Say a Novena won 3 races in 2011, including the Brandywine Stakes.

Say a Novena won 3 races in 2011, including the Brandywine Stakes.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

3YOs Get Started in Old Hat, GP Derby

Grade III Old Hat for 3YO fillies, while Gulfstream Park Derby will go for first time

Awesome Belle, Bet to Win, and Say a Novena, all consistent performers until their most recent stakes efforts, will try to take a step back in the right direction when they contest the $100,000 Old Hat (gr. III) on New Year’s Day at Gulfstream Park.

The first stakes race of 2012 for 3-year-old fillies, the six-furlong Old Hat will share top billing with the inaugural Gulfstream Park Derby for males going 1 1/16 miles. Both stakes are part of Gulfstream’s 11-race Sunday program.
The Old Hat drew a field of eight, while the Gulfstream Park Derby has 11 entrants. Post times for the respective races are 4:17 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. EST.
Rick Shanley’s Say a Novena was 10th in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, while Jacks or Better Farm’s Florida homebred Awesome Belle was 12th. Say a Novena won three previous races during her juvenile campaign, including the Brandywine Stakes at Parx Racing in her start before the Breeders’ Cup. The daughter of Songandaprayer was undoubtedly compromised by an outside post in the BC Juvenile Fillies, as she was in contention for six furlongs before weakening badly.
Based in Florida for Eddie Plesa Jr., Say a Novena will be ridden by Elvis Trujillo. They will break from post 2.
Awesome Belle was stuck further on the outside in the BC Juvenile Fillies and was never in contention as a longshot. The Awesome of Course filly won the state-restricted Florida Stallion My Dear Girl Stakes at Calder in her previous start for trainer Stanley Gold. She has produced a 2-1-2 record from seven tries. Luis Saez will have the mount.
Curtis Green’s homebred Bet to Win won her first two starts before finishing 12th in the Oct. 30 Pocahontas (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Pulpit scored both of her victories on Polytrack, including an allowance at Keeneland Oct. 16. Trainer James DiVito has assigned Javier Castellano to ride.
Quick Flip and Sabrina's Dance, both undefeated as juveniles, are also Old Hat contenders. Quick Flip is perfect in three starts for Teresa Pompay, including the Dec. 10 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in her last start. Sabrina’s Dance has won each of her two starts, both of them at Calder.
In the Gulfstream Park Derby, Michael Dubb’s Ancient Rome will carry top weight of 120 pounds based on his victory in the Dec. 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes on opening day at Gulfstream. The Roman Ruler colt, who won that six-furlong contest by a nose as the favorite, will try two turns for the first time and will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. once again. The Tony Dutrow trainee has worked twice since that effort.
“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” said Dutrow. “He certainly has the talent, and if he can get the distance, he’s going to be a useful 3-year-old. It’s all about experimenting here (at the distance). If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just campaign him as a sprinter.”
Robert LaPenta’s Casual Trick, a highly-touted Bernardini  colt, should go off as one of the favorites. Trained by Nick Zito, Casual Trick broke his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths going one mile at Churchill Nov. 18. He worked five furlongs in a bullet :59 3/5 Dec. 24 at Palm Meadows.
“I just thought right off the bat (I would like) to see how good he is,” Zito said. “I think he’s really good. He’s had a lot of good workouts and, more important, I think his development looks terrific and he’s extremely well bred.”
Bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish, Casual Trick was purchased by Whitehorse Stable for $425,000 from the Lane’s End consignment to the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is out of the Red Ransom mare Casual Look.
Another horse to watch is West Point Thoroughbreds’ Gold Megillah, who defeated maidens by 18 1/2 lengths at sloppy Churchill on Nov. 16 in his fourth try. That race was at 1 1/16 miles, as was his seventh-place finish in the Bourbon (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in October.

$100,000 Old Hat (gr. III, Race 9, 4:17 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 6 Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Soft Whisper (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, D R Vance
2. Say a Novena (KY), E Trujillo, 120, E Plesa Jr.
3. Sabrina's Dance (FL), P Lopez, 116, N Canani
4. Sacristy (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, W M Catalano
5. Bet to Win (KY), J Castellano, 116, J P DiVito
6. Awesome Belle (FL), L Saez, 120, S I Gold
7. Yara (FL), J R Velazquez, 120, J Garoffalo
8. Quick Flip (KY), R Maragh, 120, T M Pompay

$100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby (Race 10, 4:45 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. King Kid (KY), C J Lanerie, 116, D L Romans
2. Reveron (KY), F Jara, 116, A C Bezara
3. Gold Megillah (KY), E S Prado, 116, H G Motion
4. Nachas and Joy (KY), R Maragh, 116, J P DiVito
5. Casual Trick (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, N P Zito
6. Silver Menace (KY), J Castellano, 116, K Ritvo
7. Ancient Rome (KY), J Rocco Jr., 120, A W Dutrow
8. Politicallycorrect (KY), E Trujillo, 116, W A Ward
9. Ravelo's Boy (KY), J Sanchez, 116, M J Azpurua
10. Rex's Last Tour (FL), D Centeno, 116, B R Rose
11. Yourhonorandglory (PA), K Carmouche, 116, J C Servis