After showing flashes of brilliance as a sprinter, Richard the Great will seek to conquer two turns and seven rivals in Saturday’s Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park West.
The 1 1/16-mile Millions Classic Preview, a prep for the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park Jan. 20, is one of eight $75,000 stakes for Florida-bred horses on Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream Park.
A 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor, Richard the Great has raced exclusively in sprint races, winning four times in 11 races.
“He’s supposed to go long and we’d like to see him go long, so we’re going to try him long,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “He’s bred to go long. If we’re going to try him long, we’re not going to find a better spot to try him long.”
The Arindel Farm homebred most recently finished off-the-board in the Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 6.
“I never saw him put in a run at any point,” Gold said. “He came back here looking fine, so that’s a throw-out race.”
Prior to his disappointing Keeneland start, Richard the Great demonstrated dazzling speed and gameness in his three prior starts at Gulfstream Park. The gray gelding captured an optional claiming allowance by a half-length after stalking the pace July 22, running six furlongs in 1:09.98. He came right back to register a front-running triumph in Trinniberg Handicap by 7 ½ lengths, completing seven-furlongs in a sharp 1:21.05. In his start prior to shipping to Keeneland, he dueled between horses while pressing and/or setting the pace in the Sept. 3 Groomstick Handicap, finishing a half-length behind next-out winner Splash Rules.
“The two races before the Keeneland race – those were two tough sprints,” Gold said. “The jockey sent him to do that and he had the ability to do it. Going long, he’ll be able to settle. When he went to the lead, (jockey Emisael) Jaramillo was sending him, because that’s what he needed to do. I think he’ll be comfortable coming out of the gate, settling and come running.”
Jaramillo has the return mount.
Defending champion Mr. Jordan will be among Richard the Great’s more accomplished and two turn-established opponents in the Millions Classic Preview.
The son of Kantharos won by 3 ¾ lengths in last year’s edition, running his career record at Gulfstream Park West to 3-for-3. He also won the Juvenile Sprint Stakes for Florida-breds and the Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream Park West in 2014.
“I know that he likes the surface. I can’t say that about some other surfaces that he runs on, but I can say it about that one,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said.
Mr. Jordan, who has earned in excess of $550,000 during a 23-race career, enters the Millions Classic Preview off a disappointing eighth-place finish in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes on the Pennsylvania Derby card at Parx Sept. 23.
“He had an excuse. When he broke, he broke outward and made hard contact with the horse next to him and cost him position,” Plesa said. “The jockey reacted to him the way you would on most horses, but it didn’t work with him. You take a short hold of him, and he doesn’t like that. He’s a freewheeling horse.”
The 5-year-old gelding, who had previously won and allowance at Parx and finished third in the Iselin (G3) at Monmouth, has breezed twice at Palm Meadows.
“I’m feeling as good as I can going into a race,” said Plesa, who trains Mr. Jordan for his wife, Laurie, David Mellon and Leon Ellman.
Edgard Zayas has the mount aboard Mr. Jordan.
Mar Racing Stable’s Hy Riverside, who captured the 2017 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream after finishing fourth behind Mr. Jordan in the Millions Classic Preview, is entered to seek his first victory in eight starts since that win. The Antonio Sano-trained 5-year-old son of Macho Uno will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.
Zipping, who had won one of seven starts on turf, enters the Millions Classic Preview off three consecutive performances over dirt for owner/trainer Roger Laurin. The 3-year-old gelding captured an Aug. 18 optional claiming allowance race before finishing second in the off-the-turf Bear’s Den Stakes Sept. 24 at Gulfstream. Most recently, the late-developing son of Adios Charlie rolled to a 9 ½-length optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West.
Beneficiary, Jaiden’s Best, Red Crescent and Joshua’s Comprise round out the field.
Mama Joyce Back with Nicks for Millions Distaff Preview
Donald Dizney’s Mama Joyce will seek her first stakes victory and her third-straight win since being reunited with trainer Ralph Nicks Saturday in the $75,000 Millions Distaff Preview at Gulfstream Park West.
The 4-year-old daughter of First Dude broke her maiden for Dizney and Nicks with a 10 ¾-length romp at Gulfstream in August 2015 before being transferred to Midwest trainer Brad Cox. Claimed for $30,000 out of a second-place finish at Churchill Downs in May 2016, Mama Joyce made her way to New York, where Dizney claimed her back for $40,000 June 16 at Belmont Park.
Since being turned over to Nicks, Mama Joyce won an Aug. 11 optional claiming allowance and came right back to win the Sept. 16 Sea of Grass Handicap going away by four lengths.
“She ran well for us early on. Getting her back, she showed me talent in the beginning, so it didn’t surprise me than she ran well,” Nicks said. “It would be nice to get her a stakes win.”
Nicks, who saddled Caledonia Road for a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last Saturday at Del Mar, is also slated to saddle Lucky Switch, who finished a late-closing second in an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Oct. 1.
“Her last race was probably one of her best races, so we’ll see if she’s good enough,” Nicks said.
Tyler Gaffalione has the mount aboard Mama Joyce, while Miguel Vazquez is set to ride Lucky Switch.
Arindel’s Sweet Khaleesi is set to seek her second straight stakes score Saturday in the Millions Distaff Preview. Trained by Stanley Gold, the 4-year-old daughter of Maimonides captured the Sugar Loaf Key Handicap in August after finishing a close second in the Added Elegance Stakes.
Since being transferred to Gold, Sweet Khaleesi has two wins and two seconds in four starts.
“I just trained her and went along with her. When I thought she was fit, I ran her. She was a little short her first race. The second one she got it done,” Gold said. “In a couple of those races it looked like she was having trouble getting hold of the track early and then put in one huge run.”
Emisael Jaramillo has the return mount.
Money or Love, a multiple stakes winner for owner/trainer Anthony Ryan during Gulfstream’s Spring/Summer Meet, enters the Millions Distaff Preview off a second-place finish behined multiple graded-stakes winner Curlin’s Approval in the Barely Even handicap at Gulfstream last time out. Tyler Gaffalione will be back in the irons Saturday.
Stakes winners Who’s the Lady and Liraca, who finished 1-2, repsectively, in the Azalea Stakes on the July 1 Summit of Speed program, are among the leading contenders Saturday in a field that also includes April Gaze, Eva London, Rashette, Yes I’ll Go, Stormy Embrace and Sweet Distinction.
Source: Gulfstream Park West