Hobeau Farm’s homebred Delightful Kiss will make his first start on grass since May 2007 and use the $150,000 Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT) as a prep for his trip to Dubai next month. The 5-year-old gelding will face 10 older rivals in the one-mile contest Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
Among the major players Delightful Kiss will face are grade III winners Sporting Art and Buffalo Man, and Passager, a group III winner in France who will make his U.S. debut. Also, 5-year-old gelding Vanquisher, who has scored in consecutive starts including the Tallahassee Stakes earlier this month, will look for his first graded stakes victory.
The Canadian Turf is the first of two graded stakes on the Gulfstream program and goes to post just prior to the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Pete Anderson, Delightful Kiss enters off a distant third-place finish in the $1-million OBS Sunshine Millions Classic Jan. 24 over Gulfstream’s main track. The $120,000 in earnings made the son of Kissin Kris a millionaire.
Winner of the Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III), All American Stakes (gr. III), and Hal’s Hope (gr. III) within the past five months, Delightful Kiss has made only six of his 24 lifetime starts on grass. His only victory came in his second career start when breaking his maiden at Calder Race Course. Regular rider Calvin Borel will get the mount.
Delightful Kiss is expected to make the trip to Dubai next month for the March 28 Godolphin Mile (UAE-I) on World Cup day.
Despite coming off a more than eighth-month layoff when finishing well up the course in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs, Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Sporting Art is expected to take much of the wagering action. The 4-year-old son of Doneraile Court, who began his career in England before shipping to the U.S. for his sophomore campaign, won the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream and Calder Derby (gr. IIIT) last spring before finishing fifth as the favorite in the Arlington Classic.
Kent Desormeaux will ride Sporting Art for Christophe Clement.
Ol Memorial Stable and Clint Glasscock’s Buffalo Man has lost four straight since taking the Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) last summer at Monmouth Park. The 5-year-old El Prado colt has been well back in both starts this season, including an eighth-place finish in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Jan. 10. Eibar Coa, the rider for that race, will be back in the irons.
Perhaps the most intriguing entrant is Gary Tanaka’s Passager, who has made all 25 of his starts in England and France with a consistent 5-4-7 record to show for it. A 6-year-old French-bred gelding, Passager won the Prix Perth (Fra-III) as a sophomore and has been group-placed four other times. He will be ridden by Edgar Prado for the first time.
Also of note is Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, who tries grass for the first time in 14 starts. Hey Byrn was10th in the Sunshine Millions Classic and prior to that won an optional claimer at Gulfstream to start his 4-year-old season.
$150,000 Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:34 p.m.), 4-Year-Olds & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Rogue Victory (KY), 116, Rene R. Douglas
2. Sporting Art (KY), 122, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Hey Byrn (FL), 122, Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Buffalo Man (ON), 122, Eibar Coa
5. Delightful Kiss (FL), 122, Calvin H. Borel
6. Passager (FR), 120, Edgar S. Prado
7. Vanquisher (FL), 120, Alan Garcia
8. Just as Well (KY), 118, Julien R. Leparoux
9. Twilight Meteor (ON), 120, John R. Velazquez
10. Bujagali (KY), 116, Elvis Trujillo
11. Buddy's Humor (KY), 120, Jose Lezcano