Its the busiest week of the Gulfstream Park season this week. Seven stakes races and the inaugural running of the Super Track Racing Series are on the schedule. Saturday will be the richest day in Florida racing history (aside from Breeders Cup Day), with more than $2 million in purses up for grabs. The 50th anniversary running of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) and the $600,000 Super Track Racing Series (six races) top the days activities. Also on tap that day are two other graded stakes: the $200,000 Orchid Handicap (G2) and the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G3); and two Florida-bred events: the $100,000 Equalize Stakes and the $100,000 One Dreamer Stakes.
The action starts Friday with the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders Cup Sprint Championship (G2) and ends Sunday with the $250,000 Pan American Handicap (G2).
The Sprint Championship at seven furlongs on Friday is expected to mark the return of Trippi, who enjoyed a sensational 3-year-old season here last year when he went from maiden to graded stakes winner in a matter of six weeks. The 4-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher broke his maiden in January, won an allowance in February, then took the Grade 3 Swale in March and the Grade 3 Flamingo in April.
Later in the season, Trippi re-affirmed his love for the seven-furlong distance when he won the Tom Fool (G2) and the Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont. He last started in the Breeders Cup Sprint (G1) on Nov. 4, when he ran ninth.
The undercard stakes on Florida Derby Day are all highly competitive. The seven-furlong Swale will again spotlight some very talented 3-year-olds, including Hutcheson Stakes (G2) winner Yonaguska and California invader Dwildcat.
Long-winded fillies and mares get their chance to shine in the Orchid Handicap at a mile and a half on turf. Its likely to attract Innuendo, winner of the Grade 3 The Very One Handicap here last month; and Prospectress, who hasnt started since winning the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder on Dec. 30.
New to Florida Derby Day are events for Florida-breds: The Equalize and One Dreamer, both scheduled at one mile on the grass.
The Equalize could mark the long-awaited return of Vals Prince, 9-year-old son of Eternal Prince who hasnt raced at Gulfstream since the Breeders Cup Turf in 1999. Last started in November, he ran third in the Red Smith Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct.
The One Dreamer for fillies and mares is likely to come up a super competitive event with the likes of local favorites such as Silver Rail, Capital Request and Laurica in the field.
Distance turf runners get their chance on Sunday in the Pan American Handicap at a mile and a half. Its likely to rematch Subtle Power and Whata Brainstorm, separated by just a neck at the finish of the Gulfstream Park Breeders Cup Handicap (G1) last out on Feb. 10.
Florida Derby doings
Monarchos, one of the favorites for Saturdays Florida Derby, was on the track at Gulfstream on Sunday for his final tune-up for the 3-year-old showcase event. With jockey Jorge Chavez aboard, Monarchos worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5, seven furlongs in 1:27. "I was very satisfied with the workout," trainer John Ward said. "It was what I wanted, and hes on schedule for Saturdays race." A $170,000 purchase at the Fasig Tipton February sales at Calder last year, Monarchos has won both his starts in impressive fashion at Gulfstream as a 3-year-old. He won his maiden victory by six lengths in a seven-furlong race clocked in 1:22 1/5 (second fastest of the meeting) back on Jan. 13. He then came back a 4 Â¾-length winner of an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 3. Trainer Tim Hamm had his stakes-winning colt Cee Dee on the track here Sunday for his final major workout before the Florida Derby. With Richard Migliore in the saddle, Cee Dee was clocked in :593/5 handily for five furlongs. (It was the best of 25 horses working that distance). He went three furlongs in :362/5, galloped out six furlongs in 1:123/5, seven furlongs in 1:262/5. "It was an excellent work," Hamm said. "Rich (Migliore) rode him in the workout and will ride him again in the Florida Derby. That was his last serious work before the race." The winner of the Ohio Juvenile at Thistledown last year, Cee Dee is trying to rebound from a disappointing seventh place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1) here on Feb. 17. Prior to that 11/16-mile test, Cee Dee was third in the 11/8-mile Tropical Park Derby (G3) on the turf at Calder on Jan. 1 and a close-up third, beaten a length, in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 20. "After the Fountain of Youth, we analyzed the race," Hamm said, "and determined that Cee Dee ran the third fastest last 16th. He should like the added distance of the Florida Derby. Thats why were running him." Trainer Paul McGee had Dream Run out for his last major trial before he runs in Saturdays feature. Dream Run, an exercise boy in the saddle, was clocked in 1:012/5 breezing for five furlongs over the local track. "It was a real good work and we were very happy with it," said Eddie Mathis, assistant trainer to McGee, whos in Kentucky. "That was his last hard work. Hell train regularly until the race." McGee hadnt decided whether to run Dream Run in the Florida Derby or the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (G3) on March 10. He elected several days ago to shoot for the "Run for the Orchids" and its $1 million pot. The bay colt has run four times, winning two races and being second twice. Runner-up in his maiden try at Churchill Downs last summer, he broke his maiden there in November, then won his seasonal debut here at Gulfstream on Jan. 6. He was second behind Heros Tribute and ahead of Grade 1 winner A P Valentine in an allowance race here in his last start Feb. 17. All those races were in sprints City Zip, third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, was on the track at Hialeah for a workout on Sunday. The four-time stakes winner worked five furlongs in 1:00 breezing, galloped out six furlongs in 1:133/5 in his final prep for the Florida Derby. "He had a good work at Hialeah," trainer Linda Rice said from her New York headquarters. "Itll just be maintenance work from now until the race. His foot is fine. Hes in good shape. Corey Nakatani is coming in from California to ride him in the race on Saturday." City Zip won the Hopeful Stakes (G1), the Sanford Stakes (G2), the Saratoga Special (G2), and the Tremont Stakes (G3) last year. He was first in the Futurity (G1) at Belmont Park, but was subsequently disqualified from first and placed second in that race. City Zip has run twice at Gulfstream this year. He was a fast closing second in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) on Jan. 27, third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in his last start Another Florida Derby starter, the stakes-winning Talk Is Money, was also on the track at Hialeah for a Sunday workout. Trainer John Scanlan had the $1.8 million yearling purchase work six furlongs with Mike McCarthy in the irons. Talk Is Money was timed in 1:123/5 handily, went in :492/5 for a half mile, 1:012/5 for five furlongs, and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:262/5. "I had him break from the gate Thursday and he broke OK," Scanlan said. "I worked him this morning and was very satisfied with his work. This will be the first time that McCarthy rides him in a race, but the two seem to get along fine in the morning. All I want in the Florida Derby is for this horse to get a clean break." Talk Is Money broke his maiden by 9Â¾ lengths in his Laurel, Md., debut Dec.16, then was a Â¾-length winner of the Miracle Wood Stakes there Jan. 27. Scanlan shipped him south to run in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and Talk Is Money lost all chance at the start when he dwelt. He finished 10th in the 11-horse field. "I broke him out of the gate at Hialeah on Thursday," McCarthy said. "He broke cleanly and had no problems at all. I thought he worked well this morning. Im very happy John (Scanlan) is giving me a chance to ride him in the Florida Derby." Team Flint had Outofthebox, one of the expected favorites in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), on the track for a five-furlong workout Saturday. The dark bay or brown colt was timed in :592/5 handily in what was his last serious trial before next Saturdays 11/8-mile test for 3-year-olds. With jockey Jerry Bailey in the saddle, Outofthebox went in :352/5 for three furlongs, galloped out six furlongs in 1:142/5. "It was more a maintenance work than anything," said Steve Flint, son of trainer Bernie Flint. "Were very happy with the work. So was Jerry. Hes fit and ready. Well gallop him up to the race." Outofthebox finished second as the favorite in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1) in his last start here Feb. 17. He might have won but for a bad start. Outofthebox popped the gate, fell back on his hind legs, and Bailey thought it cost him five lengths. He was beaten 2Â½ lengths by winner Songandaprayer, in the 11/16-mile test. "They let Songandaprayer set his own pace in that race," Flint said.