Nikki's Sandcastle and Csaba, both seeking a return to winning ways, share co-high weight of 123 pounds in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park March 29.
With an approximate post time of 5:35 p.m. EDT, the 1 3/16-mile Skip Away drew a field of 11 older runners including Stuart S. Janney III's 3-1 favorite Norumbega and Repole Stable's Micromanage, the 4-1 second choice.
Csaba, who is also entered for the main track only in the one-mile turf Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) earlier on the card, was a force to be reckoned with in Florida for trainer Phil Gleaves at the end of 2012 and for much of last season. He twice won the Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Casino & Race Course
and took the Hal's Hope Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream.
But the 5-year-old son of Kitten's Joy
is winless this season for Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff, with a sixth in the Hal's Hope and a troubled eighth in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance at Gulfstream March 1. Manuel Cruz rides the multiple graded stakes winner from post 4.
Though much more successful over his career on turf, Nikki's Sandcastle returns to dirt for the first time since August 2012 in this spot. The winner of the 2013 Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack at Keeneland
, Richard Sherman's homebred Castledale
gelding was third in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT) on turf in January and then fifth in his last start, the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT). Corey Lanerie rides from the 7 hole.
Norumbega, a 4-year-old Tiznow
colt trained by Shug McGaughey, makes his season debut and first start since a runner-up finish 9 1/4 lengths behind Romansh
in the 1 1/8-mile Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack
; Romansh came back March 22 to win the Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) in New York. A two-time allowance winner as a 3-year-old, Norumbega will be ridden by John Velazquez from post 9 under a 119-pound impost.
Micromanage, who drew the far outside under Javier Castellano, is coming off a seventh in the Feb. 22 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
. The 4-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro
has not won since July 2013, but turned in a pair of seconds in minor stakes at Aqueduct and was third in the Discovery at the end of the year. Trainer Todd Pletcher adds blinkers for this start; Micromanage carries 119.
One of interest is 4-year-old Salustio
, champion 3-year-old imported colt in Panama and a grade I winner there. Trainer Eddie Kenneally will saddle the Kentucky-bred Whywhywhy
colt from the rail for his U.S. debut; Julien Leparoux has the mount.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Salustio (KY), J.R. Leparoux, 119, E Kenneally, 12-1
2. War Dancer (KY), J. Rosario, 119, K G McPeek, 15-1
3. Grand Tito (KY), P. Lopez, 119, A Sano, 12-1
4. Csaba (KY), M.R. Cruz, 123, P A Gleaves, 6-1
5. Nevada Kid (KY), L. Saez, 119, N P Zito, 6-1
6. Macho Bull (KY), L. Panici, 117, G Dorochenko, 10-1
7. Nikki's Sandcastle (KY), C.J. Lanerie, 123, D C Kassen, 5-1
8. Joshua's Comprise (FL), F.Z. Maysonett, 117, B R Rose, 30-1
9. Norumbega (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 119, C R McGaughey III, 3-1
10. Sr. Quisqueyano (FL), C. Olivero, 119, L Olivares, 20-1
11. Micromanage (KY), J. Castellano, 119, T A Pletcher, 4-1
Equipment Changes: 8—Joshua's Comprise—Blinkers On; 11—Micromanage—Blinkers On