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Wolfson Finalizes Stakes Plans

Trainer Marty Wolfson had a number of stakes runners from his powerful stable on the track at Calder Race Course for workouts Sunday morning and plans to have runners in three of the four stakes races to be run at Gulfstream Park next Saturday and Sunday.

Team Valor and Gary Barber’s Motovato and Estate of Edmund Gann’s You and I Forever breezed easy half-miles in 51 2/5 and 49 4/5, respectively. Both 5-year-olds will go in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) Saturday going one mile after finishing third and seventh, respectively, in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) at seven furlongs on Feb. 13.

Motovato broke in the air and was left at the start, before launching a big rally around the far turn and into the stretch, to be beaten a length for it all at the finish by favorite Munnings. A son of Proud Citizen, Motovato has since been sold privately by the Estate of Edmund Gann to Team Valor International and Gary Barber with Wolfson retained as trainer.

You and I Forever is a regally-bred son of A.P. Indy out of Test Stakes (G1) winner You, and ran a very big race at Gulfstream on opening day, Jan. 3, to finish second in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Quality Road. However, he never really fired in the Gulfstream Sprint, beaten 6 ¾ lengths by Munnings in his only start since.

Wolfson has four fillies and mares nominated for the $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) to be run at seven furlongs on Sunday and plans to run Andrew Rosen’s 4-year-old filly First Passage, who will be making her first start since a close-up fourth-place finish in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 8 after being left at the break.

“She’s trained very well and we’ve worked on her gate problems,” said Wolfson. “The bad start cost her (victory) the Test. (Javier) Castellano will ride.”

First Passage is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Giant’s Causeway and was beaten 1 ¾ lengths for it all by Godolphin’s Flashing after rallying from last of eight near the top of the stretch after the poor start.

First Passage was a $1.2 million Keeneland September yearling purchase and finished unplaced in her only start as a 2-year-old in England at Newmarket for trainer Brian Meehan. She re-surfaced with Wolfson here last winter, breaking her maiden going seven furlongs in early March and finishing second in an allowance race in two races over the Gulfstream track.

She won her next three starts at Calder, two overnight stakes, and then the $200,000 Azalea Stakes (G3) on Summit of Speed day, July 11, with Zayat Stable’s Kays and Jays second invading from California. The latter returned from California last month to win the Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) on Feb. 13 and has remained here to run in the Inside Information.

The Wolfson team’s other stakes starter here next weekend will be Farnsworth Stables’ 6-year-old Jessica Is Back, likely the favorite in the $75,000 Ocala Stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares going seven furlongs on Saturday. The daughter of Put It Back finished second last out in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff going 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 30.

Another Wolfson-trained stakes star on the Sunday morning work tab at Calder was Farnsworth Stables’ 7-year-old gelding Jet Propulsion, wire-to-wire winner of the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf here on Jan. 30 and a game third last out behind Courageous Cat in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) on Feb. 20. The winner there ran the one mile on ‘firm’ turf in near world record time of 1:31 3/5.

Jet Propulsion breezed a half-mile in 49 3/5 and is getting ready for his third start for Farnsworth and Wolfson since being claimed for $50,000 at Calder from a winning effort on Dec. 12. The next race for his division on the South Florida schedule will be the $100,000 Appleton Stakes (G3) going 7 ½ furlongs on Florida Derby Day, Mar. 20, but Wolfson has other plans for the son of Double Honor. 

“He’s going to Fair Grounds,” said Wolfson, referring to the $500,000 Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (G2) to be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Mar. 27. “I think he’s better going a mile-and-an-eighth like in the Sunshine Millions with likely a slower pace, than a shorter distance like in his last start.

“I thought he ran great in the Canadian to go 45 and 1:08 and still be close at the finish to Courageous Cat, who I think might be the best middle distance horse in training right now.”

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