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Five Graded Winners Clash at the Gulf

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

Wednesday’s $56,000 allowance feature going one mile at Gulfstream Park looked like a good spot for a trainer to bring an accomplished stakes runner back from a layoff, but the water will be pretty deep as the field of seven includes five graded stakes winners and another that has placed in a grade 2 event.

Trainer Rick Dutrow holds a strong hand with a pair of 7-year-old geldings that won renewals of the Meadowlands Cup (G2) and other important races earlier in their careers and are returning from lengthy layoffs -- Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Diamond Stripes and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Arson Squad.

Jockey Edgar Prado is named on Diamond Stripes, a roan/gray son of Notebook that hasn’t run since winning the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2) in Dubai on Mar., 29, 2008, the same day Dutrow also sent out the top sprinter Benny the Bull to win the $2 million Golden Shaheen Stakes (G1).

Diamond Stripes won the 2007 Meadowlands Cup before finishing eighth behind Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on a ‘sloppy’ track that fall at Monmouth Park. Diamond Stripes has won six of only 12 career starts and has posted a string of solid workouts at Palm Meadows in preparation for his return.

Cornelio Velasquez gets the call on Arson Squad as he makes his first start since finishing a game fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on June 13, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Macho Uno. A son of Brahms, Arson Squad won the 2008 edition of the Meadowlands Cup and finished fourth in the Donn Handicap (G1) here last year before a dull try finishing 11th of 14 in the Dubai World Cup (G1).

The other three Graded stakes-winners entered in Wednesday’s race are William S. Farish and partners’ Grasshopper, Alan Garcia; Eli Lomita’s Buddy’s Humor, Jose Lezcano; and The Big Stable’s Delosvientos, Kendry Castillo.

Grasshopper was a major player in the 3-year-old division in 2007 when finishing second in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga for trainer Neil Howard, beaten only a half-length by Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense. The homebred son of Dixie Union went on to finish second in the Super Derby (G2) and won the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) at Fair Grounds early in 2008.

Grasshopper lost a tough neck decision finishing second as the favorite in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) in his next start, but failed to regain his best form in three appearances in 2009, most recently a dull sixth-place finish in the Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. He returns this season based at Palm Meadows in the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. 

Buddy’s Humor is a 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor trained by Bruce Levine who earned his graded stakes credentials winning the Pan American Stakes (G3) against Presious Passion last winter after the race was shifted from turf to a ‘sloppy’ main track. Buddy’s Humor makes his first start since finishing a close-up fourth behind Presious Passion in the Monmouth Stakes on turf on June 13.

Delosvientos is a 7-year-old gelding trained by Giuseppe Iadisernia and won the 2008 Brooklyn Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park going 1 1/2 miles. The son of Siphon bids to bounce back from a dull season debut here going 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 18 when finishing last of seven.

The field for Wednesday is completed by Timothy O’Toole’s 5-year-old Gentleman James with Elvis Trujillo aboard for trainer Marty Wolfson and Erre Ene Inc.’s 6-year-old Colonial Causeway and Jeffrey Sanchez in the saddle for trainer Manny Azpurua. Gentleman James finished second in the Carry Back Stakes (G2) at Calder in 2008 when trained by Myra Mora. 

 

Pletcher & Velazquez Lead After First Month at Gulfstream

Jockey John R. Velazquez rode three winners on Friday’s card at Gulfstream Park, two for trainer Todd Pletcher, as the team holds a clear lead in the standings over their closest rivals as the first month of the season comes to a close this weekend.

Velazquez has ridden 20 winners, five more than Rajiv Maragh who is second with 15. Julien Leparoux, 2009 Eclipse champion jockey, currently ranks third with 14 victories, followed by Elvis Trujillo and Javier Castellano tied for fourth at 13 apiece and Jose Lezcano and Jeremy Rose tied for sixth with 11 each.

Pletcher’s 12 wins are double that of closest rival Nick Zito second with six. Five other trainers are tied for third at five each. Pletcher is bidding for a seventh consecutive Gulfstream meet championship. Velazquez has previously won Gulfstream titles in 2004 and 2006.

 

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