Munnings Makes 4YO Debut at Gulfstream
Munnings , who established himself as one of the nation’s top 3-year-old sprinters a year ago, will make his first start as an older horse against a capable group in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II) on Feb. 13.
Winner of the 2009 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) and Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), both seven-furlong sprints in New York, Munnings will return to his favorite distance against nine rivals in the Sprint Championship. Javier Castellano will have the mount for the first time for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Munnings has been grade I-placed five times in his 10-start career, including third-place finishes in his last three starts. Most recently, he was four lengths back to champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy in the Oct. 3 Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont. This will be the first start in Florida for the son of Speightstown , who also finished third to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I).
Owned by Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, Munnings has earned more than $600,000 and has been off the board just once in his life. Bred in Kentucky by Dan Tayloe and Glencrest Farm, he is out of the Holy Bull mare La Comete.
Munnings will not have an easy time as he faces rivals that include the late Edmund Gann’s uncoupled entry of Motovato and You and I Forever, both accomplished 5-year-old graded stakes winners for trainer Marty Wolfson. Elvis Trujillo is named to ride Motovato and Eddie Castro on You and I Forever.
A son of Proud Citizen , Motovato won the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) at Calder on Dec. 26 after wheeling back from a good runner-up effort going two turns in the Oct. 17 Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) behind Mambo Meister with trouble in the race.
You and I Forever, a son of A.P. Indy out of grade I winner You, finished a game second by less than three lengths behind Quality Road in the one-mile Hal’s Hope Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Jan. 3, an effort that became even more flattering when Quality Road romped in track-record time in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) last weekend. You and I Forever won a seven-furlong allowance race at Calder by five lengths last July in his first start for Wolfson.
The Sprint Championship, which is scheduled to go to post at 5:14 p.m. EST, also includes the third-place finisher from the Hal’s Hope, Congressional Page, as well last out winners Inkado and Solar Flare.
Earlier on the program is the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares. Zayat Stables' Kays and Jays ships in from California after finishing a close-up fifth last out in the Dec. 26 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, beaten only three lengths for it all by Evita Argentina going seven furlongs after dueling for the lead from the start. The daughter of Macho Uno ran well to finish second in the Azalea Stakes (gr. III) at Calder last summer in a previous foray to Florida. Jose Lezcano will ride for Mike Mitchell.
Kays and Jays will face nine, including the top three finishers from the six-furlong Sugar Swirl Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Jan. 9. Tom Walters’ Pretty Prolific won the Sugar Swirl by a head over Joseph Sutton’s Warbling with Alex Rankin’s Tar Heel Mom another nose back in third after holding a 1 1/2- length lead in mid-stretch as the lukewarm favorite.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez will ride Pretty Prolific for trainer Jimmy Baker after her big stretch charge to score in the Sugar Swirl. The daughter of Lion Heart is a confirmed closer and ran a very big race last summer to finish second behind Flashing in the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
$125,000 Hurricane Bertie (gr. III, Race 7, 4:12 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (Dirt)
$150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs (Dirt)
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