S. Farish and partners’ 6-year-old Grasshopper and Paul Pompa, Jr. and
partners’ highly-accomplished sprinter This Ones for Phil meet for the first
time going one mile Saturday in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), a
distance perhaps short for one and longer than the other prefers.
Alan Garcia rides Grasshopper for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the 66th running
of the storied event won early in its history by Armed, Coaltown, Sailor, Round
Table, Bald Eagle, Kelso and Gun Bow and later by Forego, Bowl Game, Christmas
Past, Cigar, Skip Away and Corinthian.
Kentucky homebred horse by Dixie Union, Grasshopper is best-known during his
career for finishing a game second in the 2007 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga
behind Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense, beaten a half-length for
trainer Neil Howard. However, his career has been up and down since then,
placing in some major events, but missing the board in all three of his starts
was sent to the sidelines after finishing a dull sixth in the Ben Ali Stakes
(G3) at Keeneland in April last year and returned this winter in training with
McLaughlin at Palm Meadows. In one start tuning up for Saturday’s race he
scored a game half-length victory over a strong field in a one-mile allowance
race on Feb. 3.
Velazquez will be aboard This Ones for Phil in his second start this season
after they teamed up for a hard-fought nose victory in the Sunshine Millions
Sprint going six furlongs here on Jan. 30 for trainer Rick Dutrow. The chestnut
gelding by Untuttable won the Sunshine Millions Dash here early last year and
the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (G2) after the disqualification of Big Drama in
a memorable renewal.
proven Graded stakes performer in the field of 11 is Stronach Stable’s
5-year-old Harlem Rocker with Eibar Coa in the saddle for leading trainer Todd
Pletcher. The roan/gray Canadian homebred by Macho Uno finished fourth behind
Quality Road in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) here on opening day, Jan. 3, but was
likely not helped by a slow pace working against his closing style.
Rocker won the Withers Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct, Prince of Wales at Fort Erie and finished
first in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct as a 3-year-old in 2008, but was
disqualified in the latter after finishing a nose ahead of Tale of Ekati.
Harlem Rocker made only one start last year, beaten a head in a Churchill Downs
allowance in November.
Marty Wolfson sends out a pair of contenders with Elvis Trujillo to ride Team
Valor International’s 5-year-old Motovato and Javier Castellano named on Estate
of Edmund Gann’s 5-year-old You and I Forever. The two finished third and
seventh last out, respectively, in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Sprint
Championship (G2) on Feb. 13.
is a son of Proud Citizen and was beaten only a length for it all by Munnings
in the Gulfstream Sprint after being virtually eliminated after breaking in the
air at the start. You and I Forever is a son of A.P. Indy that ran well to
finish second in the Hal’s Hope behind Quality Road,
but obviously didn’t show his best in the Gulfstream Sprint.
the field are R.L. Johnson’s Congressional Page. C.H. Marquez, Jr.; Darley
Stable’s Past the Point, Edgar Prado; Judson Streicher’s Le Grand Cru, Cornelio
Velasquez; Joseph LaCombe Stable’s Supreme Summit, Paco Lopez; Currey Delmer
URS Racing’s Inkado, Jesus Castanon; and Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, Eddie
be run on the Gulfstream Park Handicap card will be the $75,000 Ocala Stakes
for Florida-bred fillies and mares and trainer Marty Wolfson sends out the
likely choice in Farnsworth Stable’s 6-year-old Jessica Is Back with Elvis
Trujillo after her game runner-up effort last out in the Sunshine Millions
Distaff on Jan. 30.
the field of eight are Tom and Helene Andreandakis’ Mary Kisses, John Prete’s
Sweetsouthernqueen, Alter’s Racing Stable’s With Moms Approval, Farnsworth
Stables’ Wyatt’s Women, Desirae Potter and David Ludwig’s Bob’s Jawbreaker,
Rayzin the Bar Stable’s Fearless Leader and Shirley Duco’s Glotona.