A robust field of 13 is set to head postward at Gulfstream Park for Saturday's 2005 edition of the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III). Multiple stakes winners Dynever and Purge lead a quality group of entrants drawn for the 1 1/8 mile affair, each looking to start the New Year on a high note
Catherine Wills' 5-year-old homebred Dynever, a runaway winner of the Aventura Stakes over the track and distance as a 3-year-old, looks to add to his millionaire's bankroll and notch his first win since taking the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita in March of 2004.
Co-owned with Wills by Peter Karches, the Kentucky-bred son of Three Chimneys' stallion Dynaformer
enters off a second-best showing in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood, and boasts a strong work (4f, Fast, 50.00, B, 3/13) at Payson Park on Monday.
Trained by Christophe Clement, and set for the services of Jose Santos, Dynever will leave from the 12th spot from the rail carrying the highweight of 117 pounds.
Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin's Purge returns to his best distance, victorious twice last year over nine furlongs in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga and the Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont.
Conditioner Todd Pletcher hopes the son of Claiborne Farm stallion Pulpit
gets some early pace to run at from the like of early-running Badge of Silver and the speedy Nick Zito-trained Commentator.
Bred in Kentucky by Glory Days Breeding, Purge sports impressive earnings of $589,734 and four wins from nine career starts. He and 2004's leading rider by money earned John Velazquez will exit from the post 10 carrying 116.
Also weighing in at 116 will be 5-year-old Added Edge. The winner of the Nashua Stakes (gr. III) at two--though only a $4,000 Keeneland September yearling sale graduate--looks to continue his winning ways having finished of 2004 with a score in the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile Stakes at Hoosier Park in November.
The son of Lane's End stallion Smart Strike
races for Team Valor Stables, Michael Tabor, and Robert Wilson, and is trained by Dale Romans. Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms Bloodstock, the chestnut horse will bring his earnings over half-a-million with a good showing. He should be up near the front with the other speedsters.
Tracy Farmer's Commentator makes for an intriguing entry into the handicap ranks, though four of his five wins have come in allowance company. A seven-length victor in the Perryville Stakes at Keeneland last fall, the son of WinStar Farm stallion Distorted Humor
has won all five of his starts by an astonishing combined 40 lengths.
Bred in New York by Michael Martinez, Zito stretches his 4-year-old gelding out to nine furlongs for the first time and Pat Day will ride. The pair will join the battle and look to go wire-to-wire from post 5.
Badge of Silver with Jerry Bailey aboard, and the Judge Sez Who with Kieren Fallon in the irons round out the notables in the field.Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III), 3-Year-Olds and Upward, 1 1/8 miles, $100,000, 5:14 PM EDT.
PP -- Horse, weight, jockey
1--The Judge Sez Who, 114, Kieren Fallon
2--Country Judge, 113, Javier Castellano
3--Smooth Lover, 113, Carlos Olivero
4--Contante, 112, Edgar Prado
5--Commentator, 115, Pat Day
6--Badge of Silver, 115, Jerry Bailey
7--Added Edge, 116, Patrick Husbands
8--Deputy Lad, 113, Eduardo Nunez
9--Wake At Noon, 113, Herberto Castillo
10--Purge, 116, John Velazquez
11--Collateral Damage, 112, Brice Blanc
12--Dynever, 117, Jose Santos
13--Alleged Ruler, 111, Chris DeCarlo