Midnight Cry Stables’ Einstein won the 2006 edition of the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT) and was a close-up third to Jambalaya last year. In this year’s $350,000 edition, the son of Spend a Buck returns to the grass after a sixth-place finish over dirt and faces the likes of Dave, Shamdinan, and Zann.
The Feb. 23 Gulfstream Park Turf, a 1 3/8-mile event, has drawn a field of 10 older horses, and all but one are coming into the race off another turf event.
Einstein, trained by Helen Pitts, was a tired sixth in the Feb. 2 Donn Handicap (gr. I). Previously, he returned to racing with a wire-to-wire victory in a one-mile turf allowance Jan. 11 after eight months on the sidelines. Bred in Brazil by Fazenda Mondesir out of the Ghadeer mare Gay Charm, the 6-year-old contender last drilled a quick five furlongs in :59.80 Feb. 18, in what the trainer termed “one of the best workouts he’s ever had.” The time was second fastest of 24 works recorded at that distance on the day.
One horse sure to give Einstein a run for his money is Triple B Farms’ Shamdinan, second to Eclipse Award winner English Channel in the Oct. 27 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park last time out. Bred in France by the Aga Kahn, Shamdinan shipped to the United States last August and won the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) after running in Europe. A son of Dr. Fong out of the Dr Devious mare Shamdara, he never missed the board in his first four starts, including a close-up third in the Prix du Jockey Club Mitsubishi Motors-French Derby (Fr-I).
Also tackling Einstein again will be Godolphin Racing’s Palace Episode, a group I winner who takes on the longest distance he’s ever run. A 5-year-old son of Machiavellian, the Saeed Bin Suroor trainee arrived in the US last year and has finished in the money in three of his four races on firm turf since last June. He started this season with a third-place finish behind Einstein in the Jan. 11 allowance event.
“He’s a really tough horse to spot in the right race, but at a mile and an eighth or shorter he just hasn’t been able to get over the hump,” said Rick Mettee, assistant trainer for Godolphin. “He won (the grade I Racing Post Trophy) overseas… he looks like he should like the distance.”
Two trainers – Barclay Tagg and Kiaran McLaughlin – will send out two runners each from their respective stables.
Tagg’s leading contender is Partingglass Stable and Three Colleens Stable’s 7-year-old Dave, an Ends Well gelding whose last effort was a fourth-place finish in the Dec. 15 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder. Beaten only two lengths in that start, Dave was coming off a solid victory in the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct Nov. 10. Tagg’s other runner is Joseph Joyce’s Cougar Bay, a 5-year-old Daylami gelding whose tune-up for this race was a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream Jan. 13.
McLaughlin’s top starter is Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Zann, a 5-year-old son of Dynaformerwhose last two efforts were photo-finish losses in the Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in early October and the Citation Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park Nov. 23. Zann makes his first start for McLaughlin’s barn after running 14 times in California for trainer Michael Machowsky, stretching out past the 1 1/16-mile distance for the first time. McLaughlin also saddles Zabeel Racing International’s 7-year-old Stream of Gold. The Rainbow Quest gelding was second in the W. L. McKnight and runner-up to English Channel in the 1 ½-mile Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park two races before.
Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song, Phipps Stable’s Dancing Forever, Godolphin Racing’s Palace Episode, and Equinox Inc.’s Notable Guest complete the field.
$350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (gr. I, race 9, approximate post 5:15 p.m. EST), 1 3/8-miles for older horses, turf
*all runners carry 123 pounds
PP, Horse, Age, Jockey
1. Dave (NY), 7, Joe Bravo
2. Thorn Song (KY), 5, Kent Desormeaux
3. Zann (KY), 5, Elvis Trujillo
4. Einstein (BRZ), 6, Jose Lezcano
5. Dancing Forever (KY), 5, Rene Douglas
6. Stream of Gold (IRE), 7, Eddie Castro
7. Shamdinan (FR), 4, Julien Leparoux
8. Palace Episode (KY), 5, John Velazquez
9. Notable Guest (KY), 7, Manoel Cruz
10. Cougar Bay (IRE), 5, Eibar Coa