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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Uncaptured Takes Shot at Gulfstream 'Cap

Uncaptured POW 615 X 400
Photo: Michael Burns Photography

Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Palace Malice is making his 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), but he is not the only classic winner in the eight-horse field.            

Ontario-bred Uncaptured, trained by Mark Casse for owner John Oxley, had one victory in eight starts as a 3-year-old in 2013, taking the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Race Track last July.            

The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales is the second leg of Canada’s Triple Crown and the only one of the three races run on dirt. Woodbine hosts both the Queen’s Plate, contested at 1 ¼ miles on Polytrack, and the Breeders’ Stakes, run over 1 ½ miles on turf.            

Luis Contreras will ride Uncaptured for the first time in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. In 2011, Contreras became the first jockey to sweep Canada’s Triple Crown with different horses taking the Queen’s Plate with Inglorious and the Prince of Wales and Breeders’ Stakes with Pender Harbour.            

Uncaptured has gone winless since the Prince of Wales, where he rallied from mid-pack to beat River Seven by a length. They met again in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream on Feb. 9 with Uncaptured finishing fifth, five spots ahead of River Seven.            

“It was nice. It was funny because we employed a different strategy and came from out of it, and he actually won with considerable ease,” Casse said of the Prince of Wales win, his second in a row and third overall. “As it turns out, he beat a pretty good horse in River Seven. It’s always exciting to win a classic race. The one race that’s eluded us so far is the Queen’s Plate, and hopefully we can take care of that this year.”                                   

Canada’s champion 2-year-old male and Horse of the Year in 2012, Uncaptured has run twice this winter at Gulfstream. He came from far back to run fourth in the one-mile Hal’s Hope (G3) on Jan. 11 prior to the Donn, where he dueled for the lead before fading to fifth. Both times he was beaten by the Bill Mott-trained Lea, who was not entered for Saturday’s race.            

“Uncaptured tries very hard,” Casse said. “At least there’s no Lea in there, so that’s good. Take nothing away from Palace Malice, but there seem to be horses that love that racetrack. Right now, I don’t know if anybody can beat Lea at Gulfstream Park.”            

Uncaptured has breezed once since the Donn, going five furlongs in 1:02 on March 1 at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. In addition to Palace Malice, he will be facing Florida Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) runner-up Itsmyluckyday and Falling Sky, winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G2) on Feb. 8 who was last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby (G1).            

“He came out of the Donn good and he’s continued to train well,” Casse said. “We initially hadn’t planned on running on Saturday but he’s training good and it looked like a decent spot for him. To me, it’s a good race. If Falling Sky brings his ‘A’ game, he’s going to be tough. I figure if you’re ever going to take on Palace Malice, this might be the time to do it with him coming back off a layoff. I like the distance, and we’ve got a couple races over the track. He’ll run well; hopefully, it’s enough to be competitive.”            

Contreras and Uncaptured will break from post three in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, with Falling Sky to his immediate right and Itsmyluckyday and Palace Malice in posts seven and eight, respectively.            

“I can see him somewhere in between. I think he’ll probably have a little more speed than he did in the Hal’s Hope, but not quite as much as the Donn,” Casse said. “Honestly, in the last race that was our strategy. We wanted him up there near the lead because it didn’t look like there was a whole lot of speed. Lea’s so good right now and he was pressing us, had he not been right off of us we may have run a little better. I thought our horse ran well. We were proud of him.”      


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