Robert LaPenta’s 4-year-old colt Da' Tara made history last spring winning the 140th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park at 38-to-1 while so much attention was focused on Big Brown being eased behind him in his bid to sweep the Triple Crown.
The victory was only the second in Da’ Tara’s eight-race career and on Feb. 28 the son of Tiznow will attempt to win for the first time since in an allowance contest going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park. He makes his first start this year two races prior to the highly-anticipated renewal of the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II).
Da’ Tara has run four times after the Belmont, finishing seventh in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and fifth in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, sixth in the Jerome Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, and third last out in a Churchill Downs allowance Nov. 28.
Da’ Tara faces nine rivals in Saturday’s race with Alan Garcia back in the saddle and is entered as an entry with LaPenta’s 3-year-old Brave Victory, a son of Lion Heart that won a six-furlong allowance over the track Jan. 30. Jockey Julien Leparoux has the mount on Brave Victory.
Another contender in the interesting allowance with Triple Crown history on his resume is Joseph Balsamo’s 6-year-old gelding Sweetnorthernsaint, who went off the lukewarm favorite in the 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), finishing seventh behind Barbaro, and second to Bernardini in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) when Barbaro suffered his tragic injury shortly after the start.
Sweetnorthernsaint was trained through most of his early career by Michael Trombetta, but was sent to trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. at Calder last summer. The son of Sweetsouthernsaint has struggled to get back to his best form, winning one of six starts since then. He comes into Saturday’s race after a third-place finish in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance on Feb. 6. Kent Desormeaux will ride.