The top tier of the turf male division has a vacancy sign upon it. With the retirements of multiple grade I winners and Eclipse Award finalists Flintshire and Tourist , there is a clear opening of opportunity waiting for some talent to try and run through.
If what trainer Buff Bradley has seen in the mornings translates once the gates swing open for the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2T) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 14, Gunpowder Farms' Divisidero could be among the first to state his case to take over the division's mantle of leadership.
Unraced since an off-the-board effort in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan (G1T) June 11, Divisidero looks to regain his top-class form when he heads a field of 12 entrants for the 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale over the same Gulfstream turf he broke his maiden on during his debut in February of 2015.
Gulfstream has served as a springboard for the 5-year-old son of Kitten's Joy throughout his career. After his maiden win, Divisidero ran third in that year's Palm Beach (G3T) prior to earning his first graded triumph in the American Turf (G2T) in just his third career outing. Last season, the bay horse hit the board in both the Canadian Turf (G3T) and Appleton (G2T) en route to becoming Gunpowder's first grade I winner with a score in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1T) at Churchill Downs May 7.
Following Divisidero's fifth-place Manhattan run, some mild bone bruising was discovered and the decision was made to let time do its thing in helping him get right. In his last two workouts on the turf, Bradley said regular rider Edgar Prado has jumped off and told him in no uncertain terms that 2017 may be Divisidero's time in the spotlight.
"He really has been training beautifully all the way up to this. He hasn't missed a work," Bradley said. "Prado has told me every work, 'Man, he's getting stronger and stronger.' When we breezed him on the grass two weeks ago, Edgar came back and was like 'He's just a monster.' I like seeing Edgar pumped about him, because Edgar's been on a couple nice horses in his lifetime.
"Last year, I said I thought he had really matured mentally and physically, and I can say that again this year. I can't believe how well he's come back and how strong he is again this year. If he steps up, he's going to be one of the leading candidates in the turf division."
Should Divisidero come back as hoped off the layoff, a return engagement in the Turf Classic would be on the table with the Feb. 11 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1T) the likely prep before then.
The first stage in that plan comes this weekend, however, as the bay runner faces the likes of multiple graded stakes winner Heart to Heart, who ended his 2016 campaign with a win in the El Prado Stakes Dec. 17. The front-running, 6-year-old son of English Channel is unbeaten in three starts over the Gulfstream turf, including victories in last year's Ft. Lauderdale and Canadian Turf.
Lukes Alley took to the Gulfstream turf last year after racing almost exclusively on Woodbine's Polytrack the previous two years, running second in the 2016 Ft. Lauderdale prior to winning Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February. The 7-year-old son of Flower Alley went to the sideline for eight months before finishing fifth in his Nov. 19 return in the Autumn (G2) over Woodbine's main track.
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 14, 2017, Race 10
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo's & up
- 4:34 PM (local)
|1||1Heart to Heart (ON)||Julien R. Leparoux||123||Brian A. Lynch||3/1|
|2||2Night Prowler (KY)||Javier Castellano||119||Chad C. Brown||8/1|
|3||3Diamond Bachelor (KY)||Lane J. Luzzi||121||Patrick L. Biancone||30/1|
|4||4Copingaway (KY)||Jairo Rendon||117||Jaime Mejia||30/1|
|5||5Rose Brier (VA)||Jose Lezcano||121||Jane Cibelli||15/1|
|6||6Lukes Alley (ON)||Paco Lopez||119||Josie Carroll||8/1|
|7||7Divisidero (KY)||Edgar S. Prado||119||William B. Bradley||4/1|
|8||8Almanaar (GB)||Joel Rosario||119||Chad C. Brown||8/1|
|9||9Flatlined (KY)||Joe Bravo||121||Charles L. Dickey||15/1|
|10||10Jay Gatsby (KY)||Luis Saez||119||James A. Jerkens||5/1|
|11||11Macagone (NY)||Corey J. Lanerie||121||William I. Mott||15/1|
|12||12Fire Away (KY)||John R. Velazquez||119||Claude R. McGaughey III||12/1|