Lochte won the 2014 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. 
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Lochte won the 2014 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
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Lochte Wheels Back in Gulfstream Turf 'Cap

Fourteen days after victory, runner tackles race he won last year Feb. 7.

Fresh off a victory in the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) just fourteen days earlier, Lochte looks to continue his winning ways Feb. 7 in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT).

The 1 1/8-mile grass race is one of six stakes, four of them graded, on tap at Gulfstream Park Saturday, including the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I). It is part of the Jockey Club Tour on Fox Sports 1, a 5:30-7:30 p.m. EST telecast that will include the Donn and the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes (gr. I) from Santa Anita Park. The latter race features a rematch between 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome  and 2013 champion 2-year-old Shared Belief, and also includes grade I winner Hoppertunity.

Owned by Carolyn Vogel's Crossed Sabres Farm, Lochte will be making his third start of 2015 in the Gulfstream Park Turf, a race he won at odds of 39-1 last year to give trainer Marcus Vitali and jockey Orlando Bocachica their first grade I victories.

A gelded 5-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro , Lochte ran third in the Jan. 10 Fort Lauderdale (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream prior to his rallying head victory over Old Time Hockey at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 24. Both races came at 1 1/16 miles.

"I ran him over there just for a prep for this race," Vitali said. "It was all based on how he came out of the race. He came out of it phenomenal. I gave him a few days off after he ran, and when he came back off the race his exercise girl told me he's hair, teeth and eyeballs. We're going to try to defend our title."

Four of Lochte's five career victories have come in eight starts at Gulfstream, where he has finished off the board just twice with one second and one third. He won September's The Vid Stakes and placed in both the Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) and Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) last spring.

"I hope it all goes well. He's a horse for course. He loves this track," Vitali said. "I'm excited. He came back off the race good and he's training good. If he stays as good as he is now going into the race, I feel we'll definitely be a presence in there."

Paco Lopez, aboard for the Tampa Bay win, returns to the irons in place of Bocachica, Lochte's regular rider who is recovering from a Jan. 14 spill at Gulfstream. They will carry 117 pounds from post 8 in the nine-horse field.

Another grade I winner in the Gulfstream Park Turf is Imagining , trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for owner-breeder Phipps Stable. The 7-year-old son of Giant's Causeway  was a closing second in the race last winter, using it as a springboard to win the Man o' War (gr. IT) in May at Belmont Park.

This will be the seventh straight grade I appearance for Imagining, who most recently finished seventh in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). He was beaten for the third consecutive time by 2014 champion turf horse and champion older horse Main Sequence, including a head loss at Saratoga Race Course in the Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT).

"He's doing good. We gave him a little freshener and he's been doing really, really well," McGaughey said. "We ran really well at Saratoga and just got beat. Maybe he went a little quick the first part of it, but I'm sure there will be some horses in here that will be pretty competitive."

Highweight at 120 pounds, Imagining departs post 3 under jockey Joel Rosario.

Well-traveled import Mshawish  can extend his win streak to three races in the Gulfstream Park Turf. Another son of Medaglia d'Oro, the 5-year-old ended 2014 with a two-length victory in the 7 1/2-furlong El Prado and opened 2015 beating Grand Tito by a neck in the 8 1/2-furlong Fort Lauderdale (gr. IIT), both at Gulfstream.

Al Shaqab Racing's Mshawish will be making his sixth start since coming to North America after racing in France, Dubai, and Hong Kong. Meet-leading jockey Javier Castellano rides from the rail.

"He needs to be covered up. We've known that all along, but sometimes it's easier to do than others," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He's starting to fulfill the promise that we thought he had. He's a very talented horse."

Also entered in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap are 2013 Tropical Park Derby winner and grade II-placed Amen Kitten; 2014 Miami Mile (gr. IIIT) winner Grand Tito; Sunshine Millions Turf winner Manchurian High; grade II-placed contenders Slumber  and War Correspondent ; and Golden Rifle, making his stakes debut for trainer Marty Wolfson.

Entries: Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1T)

Gulfstream Park, Saturday, February 07, 2015, Race 12

  • Grade IT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $300,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 5:28 PM (local)
11Mshawish (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano118Todd A. Pletcher-
22Amen Kitten (IL)Rafael Manuel Hernandez115Wesley A. Ward-
33Imagining (KY)Joel Rosario120Claude R. McGaughey III-
44Grand Tito (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Lezcano115Gustavo Delgado-
55Manchurian High (FL)Luis Saez115Lilli Kurtinecz-
66War Correspondent (KY)Joe Bravo115Christophe Clement-
77Slumber (GB)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez115Chad C. Brown-
88Lochte (KY)Paco Lopez117Marcus J. Vitali-
99Golden Rifle (KY)Edgard J. Zayas113Martin D. Wolfson-