Recent grade III winner Giant Wrecker takes on grass course specialist Silver Tree as part of a contentious field of nine old horses entered for the $125,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) over one mile at Gulfstream Park Sunday.
The Appleton is co-featured on the Gulfstream card along with the Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares, which drew 2006 Eclipse Award winner Wait a While.
Edward P. Evans' Giant Wrecker comes into the Appleton after scoring a hard-fought head victory in the Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream on Feb. 3. Jockey Javier Castellano gets a return call for trainer Mark Hennig. The 5-year-old homebred chestnut by Giant’s Causeway appears to be getting better with age.
Peter Vegso's Silver Tree is more than familiar with the Gulfstream course with three victories from five starts for trainer Bill Mott. However, the 7-year-old homebred by Hennessy will be best remembered for finishing second to Miesque’s Approval in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream last winter with Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey aboard in his last ride.
Silver Tree has plenty of credentials with career earnings of $1.15 from a record of 28-8-7-4. After being upset in the Sunshine Millions, he ran another good one when third behind English Channel and Miesque’s Approval in the 2006 Canadian Turf. Silver Tree makes his first start since a close-up fourth-place effort in the TriState Handicap at Mountaineer Park on Sept. 2.
Moyglare Stud Farm’s 6-year-old gelding Steel Light will be the big question going into the Appleton with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard. Steel Light makes his first start since capturing the Nearctic Handicap (Can-II) at Woodbine on Oct. 23, 2005, for trainer Christophe Clement.
A Kentucky homebred son of Stravinsky, Steel Light tipped his class when finishing third behind Leroidesanimaux and Silver Tree in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) that summer at Saratoga. He also had an allowance tally over Icy Atlantic at Belmont prior to the Woodbine race after launching his career in Ireland with trainer Dermot Weld.
Competing the field for the Appleton are Joseph Allen’s Ecclesiastic, Alnoff Stable’s Old Dodge, Robert Abbo Racing Stable’s Better Than Bonds, Wertheimer et Frere’s Tiganello, Amy Tarrant’s Kiss the Kid and Slverton Hill Farm’s Gin and Sin.
$125,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:54 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Silver Tree (FL), 118, Edgar S. Prado
2. Steel Light (KY), 117, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Ecclesiastic (KY), 113, Eddie Castro
4. Giant Wrecker (KY), 116, Javier Castellano
5. Old Dodge (BRZ), 116, Mark Guidry
6. Better Than Bonds (FL), 114, Christopher P. DeCarlo
7. Tiganello (GER), 116, John R. Velazquez
8. Kiss the Kid (KY), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
9. Gin and Sin (FL), 114, Rafael Bejarano