Gulfstream News & Notes



Trainer Todd Pletcher sent 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo through an easy half-mile breeze at Palm Meadows Sunday morning, the colt's second work since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs in November.

Repole Stable's undefeated son of Indian Charlie completed the half-mile in 49 3/5.

'I thought he worked excellent,' Pletcher said. 'Last week, he just had an easy three-eighths, and I was actually surprised how much he moved forward off of just that one easy work.'

Uncle Mo, who has won his three lifetime races by a combined 23 1/4 lengths, is widely considered the early favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) and is working towards his 2011 debut.

'His work this morning was pretty much a textbook half-mile,' Pletcher said. 'He went nice and easy and galloped out really strong. He came back not tired at all. He'll likely go another half-mile next week.'

Pletcher also indicated that WinStar Farm's Rule -- third behind Giant Oak and Morning Line in Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap -- exited the race in fine fashion.

'He actually came out of the race exceptionally well,' he said. 'No current plans for him, but we'll talk it over and come up with a plan.'

A possible up-and-coming stakes horse for WinStar Farm and Pletcher also came out of his race on Saturday well.

'Cal Nation came out of his race well,' said Pletcher of the 3-year-old Distorted Humor colt who was impressive in breaking his maiden at first asking in Saturday's eighth race. 'It's a little late [for him to get onto the Kentucky Derby trail]. We'd have to make up a lot of time. I think we'll just take the conservative route with him.'

Zito Duo Exit Donn In Good Shape

Trainer Nick Zito reported Sunday that Morning Line and Fly Down came out of Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap in fine form.

Morning Line, who was ridden by John Velazquez, finished a very game second behind late-closing Giant Oak, despite heavy pressure from California shipper Square Eddie, who faded to last in the nine-horse field.

'He laid it down. It's sad they had to come 2000 mile to basically act as a rabbit. It's hard, because the race would have been different all the way around,' said Zito, lamenting the impact on Square Eddie's presence had on Morning Line. 'Morning Line really ran great.'

Fly Down, a slight 5-2 favorite ridden by Julien Leparoux, was never a factor in the 1-1/8-mile race while finishing fifth under high weight of 122 pounds.

'Fly Down just got started too late. He only started to run the last eighth of a mile. He only came with his run in the last eighth,' said Zito of Fly Down's 2011 debut. 'He hadn't run since the Breeders' Cup, and that was a tough race.'

Zito said he would talk to the owners about where Morning Line and Fly Down would race next, but the Hall of Fame trainer did leave open the possibility that both could end up running in the Dubai World Cup.

Coffee Boy & Gaucho Breeze for Gulfstream Sprint

Trainer Marty Wolfson has a pair of nominees for Saturday's $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2) in Gary Barber's 4-year-old Coffee Boy and Peachtree Stable's 4-year-old Gaucho, and both turned in workouts Sunday morning at Calder Race Course.

Coffee Boy earned the 'bullet' for a half-mile in 48 1/5 while Gaucho breezed his half in 50 2/5. Coffee Boy is a son of Yonaguska that hasn't run since posting back-to-back victories in the $85,000 Unbridled Stakes and $200,000 Carry Back Stakes (G2) at Calder, the latter on July 10 when he defeated heavy favorite D'Funnybone in second.

'There was really nothing physically wrong with him after that,' said Wolfson recently. 'There just wasn't any particular target I had in mind for him and he was going into a growth spurt. So I thought it was a good time to let him develop.'

Gaucho is a son of Ghostzapper that won three straight working through his conditions at Calder over the summer and finished second last out as the favorite in a 'three other than' allowance there on Dec.26.

Leading the probable field for the Gulfstream Sprint will be Ol Memorial Stable's 4-year-old Soaring Empire, impressive winner of the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap over Rule and Morning Line going a mile last out on Jan. 8 for trainer Cam Gambolati.

The Gulfstream Sprint on Saturday will be followed by the filly and mare companion test on Sunday, the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) at 6 1/2 furlongs with Alex Rankin's 6-year-old mare Tar Heel Mom among the choices. The daughter of Flatter won the Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) on Jan. 15 for trainer Stan Hough and worked a solid five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 Sunday morning at Palm Meadows.

Wolfson has a pair of nominees for the Hurricane Bertie in Farnsworth Stable's pair of 4-year-old filly Bronx City Girl and 5-year-old mare Jehan, but notably absent from the roster is Carolyn Vogel's 7-year-old mare Jessica Is Back, second by a nose last out in the $200,000 Sunshine Million Filly & Mare Sprint for Wolfson.

'She was going to run one more time,' said Wolfson after sending out Farnsworth's 5-year-old mare Cherokee Queen to score in Saturday's $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (G3). 'But they decided to breed her (Jessica Is Back) on an early cover to Smart Strike.'

A Florida-bred daughter of Put It Back, Jessica Is Back is a veteran of 48 career starts and scored the biggest victory of her career last summer at Calder winning the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap on July 10, the day Coffee Boy won the Carry Back. Farnsworth claimed Jessica Is Back for $50,000 at Aqueduct in April of 2009 and she retires with earnings of $836,765.

Vogel purchased Jessica Is Back privately two nights after she finished ninth with a troubled trip in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. She was consigned to the Fasig-Tipton November sales, but did not meet her reserve and Vogel got her for a reported $475,000.



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