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Breeders' Cup 2017

Battle Plan Tops Thursday Feature

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

The $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on Saturday will be the highlight of this week’s action at Gulfstream Park, but fans will have plenty to watch beginning Wednesday with the card featuring Barbaro’s 3-year-old full-brother Lentenor tested in a turf allowance race and Overbrook Farm’s highly-promising 5-year-old Battle Plan in a main track allowance on Thursday among the high points.

Leading jockey John R. Velazquez and leading trainer Todd Pletcher team up with Battle Plan Thursday making only the fourth start of his career in the ‘two other than’ optional/allowance feature at 1 1/8 miles after his very impressive victory winning a one-mile allowance on Jan. 8 by 3 ¼ lengths in his first start in nearly a year.

Battle Plan is a regally-bred Empire Maker horse out of Overbrook’s 1994 Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly Flanders, but he showed little finishing eighth of nine after a bad gate experience in his career debut in November of 2008 at Churchill Downs. He came back for his second start here on Jan. 16, 2009 and broke his maiden by 7 ¾ lengths going a mile before the lengthy layoff to this season.

Battle Plan’s six rivals include two 4-year-olds that were high-profile potential Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls at this time last year. Jockey Rajiv Maragh rides Lally Stable’s Saratoga Sinner for trainer Eddie Kenneally and Jose Lezcano will be aboard Lansdon Robbins III and Sam Delaney’s Danger to Society for trainer Rick Dutrow.

Saratoga Sinner went from breaking his maiden in his third career start here last year on Jan. 7 to winning the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) 3 ½ weeks later, but didn’t run again until a dull sixth-place finish in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on Aug. 1. The son of Harlan’s Holiday has struggled in five starts since then, most recently finishing fifth and fourth in allowance races at this meet.

Danger to Society was impressive winning his first two career starts at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old and his 3-year-old debut early last year here for trainer Ken McPeek. Also a son of Harlan’s Holiday, Danger to Society was sent into the Holy Bull as the 9-to-5 favorite, but finished seventh behind Saratoga Sinner, obviously not on his best game.

Transferred to Dutrow after the Holy Bull, Danger to Society made only one more start last year, finishing ninth of 10 behind Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Apr. 11 before being sent to the sidelines for the rest of the season.

Completing the field for Thursday’s race are Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Headache, Julien Leparoux; Carolyn Chapman’s Atlantic Paws, J.A. Garcia; Tomisue Hilbert and John Menard’s Chris Got Even, Javier Castellano; and Thor-Bred Stable’s Beresford, Joe Bravo. 


Striking Dancer Captures La Canada for McPeek Sunday

Trainer Ken McPeek has the main division of his powerful stable in South Florida divided between Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows, but he also has a smaller string campaigning at Santa Anita this winter, and scored a big victory there Sunday when Stevestan Stable’s 4-year-old filly Striking Dancer posted a 13-to-1 upset in the $150,000 La Canada Stakes (G2) with jockey Alex Solis aboard.

Striking Dancer is a chestnut daughter of Smart Strike and was impressive winning an allowance on turf at Gulfstream last winter. She went into the La Canada after a very rough trip when seventh in a Santa Anita allowance on Jan. 8. The victory was the second from just 13 starts at the meet for McPeek, who also saddled Livin the Dream Stable’s Dream Empress to finish sixth in the La Canada.

Trainer Bill Mott also has a small satellite division at Santa Anita this winter and sent out Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler’s Unrivaled Belle to finish fourth in the La Canada with Kent Desormeaux also making the trip from Gulfstream for stakes mounts over the three-day holiday weekend.

Desormeaux rides Wachtel Stable and partners’ 3-year-old Raging Wit for Mott in Monday’s $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs. The son of Distorted Humor finished seventh in the Dania Beach Stakes on turf at Gulfstream last out on Jan. 16, although beaten only 3 ¼ lengths by the winner.

There were several other Gulfstream connections in the La Canada, including IEAH Stables and partners’ Stardom Bound finishing seventh as the favorite for trainer Rick Dutrow with Julien Leparoux flying out to ride in stakes events Saturday and Sunday.

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