has shown quite the affinity for the Gulfstream
turf thus far in his career. In 7 career starts over the South Florida track’s grass, the chestnut Castledale (IRE)
gelding is 7: 3-1-2 with his worst finish being a fourth place finish in an allowance optional claiming event on New Year’s Eve of last year. Owned by Richard Sherman
, the gelding scored his third career win at Gulfstream Park in today’s El Prado Stakes
Unhurried early, Nikki’s Sandcastle kicked into gear in the backstretch and continued advancing steadily despite being hung five wide on the turn. After finally finding running room on the rail, Kharafa gained the lead in the late stages of the stretch run but could not hold off the game Nikki’s Sandcastle’s closing kick.
After running exclusively in allowance company for the first two and half years of his career, Nikki’s Sandcastle was moved into stakes company in June of this year. After winning his stakes debut in the Sea O Erin Stakes, the gelding only disappointed once, finishing 7th in the G3 Arlington Handicap against the likes of Rahystada
, and Mister Marti Gras
. Beginning with the Sea O Erin Stakes, the gutsy gelding has gone 7: 3-3-0. During that stretch, the son of Castledale finished second in the G2 Fayette Stakes, checking in behind Newsdad
and ahead of Take Charge Indy
, and won the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes earlier in the month, soundly beating Grade 1 winner King David
and Grade 1 placed King Kreesa
If the chestnut gelding’s recent form is any indication, this one will be one to watch over the coming year, particularly at Gulfstream where he appears to feel most at home. Nikki’s Sandcastle’s next start is still a bit up in the air. Trainer David Kassen
said that the plan had been to ship to Texas for the G3 John Connally
on January 26 but that they would rather stay at Gulfstream. Kassen cited the level of competition as one of the deciding factors. The competition in Texas may be softer, but Nikki’s Sandcastle favors Gulfstream. With several turf races coming up in the next few months, there are plenty of options available. I would expect Nikki’s Sandcastle to run well no matter where he’s placed.
Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos