The Spectacular Bid Stakes has traditionally been the first stakes of the Gulfstream Park meet for 3-year-olds. After a change in the meet schedule, it is now the opening day stakes for 2-year-olds.
A field of eight was drawn for the $100,000 Spectacular Bid, which kicks off the 87-day Gulfstream meet Dec. 3 in South Florida. After beginning its meet in early January since 2002, Gulfstream will now begin its stand a month earlier after a date swap with Calder Casino & Race Course, which wraps up its Tropical Park meet Dec. 2. Gulfstream will hold live racing Thursdays through Sundays in December (except for Christmas) and Wednesdays through Sundays for the rest of the meet that concludes April 8.
The six-furlong Spectacular Bid has a scheduled post time of 4:33 p.m. EST. The lone graded stakes winner in the field is Vexor, but on paper it looks like a very competitive race.
Gold Mark Farm’s Vexor won the six-furlong Nashua (gr. II) in October at Belmont Park for his second victory. The Jon Kimmel trainee enters the race off a ninth-place finish in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs. Javier Castellano will have the mount on the Florida-bred son of Wildcat Heir, who broke his maiden at Saratoga in the summer.
“He’s a horse that has a particular dislike for ‘off’ racetracks. If you look at his two races where the tracks were muddy or sloppy, like the Hopeful or the Breeders’ Cup races, he didn’t even try,” Kimmel said. “It’s unfortunate. His races on either side of those races were all good.
"I thought he recovered extremely quick (from the Breeders' Cup). By the time I got back to the barn, he seemed to be very happy. It didn’t take him a lot of time to cool out, that’s for sure. After the Breeders’ Cup race, I sent him back to Gold Mark Farms, where he’s been training. We sent him right to Florida instead of shipping him from Churchill Downs all the way back to New York.”
While Vexor is expected to be near the pace, another main contender, Luke of York, should be closing hard at the end. Also bred in Florida, the son of Put It Back has rallied to win by a nose in both of his starts, including the Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes Oct. 15 on Polytrack. Owned by George Michaels and trained by Jimmy DeVito, the colt will be making his first start on dirt. Rajiv Maragh has the call.
Another stakes winner is Maestro Racing Stable’s For Oby. The son of With Distinction scored in the state-restricted Jack Price Juvenile Stakes at Calder Nov. 12, prevailing by a half-length after a stretch duel. That was his second victory from five starts—all of them coming at Calder.
One of the expected pacesetters will be Ancient Rome, who wired a field of maidens by 7 3/4 lengths Oct. 22 at Delaware Park in his second try. The Roman Ruler colt shipped to local Palm Meadows after that win, where he has worked three times for owner Michael Dubb and Tony Dutrow.
Shipping in from Woodbine is William Sorokolit’s homebred Town Prize, who has won two of three starts in Canada. The Speightstown colt tallied in first-level allowance company Oct. 12, also at six furlongs.
$100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes (Race 9, 4:33 p.m.), 2YO, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Jordan's Image (FL), D Centeno, 116, A Quiroz
2. Rex's Last Tour (FL), F Jara, 116, B R Rose
3. Vexor (FL), J Castellano, 122, J C Kimmel
4. Blings Express (FL), P Lopez, 116, T E Hamm
5. Luke of York (FL), R Maragh, 120, J P DiVito
6. For Oby (FL), J A Garcia, 120, P Maestre
7. Ancient Rome (KY), J Rocco Jr., 116, A W Dutrow
8. Town Prize (KY), L Saez, 116, D D Banach