Bahamian Squall Heads GP Sprint Championship
The seven-furlong sprint also features familiar Florida-bred Fort Loudon, last seen running third to Ron the Greek in the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Classic, and E. Paul Robsham's Travelin Man, who comes off the bench for his first start since losing a nose decision in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth Park last July 29.
Approximate post time for the Sprint Championship, race 9 on a four-stakes day that includes the Donn Handicap (gr. I), is 4:29 p.m. EST. The race will be run immediately following the $300,000 Kitten's Joy Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT), which features 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom and top turf star Point of Entry.
Regular jockey Luis Saez will be back aboard 4-year-old Bahamian Squall for trainer David Fawkes. The Florida homebred son of Gone West won the Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream early in the meet by 3 1/2 lengths over Fort Loudon and finished second by three-quarters of a length to Off the Jak last out in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 29, both races restricted.
Bahamian Squall is a half-brother to Apriority, who went on to rank among the nation's top sprinters in 2011 after winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream.
"We kept him with Florida-breds for his last three races because the right opportunities were there at the right time, but I'm confident that he can be very competitive in open stakes now," Fawkes said. "I also think the seven-eighths helps him as it did with Apriority. He had some excuse for getting beat in his last race. I'm not so sure he was getting a hold of the (sloppy) track and he dropped back a little too far early in the race. It took him awhile to get going and when he did finally it was a little too late, although a good effort "
Jockey Javier Castellano rides Swagger Jack for trainer Marty Wolfson as he turns back a furlong from a pair of impressive allowance scores at a mile, most recently on Jan. 17. The son of Smart Strike came to Wolfson over the summer after racing in Kentucky, Indiana, and Virginia earlier in the season.
"Swagger Jack is just doing so well right now," said Wolfson. "I'd rather the race was a mile for him, but I think he'll do fine at seven-eighths."
Jacks or Better Farm's 4-year-old Fort Loudon will look to avenge Bahamian Squall's Sunshine Stakes victory off his solid effort in the Sunshine Millions Classic. The Florida homebred by Awesome of Course was a star 2-year-old at Calder Race Course & Casino in 2011, winning the Carry Back Stakes (gr. II) there last summer for trainer Stanley Gold before being sent to Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
Fort Loudon has failed to find the winner's circle in six starts since the Carry Back, but he ran a big race to finish second in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course and was second in the Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs before his runner-up effort in the Sunshine State.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle 5-year-old Travelin Man while jockey John Velazquez will ride as he has in all but one of the Trippi runner's 11 career starts. The Kentucky homebred made his first three starts at Gulfstream in 2011 as a 3-year-old, winning his debut, finishing second in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), and winning the Swale Stakes (gr. II). He came back last winter for two more winning trips over the track in an allowance and the Sir Shackleton Stakes.
$150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, approximate post 4:29 p.m. EST), 4YOs & Up, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Swagger Jack (VA), J. Castellano, 117, M D Wolfson
2. Travelin Man (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 117, T A Pletcher
3. Good Morning Diva (KY), C.J. Lanerie, 117, J D Braddy
4. Close It Out (FL), M.R. Cruz, 119, S Towne
5. Fort Loudon (FL), J. Lezcano, 117, N P Zito
6. Bahamian Squall (FL), L. Saez, 119, D Fawkes
7. Fair Whit (KY), J.L. Alvarez, 117, S Parbhoo
8. Big Grandpa (KY), J. Rocco, Jr., 117, D Alvarado
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