight quarters entering the first turn, tried to make a run around the turn, but flattened out in upper stretch, beaten 10 lengths.

Swiss Skydiver earned 100 qualifying points toward the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks.

McPeek said since his filly has run at Tampa, Fair Grounds, and Gulfstream Park already this winter, she will likely benefit from a little break before gearing up for the summer.

“I think September will be ideal,” McPeek said.

Swiss Skydiver Lands a Victory in Gulfstream Park Oaks

After shipping from Florida to Louisiana in search of a race that suited her talents, Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver stayed in the Sunshine State March 28 and wound up earning a trip to Kentucky five months from now.

Benefitting from a savvy ride by Paco Lopez, the daughter of Daredevil darted to the early lead and registered a frontrunning 3 1/4-length victory in the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies on the Curlin Florida Derby (G1) undercard at a spectator-less Gulfstream Park.

“We’ve always expected this out of her,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “There’s a big future for her.”

Finding a two-turn spot for Swiss Skydiver has been McPeek’s objective for quite a while, which led to shipping her to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for the Feb. 15 Rachel Alexandra Stakes Presented by Fasig-Tipton (G2), where she ran into a buzzsaw named Finite in the 1 1/16-mile stakes, along with champion British Idiom, who ran second. She finished third to that pair, 6 1/2 lengths behind.

Rather than keep her in Louisiana, McPeek opted to ship her back to Florida with the goal of the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks, the track’s first graded dirt stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a two-turn distance.

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“The program at Gulfstream is a bit awkward for 3-year-old fillies in that this is their first stakes for 3-year-old fillies at two turns. The others were seven-eighths or a one-turn mile,” McPeek said by phone from his home in Louisville. “I think she’s been begging for two turns. Her race at Fair Grounds was respectable and I told the owner, Peter Callahan, ‘I think she’s going to be tough to beat here. They better have their running shoes on because this is as good as she can get.'”

By virtue of Saturday’s victory, her second in five starts, Swiss Skydiver picked up 100 qualifying points toward the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and assured herself of a spot in the 1 1/8-mile stakes, but that will not matter until Sept. 4 because of the new date for the May classic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So for now, McPeek will likely send the filly to his Summerfield Training Center in Marion County, Fla., until the racing landscape comes into a brighter focus.

“I think you have to sit back and take your time. We’re all in the same boat. We have to let this national crisis sort itself out and let racing get back to itself,” McPeek said. “She’s probably going to Summerfield where she spent part of the winter.”

Out of the Johannesburg mare Expo Gold, Swiss Skydiver is the first graded stakes winner for her dam and one of two of Expo Gold’s four foals to race to earn black type. McPeek bought Swiss Skydiver for $35,000 from the Select Sales consignment at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

After racing in mid-pack early in the three losses that followed a debut win at Churchill Downs, Swiss Skydiver was pushed to the lead at the break from post 6 in a field of 12 and was ahead by a clear margin before hitting the backstretch. She then cruised along through soft fractions of :49.12 and 1:13.30.

“Paco did a great job of placing her forward,” McPeek said. “That was the bad thing before. She layed back in some races and got in trouble and today she made a nice run to the first turn to get clear.”

Approaching the quarter pole, Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s Lucrezia and Godolphin’s Demoiselle Stakes (G2) winner Lake Avenue took a run at the leader, but Swiss Skydiver fended off those bids and drew away to cover the distance in 1:43.54.
Sent off at 9-1, she paid $20.20 to win.

Lucrezia, a daughter of Into Mischief trained by Arnaud Delacour, took second by a nose over Lake Avenue, a Tapit homebred trained by Bill Mott. They received 40 and 20 qualifying points, respectively, toward a berth in the Kentucky Oaks.

Robert Slack and Daniel Walters’ Bajan Girl, who was sent off at 105-1, was fourth. The daughter of Speightstown trained by Rohan Crichton netted 10 points.

Spice Is Nice, the 2-1 second choice, was fifth.

Favored Tonalist’s Shape never fired at 9-5 odds and wound up seventh in suffering her first loss in six career starts.

Hear My Prayer Among Seven Gulfstream Winners for Lopez

On March 21 when most of the racing news took place at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) day, Paco Lopez grabbed headlines at Gulfstream Park, riding a record-equaling seven winners, including Hear My Prayer in the $75,000 Melody of Colors Stakes, one of two black-type races on the card.

Cara Oliver’s Hear My Prayer sprinted to the lead and kept on going, shaking off Foolish Humor early and turning away Compensate late to earn her first career stakes victory in the Melody of Colors by 1 3/4 lengths, marking the fifth of Lopez’s seven winners on the 12-race card. Compensate was second and Foolish Humor was third.

Lopez, a past Championship Meet riding champion who sits third in the current standings, also won aboard Strike Magic in race 1, Time to Two Step in race 2, French Quarter in race 5, and Quick Step Ed in race 6, adding a sixth win aboard We Miss Susie in race 10 and a seventh aboard National Honor in race 12.

With his seventh win, Lopez joined the company of Luis Saez (twice), Tyler Gaffalione, and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey, according to Gulfstream Park publicity. Saez achieved the feat Jan. 24, 2018 and March 29, 2018. Gaffalione won seven on July 4, 2017, while Bailey did so on March 11, 1996.

Trained by David Fisher, Hear My Prayer was a popular winner at even money in the field of 11 3-year-old fillies, cutting back to five furlongs following her 2020 debut, in which she was sixth after setting the pace in the 7 1/2-furlong Ginger Brew Stakes Jan. 4 at Gulfstream. She is a daughter of The Big Beast out of the Songandaprayer mare Additional Prayer.

She was bought for $16,000 by Omega Farm, agent, from the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2018 October Yearling Sale from the consignment of Camelot Acres Racing & Sales.

The winning time was :55.89 over a firm turf course.

Two races later on the card, Smart Angle’s Cajun Casanova rallied from far back to win the $75,000 Texas Glitter Stakes, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Michael Pino, Cajun Casanova, who captured the five-furlong Hollywood Beach Stakes on turf last year at Gulfstream, was claimed for $50,000 out of 5 1/4-length victory in a five-furlong, off-the-turf starter optional claiming race Jan. 23. The son of Cajun Breeze pressed the pace before finishing second in a five-furlong allowance on turf for his new connections Feb. 17.

Saturday, Cajun Casanova and jockey Miguel Vasquez employed different tactics with success. Cajun Casanova chased the pace in fourth as R Man Joe set solid fractions of :21.47 and :43.36 for the first half-mile before swinging wide entering the stretch and kicking in to win by neck.

R Man Joe finished second under Emisael Jaramillo, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of late-charging Guildsman and jockey Luis Saez.

Cajun Casanova, bred in Florida by Shadybrook Farm and out of the Concerto mare Theladysaidno, ran five furlongs in :55.28.

Paco Lopez Ties Gulfstream Record With Seven Winners On Saturday – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Cara Oliver’s Hear My Prayer sprinted to the lead and kept on going, shaking off Foolish Humor early and turning away Compensate late to earn her first career stakes victory in the $75,000 Melody of Colors by 1 ½ lengths, giving jockey Paco Lopez his fifth of a record-equaling seven victories on Saturday’s 12-race program at Gulfstream Park.

Lopez, a past Championship Meet riding champion who sits third in the current standings, won aboard Strike Magic ($21) in Race 1, Time to Two Step ($2.40) in Race 2, French Quarter ($3.60) in Race 5 and Quick Step Ed ($8.80) in Race 6, adding a sixth win aboard We Miss Susie ($6) in Race 10 and a seventh aboard National Honor ($11.80) in Race 12.

With his seventh win Lopez joined the company of Luis Saez (twice), Tyler Gaffalione and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey. Saez achieved the feat Jan. 24, 2018 and March 29, 2018. Gaffalione won seven on July 4, 2017, while Bailey set the record on March 11, 1996.
Trained by David Fisher, Hear My Prayer ($4) was a popular winner at even money in the field of 11 3-year-old fillies, cutting back to five furlongs following her 2020 debut, in which she was sixth after setting the pace in the 7 ½-furlong Ginger Brew Jan. 4 at Gulfstream.

The winning time was 55.89 seconds over a firm turf course.

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Hear My Prayer was intent on the lead from Post 4 and dueled through an opening quarter-mile in 21.23 seconds with Foolish Humor at her right hip. Foolish Humor began to fade around the turn and Compensate picked up the chase down the center of the track after a half in 43.80, but was unable to reel in the winner. Compensate was second, with Foolish Humor third, Mrs. Maisel fourth and 70-1 long shot Free the Beast fifth.

Hear My Prayer improved to 3-0 sprinting five furlongs on the grass, her other wins coming last fall at both Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West, each in front-running fashion. She was unable to sustain her lead in the Ginger Brew and wound up beaten 3 ¼ lengths.

Two races later, Smart Angle LLP’s Cajun Casanova rallied from far back to win the $75,000 Texas Glitter, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Michael Pino, Cajun Casanova, who captured the five-furlong Hollywood Beach on turf last year at Gulfstream, was claimed for $50,000 out of an eight-length victory in a five-furlong off-the-turf optional claiming allowance Jan. 23. The son of Cajun Breeze set the pace before finishing second in a five-furlong optional claiming allowance on turf for his new connections Feb. 17.

Saturday, Cajun Casanova ($9.40) and jockey Miguel Vasquez employed different tactics with success. Cajun Casanova chased the pace in fourth as R Man Joe set solid fractions of 21.47 and 43.36 seconds for the first half-mile before swinging wide entering the stretch and kicking in to win by neck.

R Man Joe finished second under Emisael Jaramillo, 1 ½ lengths ahead of late-charging Guildsman and jockey Luis Saez.

Cajun Casanova ran five furlongs in 55.28 seconds.

Trophy Chaser wins stretch duel in Challenger Stakes

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Trophy Chaser continued in peak form, getting the best of the comebacking King for a Day in a thrilling renewal of the Grade 3, $100,000 Challenger Stakes, part of the Tampa Bay Derby undercard Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

King for a Day, making his first start since two races at Monmouth Park last summer against Maximum Security, gave way grudgingly and was beaten a neck by Trophy Chaser in a sustained stretch duel.

“This is a very nice horse,” said Paco Lopez, who rode Trophy Chaser for JCA Racing Stable and trainer Juan Avila. “I asked the trainer to start running him long distance, and finally he did it last time. As you can see today, he is running very good.”

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Trophy Chaser, a 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt, returned $6.80 as second choice after completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:42.28 over a fast track. He was coming off a two-turn allowance romp at his home track of Gulfstream Park in a breakthrough effort that earned him a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

“This is a great thrill,” Avila said through an interpreter. “I’ve won 12 stakes in Venezuela but this is my first in the United States.”

King for a Day, trained by Todd Pletcher, was the even-money favorite in a field of eight older horses, mostly on the strength of his upset over Maximum Security, the eventual 3-year-old champion, last June in the Pegasus.

Prompt was 11 lengths back in third and followed by Big Dollar Bill in fourth.

This was the first time in 29 runnings that the Challenger was graded.

Doc Boy captures Columbia

One race earlier, Doc Boy launched a huge stretch run in winning the $75,000 Columbia when making his first start in five months.

Trained by Mike Stidham for Stallionaire Enterprises, Doc Boy saved ground when racing mid-pack on both turns of the one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, then angled out smartly for the drive. Once jockey Joe Bravo asked him for his best, it was all over, as the Into Mischief colt took over with powerful strides in winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Mr. Kringle. The winning time was 1:34.67 over a firm course, and Doc Boy paid $15.20 to win.

Doc Boy won two of five starts last year and had not raced since finishing 12th in the Grade 3 Bourbon in early October at Keeneland. Summer Assault was along late for third, while Chapalu, the 6-5 favorite in a field of 10, faded to fifth after stalking the pace.

J P’s Delight back in winner’s circle

Early on the card, J P’s Delight ($5.40) got an early jump on heavily favored Point of Honor before striding clear to a four-length score in the $39,300 Manatee at seven furlongs.

Trained by Kathleen O’Connell for Brent Fernung and Eugene Cahalan, J P’s Delight finished in 1:22.48 with Paco Lopez aboard. She paid $5.40 to win. The 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of J P’s Gusto now has won four of five career starts.

Point of Honor ran creditably as the 3-5 favorite in her first start in nearly seven months, and at a shorter than ideal distance. The daughter of Curlin was a standout last year at 3, winning the Suncoast and Black-Eyed Susan and finishing second in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama.

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