Gulfstream Park Sprint Preview
GULFSTREAM PARK SPRINT PREVIEW
No trainer likes to draw the rail in a sprint race of any distance or caliber, let alone in a Grade 2 stakes with a horse who has a history of issues at the gate. But when that horse appears to lay over his field, as Soaring Empire does in Saturday's $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, starting from the rail becomes less of a concern.
Despite drawing post 1, Soaring Empire figures to be odds-on to add the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint to his impressive victory here earlier this winter in the one-mile Grade 3 Hal's Hope. A field of eight will contest the Gulfstream Park Sprint, with Sunshine Millions Classic winner Tackleberry likely to be second choice among a group that also includes the Marty Wolfson-trained pair of Gaucho and Coffee Boy, Mannington, Caixa Eletronica, Mad for Smarty, and Guam Typhoon.
Soaring Empire has improved with every start since finishing eighth following a rough trip in the 2010 Florida Derby. A son of Empire Maker owned by Ol Memorial Stable and Clinton Glasscock, Soaring Empire closed out his 3-year-old campaign by winning Monmouth Park's six-furlong Rutgers and finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile after proving a handful to load into the gate.
'He's quirky with starting gates,' said trainer Cam Gambolati. 'I don't know, maybe he's claustrophobic. He will balk a couple of times, but once he's in there he's fine. Nobody wants the 1 hole coming out of the chute, but he won from the 1 hole when he broke his maiden and he can adapt. He's got more speed than people think he's got. Racing luck is the key. You know you're going to have traffic from the rail, but if they force the issue up front it's good for me. The bottom line is I expect him to run very well.'
Tackleberry wheels back in just two weeks off the race of his life, a wire-to-wire 2 1/4-length victory over runner-up Duke of Mischief and the odds-on fourth-place finisher First Dude in the nine-furlong Classic. The win was the fifth in the last six starts for Tackleberry, who also captured Calder's Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap going nine furlongs in gate-to-wire fashion.
Coffee Boy makes his first appearance since upsetting D'Funnybone in the Grade 2 Carry Back at Calder last July, his third win in only five starts. He figures to race forwardly along with stablemate Gaucho, who makes his stakes debut off a second-place finish against allowance company at Calder in his 3-year-old finale.
Guam Typhoon returns from Tampa where he kicked off the new year finishing fourth in the Pelican Stakes. The outing was the just the second in 11 months for Guam Typhoon and his first since extending Musket Man to a half-length decision in Tampa's seven -furlong Super last winter.
On the Florida worktab
Multiple Grade/Group 1 winner HIBAAYEB (GB) (Singspiel [Ire]), a close eighth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), logged three furlongs in :36 over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows on Thursday.
Multiple Grade 2-placed CONVOCATION (Pulpit), fourth in the Woodward S. (G1) last time, went a half-mile in :49.
Over the fast main track at Gulfstream Park, multiple Grade 2 winner D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) worked five furlongs in 1:02. He was last seen trailing the August 28 King's Bishop S. (G1).
Sapling S. (G3) winner MADMAN DIARIES (Bring the Heat) zipped in a bullet :58 1/5. He was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) most recently.
NATIONAL KID (Brz) (Dodge), runner-up in the August 27 Bernard Baruch H. (G2) when last seen, breezed in 1:03 3/5.
DR. ZIC (Milwaukee Brew), the 2010 Madison S. (G1) winner who's gone unplaced in her last three, worked in 1:02 4/5 over the fast main track at Tampa Bay Downs.
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