Finale, who disappointed as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) last month, attempts to rebound when he heads a field of 11 in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes Dec. 18 at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile Dania Beach, which was carded for 3-year-olds back in January, is now a turf race for juveniles since Gulfstream began its current meet a month earlier than normal. Post time for the Sunday feature is set for 4:45 p.m. EST.
Finale won three consecutive turf races prior to the Nov. 5 BC Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs, including victories in the Continental Mile at Monmouth Park and the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine. But he had a rough trip in the Breeders’ Cup en route to finishing seventh as the 4-1 choice. The son of Scat Daddy is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
Pletcher has assigned John Velazquez to ride Finale, who is the 122-pound high weight. He was bred in Kentucky by Susan Bunning and is out of the Lively One mare Twinkle.
Woodbine shipper Excaper fared much better in the BC Juvenile Turf, finishing second at odds of 33-1 for trainer Ian Black. The son of Exchange Rate was 2 1/4 lengths back of the winner, Wrote, after taking a narrow lead into the stretch. Excaper, a homebred of Richard Kaster, was runner-up to Finale in the Sept. 17 Summer Stakes.
Excaper has been working at Payson Park Training Center in South Florida since the Breeders’ Cup. He will be ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Also coming out of the BC Juvenile Turf is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Coalport, who finished 11th during a troubled trip. The Kitten's Joy colt was runner-up in Keeneland’s Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) in his previous start, and broke his maiden in his debut at Arlington Park. Trainer Wayne Catalano assigned Julien Leparoux to ride.
Another top contender is Waterford Stable’s Summer Front, who has won both of his starts. The War Front colt made a winning debut on the turf at Belmont in September, and then scored an overnight stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 6. Christophe Clement trains Summer Front, who will get the services of top rider Ramon Dominguez.
Florida-breds Italo and Burning Time, the one-two finishers of the Nov. 21 Arthur Appleton Juvenile Turf for state-breds, are also part of the field.
$100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (Race 10, 4:45 p.m.), 2YO, 1 Mile (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Csaba (KY), J Castellano, 116, P A Gleaves
2. Excaper (KY), E Wilson, 116, I Black
3. Empire Builder (KY), A A Gallardo, 116, L Duco
4. Brother Pat (KY), R Silvera, 116, S Dwoskin
5. Burning Time (FL), L Saez, 120, D Fawkes
6. Vee One Rotate (KY), M R Cruz, 116, K G McPeek
7. Coalport (IL), J R Leparoux, 116, W M Catalano
8. Finale (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
9. Summer Front (KY), R A Dominguez, 120, C Clement
10. Italo (FL), J Sanchez, 116, W A Ward
11. Starforce (KY), J L Castanon, 116, M Nihei Main Track Only Silver Menace (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, J P DiVito