Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ War Correspondent ends an 8 ½-month break between races when he returns to the site of his last start in Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado at Gulfstream Park.
The fourth running of the 7 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up is one of four $100,000 stakes on the 11-race program and brings War Correspondent back to the course where he won the one-mile Appleton (G3) on the Florida Derby (G1) undercard March 28.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the 5-year-old bay son of War Front has never been worse than third in eight lifetime starts, the first four of them coming in France before coming to the U.S. Purchased privately from owner-breeder Joe Allen, he won a Monmouth Park allowance last September, his North American debut, off a 14-month layoff.
Second by a neck in the Autumn Stakes (G2) at Woodbine last November, War Correspondent was third by a length behind Grade 1 winners Mshawish and Slumber in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) Feb. 7.
“He’s doing well,” Clement said. “He’s been training well, and we are excited to see him back.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, aboard in the Appleton, gets a return call in the El Prado on War Correspondent, who shows a steady string of works at Payson Park in Indiantown for his return. He was scratched from a start in the May 15 Dixie (G2) at Pimlico, where he was the program favorite.
“He just wasn’t doing as well,” Clement said. “He’s training very well at Payson Park, he did very well at Gulfstream last winter and we have Johnny to ride him, so it’s exciting.”
Copper Water Thoroughbred Company’s Reporting Star seeks his first win at Gulfstream in the El Prado. The Pat Parente-trained Florida-bred was fourth by neck as the favorite in the Sunshine Millions Turf Preview Nov. 7 at Gulfstream Park West last time out.
Winner of the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes (G2) in August at Woodbine, his last time at a sprint distance, Reporting Star was second in the Sunshine Millions Turf Jan. 17 and the Tropical Turf Handicap (G3) during his South Florida stay last winter. He shares the 123-pound topweight with War Correspondent and 2015 King Edward Stakes (G2) winner Tower of Texas.
After making his first six starts on dirt or Polytrack, Ivan Dalos’ Victory Exchange is set for his turf debut in the El Prado. A 5-year-old son of Exchange Rate is coming off a neck allowance victory going six furlongs Nov. 15 at Woodbine, his return from a six-month layoff.
“I thought it was a big, big race off the layoff,” trainer Josie Carroll said. “We’ve always liked this horse. We’ve just always for various reasons had to stop on him. Now he’s doing well and hopefully we can move forward.”
Victory Exchange has gone as far as seven furlongs once, when he was fifth in the Vigil Stakes (G2) last May at Woodbine. In his only other stakes try he was second in the 2014 Jacques Cartier Stakes, a head in front of Vigil winner Really Sharp.
“I think he’s going to just love the distance,” Carroll said. “We’ve been looking to get him on the turf for quite a while, it just never happened. He trained really well over it at Woodbine and for various circumstances we were unable to get him in up there, so now we have the opportunity. I don’t think he’s a real dirt horse, so if we’re going to be in South Florida I think that’s our best option.”
Owner and trainer David Jacobson has a pair of 7-year-olds breaking side-by-side in Slim Shadey, a multiple graded stakes winner, and Plainview, an 11-time winner who he claimed Oct. 17. The two European-bred geldings have combined to make 94 career starts with 19 wins and more than $1.5 million in earnings.
Also entered are Aztec Brave, a multiple stakes winner trained by Joe Sharp; stakes-placed Res Judicata; Siete C, Starship Zorro and Macagone.
Source: Gulfstream Park