Harold Queen's Burning Roma will make his 4-year-old debut Saturday in the seven-furlong, $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap (gr. II). The Kentucky-bred son of Rubiano will start from post seven under Edgar Prado.
After racing out of Anthony Dutrow's barn for his 2-year-old campaign, which included a win via disqualification in the Futurity Stakes (gr. I), Burning Roma wintered at Tampa Bay Downs last year in the care of trainer Heather Giglio. This year, the king of listed stakes races for 3-year-olds last year – he won five such events -- is wintering in South Florida with trainer Bill Mott.
After winning five of six races in listed stakes last year, he closed his campaign with third-pace finishes in both the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) and Jerome Handicap (gr. II) and a second-place finish in the Pegasus Handicap (gr. II). The Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship will mark his first start since that October race and his first start in a sprint since winning the Prince George Park Stakes in his second career start.
Also in the field is Hook and Ladder, who is undefeated in four starts at Gulfstream, including last year's renewal of the Sprint Championship.
"I don't know whether it's because he gets to train at Payson Park or whether he just likes Gulfstream or a combination of both but he's a different horse down here," said trainer John Kimmel.
Hook and Ladder was entered in the Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) on Feb. 10, but Kimmel scratched the horse after heavy overnight rains heading into the race.
"I didn't like the condition of the track that day so I scratched him," Kimmel said. "I didn't want to take any chances especially with this race on Saturday coming up on the schedule. He's been training well at Payson and he worked a half-mile in :50 4/5 on Monday. He's ready."
The nine-horse field for the Sprint Championship will consist of:
1 -- Groomstick Stock's, Carlos Gonzalez, 113
2 -- Thrillin Discovery, Cornelio Velasquez, 111
3 -- Fappie's Notebook, Jorge Chavez, 117
4 -- Dancing Missile, Eibar Coa, 114
5 -- Hook and Ladder, John Velazquez, 119
6 -- Twilight Road, Rene Douglas, 113
7 -- Burning Roma, Edgar Prado, 118
8 -- Binthebest, Jon Court, 113
9 -- Dream Run, Pat Day, 113