Grade 1 winners Bullards Alley is set for a return to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s $200,000 W. L. McKnight, seeking to improve on a close second-place finish in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes Dec. 30.
The W.L. McKnight, a 1 ½-mile turf stakes for 4-year-olds and up, will be part of Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) undercard of seven stakes worth and additional $1.225 million in purses.
Bullards Alley, who captured the Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine in October at 42-1 before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar Nov. 4, took the lead in deep stretch in the Jerkens, only to fall short by a head of holding off Mike Maker-trained Run Time in the two-mile turf stakes honoring the memory of the legendary Hall of Fame trainer.
“We were happy with the way he ran. It was his first race off a little layoff. Usually, his first races back after having some time off haven’t been too stellar. He ran a winning race,” trainer Tim Glyshaw said. “Mike’s horse just got the run on him on the outside and had a little bit of a better trip. I’ve never been a weight person but I’m sure six pounds over two miles might make bit of a difference.”
Bullards Alley, who conceded between two and six pounds to his rivals as the 123-pound Jerkens high weight, has been training forwardly at Fair Grounds for his return trip to Gulfstream.
“He’s been training well. He went into that last race working 1:03, which is not out of his norm. He’ll work slow sometimes and he’ll work fast sometimes. Really there is no pattern,” Glyshaw said. “Obviously, we’d like to see some better works out of him at some time. He worked a little over a minute at Fair Grounds in his last work, leading up to this. He’s going to be more ready for this.”
Paco Lopez has the return mount aboard Bullards Alley.
Maker will seek to upset Bullards Alley in the McKnight with Oscar Nominated and late-developing Markitoff.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated finished second behind Bullards Alley in the Canadian International, beaten by 10 ½ lengths, after capturing the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Markitoff is scheduled to make his stakes debut Saturday after winning his two most recent starts after going winless in his first eight starts. The 4-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway broke his maiden at Keeneland Oct. 22 before winning right back in an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park Jan. 1.
Jose Ortiz has the mount on Oscar Nominated, while Tyler Gaffalione is named to ride Markitoff.
Late-developing Gold Shield, who finished third in the Jerkens, is slated for a return in the McKnight for owners Lane’s End Racing and Kinsman Stable. The Shug McGaughey-trained 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro previously had won an Aqueduct optional claiming allowance by 6 ¼ lengths. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.
Amerman Racing LLC’s Infinite Wisdom, who set the pace before fading to fourth in the Jerkens; multiple graded-stakes winner Oscar Nominated; and Turf Stable’s Mr. Cub, a graded-stakes-placed 4-year-old who finished second in the Dec. 30 Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream last time out, are among the more highly regarded entrants in the McKnight. Frankie Dettori has the mount.
Final Copy, English Illusion, Nessy and Portree round out the field.
Source: Gulfstream Park