Tale of Ekati, off since winning the Hill ‘N’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) by disqualification last November, will make his return to the racetrack in the $150,000 Richter Scale Sprint (gr. II) Feb. 14 at Gulfstream.
The seven-furlong Richter Scale will be Tale of Ekati’s first time sprinting since Sept. 15, 2007 when he won the Futurity (gr. II) at Aqueduct. Five rivals will do battle with the Charles Fipke homebred, who finished fourth in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and sixth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The Richter Scale will be race 4 on the Gulfstream card and is set to go to post at 2:42. p.m. EDT.
In the Nov. 29 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, Tale of Ekati crossed the wire three parts of a length in back of Harlem Rocker after dueling through most of the final furlong, but Harlem Rocker was eventually disqualified because of interference in upper stretch. It was the second consecutive graded stakes score for the son of Tale of Cat, who captured the Jerome Handicap (gr. II) in October at Belmont. He also won the Wood Memorial (gr. I) during his ambitious 3-year-old campaign.
In his final preparation for the Richter Scale, Tale of Ekati worked five furlongs at Gulfstream Feb. 8, with clockers getting him at 1:00.60. Trainer Barclay Tagg, who admitted seven furlongs is not Tale of Ekati’s best distance, said the bay colt would remain in Florida through the winter and could be aimed for the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) March 14 before shipping back to his home base in New York.
Edgar Prado, aboard for the Cigar Mile victory, will get the mount.
Edmund Gann’s Ikigai could present the toughest obstacle for Tale Of Ekati. The 4-year-old Whywhywhy colt has won two in a row, most recently scoring an impressive victory in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector (gr. III) Jan. 17 at Gulfstream. Before that, Ikigai won four of five sprints at Calder Race Course for trainer Marty Wolfson, and overall is 5-0-0 from eight lifetime starts – all at six furlongs or less. Regular rider Jermaine Bridgmohan will be in the saddle.
The other graded winner in the field is Three Diamonds Farm and partners’ Now a Victor. The 5-year-old Yankee Victor colt won the nine-furlong Discovery Handicap (gr. III) back in 2007 – his final start before being shelved for a year. The Michael Trombetta trainee returned this past November to win an optional claimer at Aqueduct, but his 2009 debut was an inauspicious one, as he finished 12th in the Hal’s Hope Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Jan. 3. This time, Julien Leparoux picks up the mount.
$150,000 Richter Scale Sprint (gr. II, Race 4, 2:42 p.m.), 4-Year-Olds & Up, 7 Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ling Ling Qi (KY), 118, Elvis Trujillo
2. Tale of Ekati (KY), 122, Edgar S. Prado
3. Bold Start (KY), 120, Manoel R. Cruz
4. Now a Victor (KY), 122, Julien R. Leparoux
5. Ikigai (KY), 122, Jermaine V. Bridgmohan
6. How's Your Halo (FL), 120, Juan C. Leyva