The $100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT) not only drew a full field, but many of the entrants are recognizable names with both turf and dirt experience. It should make for an interesting race, as a field of a dozen will do battle in the 1 1/16-mile event Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park.
The biggest name in the field is Preston Stable’s Flat Out, who will be making his turf debut. The 6-year-old son of Flatter emerged as one of the top handicap horses last year after winning the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) by 6 1/2 lengths in July, finishing second in the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes (both gr. I) at Saratoga, and a posting victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). He went off as the favorite in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) but finished fifth.
“We’ve thought about trying him on turf for some time,” said trainer Scooter Dickey. “We worked him on turf at Churchill last spring and he handled it just fine. We were deciding whether to run him in the Stephen Foster or the Firecracker and decided on the Stephen Foster (sixth last June).
“We worked him on the turf here and decided on this race for a combination of reasons. We still want to try him on the turf and the timing is right to get to the Donn Handicap (gr. I, Feb. 11). If we waited and ran him in the Sunshine Millions (Classic on Jan. 28) it would probably be too quick back to make the Donn.”
Alex Solis will keep the mount on Flat Out, who has earned more than $1.3 million in his 14-start career.
Mambo Meister has notched all but two of his 11 lifetime wins on dirt, but finished third in this race in 2010. He was runner-up in his final two starts of 2011 at Calder. Joe Bravo will ride the three-time graded stakes winner for trainer Phil Gleaves.
Santiva will make his third career start on turf. He enters off a narrow allowance defeat on turf Dec. 17 at Gulfstream going one mile. On the Triple Crown trail in the early part of last year, his biggest win came in the 2010 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). Jesus Castanon will have the mount for Brian Walsh, who is the fourth person to train the now 4-year-old colt.
Uptowncharleybrown will be making his turf debut. The 5-year-old horse will look to break a seven-race losing streak, which dates back to last February.
The favorite might wind up being Resolute Group Stable’s Teaks North. The 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet established himself as a top turf horse last year when posting a 25-1 upset victory in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT). He went on to another major score in the United Nations Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park in early July, and also won the grade III Monmouth Stakes during a season in which he earned more than $800,000.
Teaks North gets another campaign going in the Fort Lauderdale, a race trainer Justin Sallusto hopes will set him up for a more lucrative spot two weeks later in the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Jan. 28. Jockey Juan Leyva gets the call on the gelding, as he makes his first start since a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Another top contender is Black Rock Stables’ 4-year-old Silver Medallion with jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Badge of Silver was impressive winning the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) last out at Calder on Dec. 2 after a good third-place finish in the Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs in early November. Overall on turf Silver Medallion is 3-2-1 from seven starts.
$100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 4:45 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Uptowncharlybrown (KY), R Maragh, 117, E J Coletti Sr.
2. Santiva (KY), J L Castanon, 117, B P Walsh
3. Guys Reward (KY), D Centeno, 117, D L Romans
4. Yummy With Butter (ON), L P Lopez, 121, Y Belsoeur
5. Mutual Trust (GB), J Lezcano, 123, W I Mott
6. Mambo Meister (KY), J Bravo, 117, P A Gleaves
7. Teaks North (FL), J C Leyva, 123, J Sallusto
8. Flat Out (FL), A O Solis, 119, C L Dickey
9. Hollinger (ON), J R Velazquez, 117, R L Attfield
10. Silver Medallion (KY), J Castellano, 121, T A Pletcher
11. Hoofit (NZ), E S Prado, 117, H G Motion
12. Kindergarden Kid (KY), J R Leparoux, 121, B Tagg Main Track Only Cool Blue Red Hot (KY), M R Cruz, 117, A J Penna Jr.
Flatter This (KY), L Jurado, 119, K O'Connell