A wide-open field of eight was entered in the one-mile, $100,000 Gulfstream Park
Derby with John Oxley’s Star Contender
and Goodwood Racing II’s Purple Egg
the likely choices.
Star Contender was among the leading 2-year-olds developed at Woodbine
in 2012, winning the $250,000 Cup and Saucer Stakes and finishing second
last out in the $250,000 Coronation Futurity on Nov. 10. The
Canadian-bred son of Henny Hughes sets out on his 3-year-old campaign
with jockey Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer Mark Casse, who is
putting ‘blinkers on’ for Tuesday’s race.
“We had a lot of nice 2-year-olds this year and he was the greenest of
the bunch,” said Casse Wednesday morning from Palm Meadows. “He’s
Canadian-bred and there are so many good races for them at Woodbine, we
just left him up there. He’s trained very well on dirt, but it’s a
question you want to answer.”
An $80,000 Canadian September yearling sales purchase, Star Contender
finished third making his career debut sprinting in the Simcoe Stakes in
early September, a race won by Casse-trained stablemate Dynamic Sky.
Star Contender stretched out to two turns to break his maiden in his
second start later that month prior to capturing the Cup and Saucer on
Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. will get aboard Purple Egg for the first time as
the Lion Heart gelding bids for his fourth victory in as many starts for
trainer Jane Cibelli. A modest $22,000 Keeneland September yearling
purchase, Purple Egg was an impressive debut winner at Monmouth Park in
late August, won an allowance race by 6 ¾ lengths at Parx in
mid-September and rallied to a one-length victory last out in the
Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 1.
”The first time I saw this horse gallop, I said ‘What a stride!’ He did
things so easily,” said Cibelli recently. “His last race was his
toughest after the first two came to him rather easily. I’ve always
thought he wanted to go long.”
Also certain to attract solid support in the race will be Dream Walkin
Farms’ Almost English
and jockey Jose Lezcano in the saddle for trainer
Nick Zito. The roan/gray colt by Tapit was a $160,000 Keeneland
September yearling purchase and has made three starts.
Almost English finished second by a half-length in his six-furlong
debut at Delaware Park on Sept. 22, broke his maiden next out on Oct. 14
at Parx going seven furlongs and finished third last out in an ‘off the
turf’ one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 7.
Completing the field for the Gulfstream Park Derby are Pinnacle Racing
Stable’s Uptown Anthem, Juan Leyva; Rose Stephany Taveras’ Sr.
Quisqueyano, Joel Rosario; Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s
Itsmyluckyday, Paco Lopez and Rose Family Stable’s Joshua’s Comprise,