Graded stakes winner Wynn Dot Comma will get a sharp challenge from a couple of Todd Pletcher-trained rivals, Deputy Storm and Limehouse, in the 51st running of the $150,000 Hutcheson (gr. II) Saturday, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.Eleven will contest this year's Hutcheson, which precedes the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream. The two races will be televised live on the ESPN cable network during a show that airs from 5 to 6 p.m. EST. The Hutcheson, carded as the 10th event, has a post time of 5:12 p.m. The Fountain of Youth is slated to go as the 11th race at 5:44 p.m.
Wynn Dot Comma will seek to add to an already glittering career record. The colt by Struggler made the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Jan. 10 his fifth career win in six starts. His only loss came when he was second to unbeaten Fountain of Youth contender Sir Oscar in the Jack Price Juvenile Stakes at Calder. Trainer Marty Wolfson has given Joe Bravo a return call.
Pletcher, who has a raft of upwardly mobile 3-year-olds, saddles two in the Hutcheson. However, Dogwood Stable's Limehouse and James C. Spence's Deputy Storm will race as separate betting interests.Deputy Storm has not raced since he was second in the Sapling Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth on Aug. 9. Before that, the Forestry colt won the Tyro Stakes. Jerry Bailey takes the mount for the first time.Limehouse, a Grand Slam colt, won three straight to start his career last year, taking the Three Chimneys Stakes and Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in the spring. In his most recent outing, Limehouse was third behind Eurosilver and Tiger Hunt in the Lane's End Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland in October. John Velazquez rides.Another key rival is Blushing Indian. The Cherokee Run colt came out smoking on Jan. 7 as he won an allowance event at Gulfstream by more than seven lengths in fast time. Dale Romans trains Blushing Indian, who was second behind Tiger Hunt in the Sanford Stakes (gr, II) at Saratoga last July. Jose Santos rides.Saturday's 12-race card will also feature the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and four allowance events for 3-year-olds, carded as the first, fourth, sixth and ninth races. The Old Hat at six furlongs will be topped by Bruce Lunsford's Madcap Escapade, who made a big impression when she broke her maiden by 10 lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 4.In the first race, for non-winners of two at a mile and 70 yards, the Nick Zito-trained Birdstone, one of the trainer's main Triple Crown hopes this year, makes his 2004 debut as he prepares for the classics. Birdstone has not run since he won the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont on Oct. 4. His rivals include Smoocher, who won the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine in October.
The ninth-race field includes Shaniko, a Pletcher-trained son of A.P. Indy whose maiden score at Gulfstream on Jan. 8 drew attention. John Velasquez takes the mount again on a colt the trainer considers one of his top Classic hopes.$150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 5:12 p.m. EST), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey Name
1. Silver Rapt (FL), 116, Manoel R. Cruz
2. Limehouse (FL), 122, John R. Velazquez
3. Weigelia (FL), 116, Cecilio Penalba
4. Saratoga County (KY), 116, Eibar Coa
5. Harbour Gate (KY), 116, Cornelio H. Velasquez
6. Deputy Storm (KY), 118, Jerry D. Bailey
7. Wynn Dot Comma (FL), 122, Joe Bravo
8. Blushing Indian (KY), 116, Jose A. Santos
9. Ghost Mountain (KY), 118, Edgar S. Prado
10. Bourbon N Blues (FL), 116, Julio A. Garcia
11. Bachelor Blues (KY), 122, Pat Day