Big Year for Prince Arch Begins in Gulf 'Cap

(from Gulfstream Park notes)
Prince Arch embarks on what could be a huge year, believes trainer Kenny McPeek, in Sunday's $250,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

"I think Prince Arch has the chance to be the best turf horse in the nation this year," said McPeek of the multiple graded-stakes winning high weight. "He's developed going from age 3 to 4 and we're using this as a prep for Dubai."

A field of 11 was entered for Gulfstream's most prestigious turf event of the meeting. Prince Arch, drawing post position 2, will be ridden by Brice Blanc.

Prince Arch was second in both the Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) and Caltech Stakes at Gulfstream last year, losing the former to Eclipse Award-winner Kitten's Joy. He would get some revenge in the Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs with a hard-fought victory over yielding ground. Plans now call for the son of Arch to get a two-race head start over his main rival with this Sunday's test and the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) on the March 26 World Cup program.

"He's been training fantastic," said McPeek. "My assistant, Helen Pitts, gets off him grinning from ear-to-ear every time."

Brazilian-bred Gigli, a leading candidate in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, breezed a half-mile in :49 at the Palm Meadows training center Thursday.

"We were very happy with Gigli's work," said Brian Lynch, trainer Bobby Frankel's assistant at the Boynton Beach facility. "If he's going to run well this looks like a good spot for him to do it."

In the Mac Diarmida (gr. IIIT), Gigli was dismissed at better than 5-1 and finished eighth.

"Gigli probably needed that last race," Lynch said of the 7-year-old who was making his first start since last July 17.

While still in his native Brazil, Gigli won the Grande Premio Cruzeiro do Sul (Brz-I) three years ago and made it two in a row with a tally in the Grande Premio Joao Borges Filho (Brz-II). Both those races were at a mile and a half on the turf.

After a nine-month layoff, Gigli made his first North American start in an allowance race at Hollywood and finished second but a half-length to the good of Sarafin, and was then sixth behind Storming Home in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT).

Switched to the turf by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after mixed success on the Triple Crown trail last year, Shadwell Stable's Mustanfar won or placed in four consecutive grass races, winning the 10-furlong Lexington (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park and the 12-furlong Sycamore Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland.

$150,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT, 2:13 p.m. ET), 3 & up, 1 3/8 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Niigon (ON), 111, Robert Landry
2. Prince Arch (KY), 119 Brice Blanc
3. Swagger Stick (KY), 114, Cornelio Velasquez
4. Rio Guapore (BRZ), 112, Rajiv Maragh
5. Host (KY), 115, Javier Castellano
6. Navesink River (KY), 113, John Velazquez
7. Gigli (BRZ), 113, Jerry Bailey
8. Macaw (IRE), 114, Joe Bravo
9. Demeteor (KY), 112, Jorge Chavez
10. Quest Star (KY), 113, Edgar Prado
11. Mustanfar (KY), 118, Jose Santos