Donn Handicap Kicks Off Race for Leading Older Horse

The race for 2004's leading older horse gets underway with the Feb. 7 $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. The Donn Handicap is expected to lure a field of six or seven of the top handicap horses in the nation, led by Sackatoga Stable's classic winning champion Funny Cide.

The Barclay Tagg-trained Funny Cide, tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile Donn by romping to a five-length score in a Jan. 10 allowance race over the Gulfstream oval. Jose Santos was back in the boot for that race, and will ride in the Donn.

Challenging Funny Cide will be Edmund Gann's Medaglia d'Oro, a multiple grade 1 winner for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Bobby Frankel. The 5-year-old son of El Prado has been training steadily in California for his first start since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita last October. He will be ridden by Jerry Bailey, who just won a record seventh Eclipse Award.

Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens will likely play a pair of aces in the Donn, saddling both Joseph Shields Jr.'s Puzzlement and Martin Schwartz's Bowman's Band. The two prepped for the Donn in the grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap on Jan. 3, when Puzzlement beat his stablemate by a neck.

Others who might make the starting gate for the Donn are Richard Simon's The Judge Sez Who, third in the Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions Classic, and Mount Joy Stables' Predawn Raid, who won the Dec. 27 Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III) at Calder.