Lochte generated a quick and lucrative return on investment for Crossed Sabres Farm in 2014 when he captured the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) only three months after being purchased at auction for $60,000.
The 6-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro hasn’t quite succeeded in repeating his success in Grade 1 company, but the Marcus Vitali-trained gelding has proven to be a most enduring turf performer, going on to win five more stakes.
The late-closing Lochte is scheduled to seek his fourth straight stakes victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 4-year olds and up.
“He loves to train. He’s strong. He’s straight-forward,” Vitali said. “The only quirk he has is that you can’t let him run too much. He’ll train all day.”
Lochte, who was newly gelded when he sold at the Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale at Saratoga in 2013, has been particularly productive since returning to South Florida in the fall, capturing three straight stakes by a combined total of 12 lengths.
“He’s definitely on the improve. He’s doing good; he’s doing everything right,” Vitali said. “The exercise rider said he’s stronger than ever.”
Lochte captured the Mr. Steele Stakes at Gulfstream on Sept. 24 by 3 ¼ lengths before scoring at Gulfstream Park West in the Spider John Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths and the Tropical Turf Handicap (G3) by four lengths.
“He loves it in Florida,” Vitali said. “I’ve always said he’s a horse for the course. He’s always done better in South Florida.”
Lochte, who has earned more than $750,000 in purses, is scheduled to be ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano, the four-time defending Championship Meet titlist.
A field of 11 (and a main-track-only runner) was entered in the Fort Lauderdale, including three last-out graded-stakes winners: Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Takeover Target, Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart, and Calumet Farm, Sagamore Farm and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ War Correspondent.
Takeover Target capped a most promising sophomore season with a 1 ¾-length victory in the Hill Prince (G3) at Belmont Park Oct. 3.
“We’ve always liked the horse since he’s been an unraced 2-year-old. We’re proud of the way he’s developed thus far and we think there’s more room to develop more,” said trainer Chad Brown, who also saddled Takeover Target for a triumph in the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in August.
The 4-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday will enter the Fort Lauderdale off a steady string of four-furlong breezes at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s state-of-art training facility in Palm Beach County.
“We backed off him a little bit. We’ve been gearing up for his 4-year-old year,” said Brown, who named Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride Takeover Target. “I think he’s a top horse and we believe he’ll be a major player in this division this year, and this is a good place to start.”
Brian Lynch-trained Heart to Heart captured the River City (G3) at Churchill Downs last time out and won the Oceanport (G3) at Monmouth two starts earlier. Julien Leparoux has the return mount aboard the 5-year-old son of English Channel.
War Correspondent is scheduled to return from a 10-month layoff in the Fort Lauderdale. The Christophe Clement-trained son of War Front captured the Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream before heading to the sidelines. The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred finished a close third in the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) last February.
John Oxley’s Sky Flight (Artie Schiller at Aqueduct) and Key to Power (Claiming Crown Emerald at Gulfstream) are last-out stakes winners, while Melnyk Racing Stables’ Luke’s Alley (G2 Autumn at Woodbine) is a last-out stakes-placed entrant.
All Included, Fredricksburg, Money Talker and Slip By round out the field. Multiple graded-stakes winner Madefromlucky is a main-track only entrant.
Source: Gulfstream Park