Daring Kathy will get another crack at the boys on Saturday when she faces eight of them in the $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park. Having won the nine-furlong My Charmer Stakes (G3) in 2014, the 5-year-old mare shortened up in the Bonita Stakes on June 4 and finished second best to Successful Native after a wide trip.
Owned by John Eaton and Steve Laymon, Daring Kathy has won five stakes races overall under the tutelage of trainer David Fawkes. Fawkes opted to try sprinting in an effort to revitalize the daughter of Forest Wildcat.
“I thought she ran great,” Fawkes said of the Bonita. “The first time going five-eighths, it’s a bigger rush than they’re used to. Before we were saying, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa.’ Now we’re asking her out of the gate. I’m happy the way she’s coming into the race. She had a super breeze. I’m really happy.”
Though Daring Kathy was also nominated to the Spook Express against fellow distaffers, her connections chose to concentrate on one-turn races for the time being, and Fawkes isn’t worried about facing males again.
“I don’t think when you’re sprinting, it means as much,” Fawkes offered. “Wesley (Ward) does it all the time.”
Cornelio Velasquez rode Daring Kathy for the first time in the Bonita and has the call once more. The duo will break from post eight.
Successful Native will be tough to handle once more over his favored course and distance while drawn in post two. Owned by Marco Thoroughbred Corp. and trained by Aubrey Maragh, the 5-year-old son of Successful Appeal is coming off two straight wins over the five-furlong trip of the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint. Matthew Rispoli, aboard for each of those two victories, has the mount once again.
Team Valor’s Speechify, a multiple stakes winner on dirt, is slated to make his first appearance since finishing fourth to XY Jet in his title defense of the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) in December. Trained by Ralph Nicks, the 6-year-old has made two starts on grass, including a close second in a Gulfstream allowance last April. Javier Castellano is amed to ride Speechify, who drew the four hole for his return to action.
The son of Harlan’s Holiday suffered a fall in the Woodford Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last October, and made two subsequent starts before Nicks opted to give him a vacation.
“His last couple of races after he fell at Keeneland were sub-par, so we gave him a bit of freshening,” Nicks explained. “He’s a bit older and he has his issues, but he’s been training well. Turf might be bit easier on him at his age.
“It’s a great asset to have Javier riding,” Nicks added. “I’ll leave things up to him. We’ll see what happens when the gates open, but hopefully he’ll be able to get a stalking trip.”
Also in the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint are Starship Wildcat, Shadow Rock, Besame, Moonstricking, Doctor J Dub and Do the Roar.
Simon Saddles Two in Miesque’s Approval
Seven veterans will contest the $75,000 Miesque’s Approval Stakes going 8 1/2 furlongs on the grass at Gulfstream Park, and trainer Charles Simon will saddle two of the leading contenders in Xaverian and Aire Bueno.
Garnet Stable’s Xaverian had shown some of his best form in turf marathons at Gulfstream, finishing second in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes in January and a close third in the 12-furlong Gleaming Stakes on May 28. However, the 5-year-old son of Sky Mesa came back a week after the latter to contest the one-mile Raymond Earl Stakes and weaved his way through to beat Hammers Terror, and looms a major threat with his inside draw. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez will be in the saddle once more aboard Xaverian.
“It’s probably a little bit shorter than ideal for him, but he’s the rare type of horse that can handle pretty much any distance,” Simon said. “He’s probably better going a bit farther, but he’s handy enough to deal with the shorter distance. He’s a nice horse. The rail is fine for him, he’ll be able to save ground. It doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot of pace in the race, so he’ll probably have to be a bit closer than usual. He can go through a hole, and he can go inside or outside—there doesn’t have to be much room, he’ll go anywhere. Some horses won’t go through unless there’s a big opening, but he will. Cornelio fits him well.”
The Chilean-bred Aire Bueno was also scheduled to run in the Raymond Earl, but was scratched after dumping regular rider Matthew Rispoli in the post parade. A two-time winner over the Gulfstream grass, the 7-year-old returned on June 16 and wound up having a troubled trip on his way to finishing second behind Grand Isle in an optional claimer.
“He got stopped and was stuck behind speed that was slowing down,” Simon explained. “But he came out of that race really good. I’m running him back on a little bit of short rest.”
While Xaverian typically does his best running in the stretch, Simon expects Aire Bueno to be more prominently positioned from his outside draw.
“He’ll probably be up close or on the lead,” Simon added. “It took us a while to figure out how he wants to be ridden. He’s a funny horse, because you can’t just throw the reins at him. He wants to run through the bit, so it’s kind of the opposite of what jockeys usually do. He kept galloping out past everybody when they were trying to pull him up, but we finally put two and two together. So that’s what he wants.”
Michael Hui’s Hammers Terror will have the services of leading jockey Javier Castellano when he breaks from post three. Trained by Mike Maker, the 7-year-old son of Artie Schiller captured an optional claimer at Fair Grounds in February before finishing a close third in a Keeneland allowance in April. He rejoined Maker’s Gulfstream string prior to the Raymond Earl and just missed out on the win.
“He’s been training so good,” assistant trainer Evelio Chavez said. “I think he’s going to run great. I don’t know about the other horses, but I think he’s going to be right there. He’s a very nice, easy horse to be around. It makes everything very easy for us.”
The Miesque’s Approval field is completed by Diamond Bachelor, Grand Isle, Star Contender and Morning Calm. Johnny Handsome and Joshua’s Comprise were entered as main-track only.
Susie Bee Set for Spook Express
Calumet Farm’s Susie Bee has drawn the rail for the $75,000 Spook Express Stakes, an 8 1/2-furlong turf test for fillies and mares on the Summit of Speed program at Gulfstream. Conditioned by Mike Maker, the 4-year-old English Channel filly put forth a determined effort to win her latest, the $75,000 Amelia Island Stakes going a mile on June 4. She has thrived since that appearance, according to assistant trainer Evelio Chavez.
“She came back really good from the last race and I think she’s the horse to beat,” he said. “She loves it here at Gulfstream. She’s very easy to train—she just does everything easily. After the (Amelia Island), I told Mike she needs to go right back to the track because she was getting a little crazy in the stall. It’s her style to come out of nowhere, so I don’t worry about that.”
Susie Bee will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo in the Spook Express.
Miller Racing’s Lori Store, the defending champion in the Spook Express, will be making her first appearance since prevailing in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare on January 16. Trainer Martin Wolfson has been patient with the 6-year-old daughter of El Prado, who displays her best form when given time between starts. The Florida-bred mare has won four of her 10 starts on the turf at Gulfstream. Tyler Gaffalione will handle the reins on Lori’s Store, who will break from post four.
Arindel’s Pink Poppy is looking for her first victory since the 2015 Sunshine Millions, but has raced with credit this campaign. The Tiznow mare finished a length behind Lori’s Store in this year’s renewal, and comes into this test off a close third in the Amelia Island. Elvis Trujillo will ride Pink Poppy, who will start from the five hole.
Also in the Spook Express are Byegone Days, Sweetie Girl, Andreya’s Reward, Skyluck, E B Ryder and Latique.
Source: Gulfstream Park