Gulfstream Report: Offlee Wild Returns to Work

(Edited track report)

Offlee Wild, the lightly raced winner of the recent Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III), was out for a five-furlong morning workout Thursday morning. The T. V. Smith-trained 3-year-old was clocked in 1:00 3/5 breezing and Smith said he is on schedule for a start in the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 15.

"Mark (jockey Mark Guidry) was on him this morning," Smith said. "It was just a stroll in the park. A maintenance move. He's doing very well and if everything continues to go all right then his next start will be in the Fountain of Youth."

Offlee Wild went into the Holy Bull an unknown quanity. After finishing fourth in his career debut at Keeneland, he broke his maiden by five lengths at Churchill Downs on Oct. 27, then was second behind the speedy Rojo Toro in a 6 1/2 furlong allowance race at that same track on Nov. 17.

Offlee Wild was making his first start going around two turns in the Holy Bull and he turned in a powerful effort. Breaking from post 9, he stalked the pace three wide, rallied to gain the lead inside the eighth pole and was fully extended to hold off the challenge of Powerful Touch to win by a head.

After the win, Smith said, "I never had any doubt he would go a distance of ground. Fact is, I think he will go a lot farther than he went today. He's the best horse I've ever trained."

Trust N Luck Preps for Fountain of Youth, Sir Bear Retired
Trainer Ralph Ziadie has his "ups and downs" these days. He's up because his stakes-winning 3-year-old colt Trust N Luck continues to train well for his forthcoming start in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream. Ziadie is "down" because his popular old 10-year-old gelding Sir Bear has officially been retired.

Ziadie had Trust N Luck work a mile at Calder Race Course Wednesday morning and the double stakes-winner was clocked in 1:48 3/5 breezing. "It was a little bit faster than I wanted him to go," Ziadie said. "I just wanted a two-minute lick. But he's doing well and if everything goes all right then we'll run him in the Fountain of Youth.

"Right now I want to take it one race at a time. If he runs well in the Fountain of Youth then we would run him in the Florida Derby ($1 million Grade 1 stakes on March 15) and, if everything went well, then we'd see about the Kentucky Derby (May 3)."

Trust N Luck has won four of his eight career outings and two of them came in stakes races. He won the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder on Oct. 12 and in his last race scored a smashing 11-length triumph in the Whatapleasure Stakes at Calder on Dec. 14.

Ziadie, who has trained horses for 47 years in both his native Jamaica and the United States, hasn't had a Kentucky Derby horse yet but he won the Jamaica Derby, his country's most important race, and ran Takhoda Hills in the Belmont Stakes. He also saddled Sir Bear to win three Grade 1 Stakes and therein lies his "down" mood.

"Sir Bear is the horse that made me the trainer I am today," he said. "He's the horse that put me on the map. It'll be very difficult to ever replace him. He was an amazing horse and I love him very much. I hate to see him go but it looks like it's his time to live the easy life."

Sir Bear earned over $2.5 million during his career and was one of the most popular horses to ever race at Gulfstream. He had four stakes wins over the track. He won the 1998 and 1999 runnings of the Broward Handicap (gr. III), the Gulfstream Park Handicap in 2001, and the Skip Away Handicap (gr. III) in 2002.

Sir Bear also won two other Grade 1 races, the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct and the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Other stakes victories include the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), Prairie Meadows' Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III), the Texas Mile (gr. III), and the Thistledown Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III).

Sir Bear's owners, Barbara and Al Smollin, are having a barn built for him at their home in Southwest Ranches.

Pletcher Optimistic on Chimichurri in Old Hat Stakes

Trainer Todd Pletcher is running Chimichurri in Saturday's $100,000 Old Hat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream and is optimistic about her chances of winning the six furlong event.

"She's been training excellently at Palm Meadows," Pletcher said. "Johnny Velazquez will ride her on Saturday and you can say I'm optimistic about her chances of winning the race."

Chimichurri broke her maiden by seven lengths at Saratoga last summer then was shipped to the Meadowlands where she won the six-furlong Jersey Jump Stakes on Sept. 14. Then then was third, beaten a length, as the favorite in the six and a half-furlong Astarita Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park on Oct. 13. In her last start, Chimichurri won the one mile Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct on Nov. 3.

Much Improved Gal O Gal Moves Up in Herecomesthebride
Gal O Gal is currently riding a three-race winning skein but will moving up in company when she starts in Sunday's $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Gulfstream.

"She's really gotten good since I've run her on the turf," veteran trainer Vinnie Blengs said. "She's won her last three races and has been impressive in doing it. I know she's been meeting much lesser than she'll meet on Sunday but she's good now and getting better and the only way to find out how good is to run her in it."

Gal O Gal broke her maiden on the dirt in her first try at Colonial Downs last year, then was off the board in two more tries on the dirt before Blengs switched her to the turf at Calder in mid-November. She finished fourth in that allowance race but came right back to win for a $40,000 claiming tag there on Dec. 6 then won an allowance race at that track on Dec. 30. In her seasonal debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 22, she came from to win by 3? lengths when racing under a $80,000 claiming tag.

Backstretch Appreciation Day on Feb. 11
The 10th annual Gulfstream Park Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic is Tuesday, February 11, 2003. The picnic is for Gulfstream backstretch employees and their families and will be held in the grandstand corporate tent from noon to 4 p.m. There will be free food, games and prizes.

"Last year we had over 500 men, women and children come for a full day of fun in the sun," said Danny Perlsweig, coordinator of the event. "The crowd consumed over 1000 pieces of chicken, 500 hot dogs and hamburgers, 1000 cans of soda, along with pounds of potato salad, macaroni salad, and cole slaw. There was also a variety of desserts.

"Kids are welcome and they participated in games, won prizes and had their faces painted by a clown. Our raffle drawing consisted of many prizes, including an 18 speed bicycle, a 13" color television, jackets, shirts, caps, sports equipment, clock radios, towels, umbrellas, and tote bags. This year we hope to make the picnic bigger and better than ever."

From The Workout Desk

Gulfstream Park:

Trainer Carl Nafzger had a couple of his stakes-winning fillies out for morning trials on Thursday. He worked his stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Westerly Breeze a half-mile in :49 breezing and the 4-year-old filly Softly five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 handily. Nafzger isn't sure when Westerly Breeze will make her 2003 debut but plans on running Softly, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Handicap in November, in the $!00,000 Sabin Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 8.

Palm Meadows:

Trainer John Terranova had his graded stakes winner Gander work five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 breezing from the gate.