Ballast a Heavyweight in Contentious Ft. Lauderdale

Richard C. Thompson’s Irish-bred 6-year-old Ballast, in top form after an impressive score in the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder on Dec. 2, will be among the favorites in a wide open field of 12 set for the $100,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf course Saturday.

Trained by Graham Motion, Ballast is a highly consistent chestnut gelding by Desert Prince with a 3-1-2 record in seven starts last year, punctuated by an unplaced effort in the Woodbine Mile (Can-I) in Canada, a one-turn race that may not be his best game. Jockey Rafael Bejarano gets the return call.

Ballast shares the high weight assignment of 122 pounds with Gin and Sin.

The veteran Dreadnaught ships in from trainer Tom Voss’ Atlanta Hall farm in Monkton, Md., for his first start since a neck loss when third in the Laurel Turf Cup over a “yielding” course at Laurel Park in late November. He shipped to Calder again for the W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. II) in mid-December but was scratched when the race was forced off turf.

Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn rides the 7-year-old Lac Ouimet gelding who won the Calder McKnight in late 2004 and ran a big race this spring when second by a head in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico in May behind Better Talk Now. Dreadnaught suffered another tough loss when second by a neck in the Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT) at Saratoga in August.

An intriguing contender in the Ft. Lauderdale is Charles and Susan Harris’ 7-year-old Saint Stephen, with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer Christophe Clement following his victory last out in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) on the new Cushion track at Hollywood Park in December.

However, Saint Stephen’s reputation was made on turf where he has made 20 of his 23 starts, winning six with four seconds and two thirds. The son of Saint Ballado finished a close-up fifth in this race last year and fourth in the Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) when he was beaten only 1 ½ lengths.

$100,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (Race 8, 4:40 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Gin and Sin (FL), 122, Kent Desormeaux
2. Ballast (IRE), 122, Rafael Bejarano
3. Minister's Joy (KY), 118, Manoel Cruz
4. Ecclesiastic (KY), 118, Javier Castellano
5. Giant Wrecker (KY), 118, Eddie Castro
6. Classic Campaign (KY), 118, Edgar Prado
7. Dreadnaught (KY), 118, Jean-Luc Samyn
8. Kiss the Kid (KY), 118, Rosemary Homeister, Jr.
9. Interpatation (KY), 118, Tom Turner
10. Old Dodge (BRZ), 120, Cornelio Velasquez
11. Saint Stephen (KY), 120, John Velazquez
12. Prince Alphie (KY), 120, Joe Bravo

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