Midnight Cry Stables’ Einstein, a two-time winner of the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT), won’t go for the three-peat in that race, but will challenge the other grade I race that weekend, the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) on Gulfstream main track Jan. 31.
The 6-year-old Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck finished sixth in the Donn last year behind Spring At Last before returning three weeks later to win the Gulfstream Park Turf. He had won that race in 2006 and finished third in 2007.
This year, that race has been moved to Feb. 1, precluding an attempt at both. Einstein earned a graded-stakes victory on dirt in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 28 in his last start, and trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi will point to Gulfstream’s premier race for older horses knowing it will be a tough challenge.
“The dirt situation with him isn’t so much that he can run on either surface,” she said after breezing Einstein an easy five furlongs in 1:03 over the main track Jan. 18.
“He loves Churchill Downs. He skips over that track. It’s a different kind of surface down here. It’s sandier and deeper and he doesn’t get over it as well. It will be a challenge.”
Pitts-Blasi said Einstein would be nominated to both races just in case plans change. She realizes the cache that would come from being a grade I winner on two surfaces – not to mention the increase in the horse’s value as a stallion. Regardless of the outcome, she’s proud of what Einstein has already accomplished.
“He’s six years old and still sound, thanks largely to running on the turf most of his life,” said Pitts-Blasi. “Grass racing has been much easier on him. The win in the Clark already helps him as a stallion. He’s proven himself and proven what he is: a sound, hard-running horse.”
Pitts-Blasi may be best known for saddling future 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin for his smashing career debut for Midnight Cry at Gulfstream early that season. After a majority interest was sold to Jess Jackson and partners, the horse was transferred to trainer Steve Asmussen. There are no 3-year-olds at Curlin-level in the barn this year, Pitts-Blasi says.
“Most of my 3-year-olds are all a little behind the eight-ball,” she said. “I’ve got a couple Unbridled’s Song colts and a couple nice fillies. They’ve taken their time coming around.”
One of those Unbridled's Song colts is Booksense, a half-brother to stakes winners Hurricane Bertie and Allamerican Bertie. He has yet to post a workout this winter.