Continental Red, winning the NTRA Great States Championship Classic.

Continental Red, winning the NTRA Great States Championship Classic.

Jeff Coady

Continental Red Hopes to Duplicate Success on East Coast

Edited release from Gulfstream Park
Continental Red is considered the best of the California-bred handicap horses and he will try to extend that supremacy to the East Coast in Saturday's $1 million Ocala Breeders Sales Classic at Gulfstream Park on Sunshine Millions Day.

The Classic is one of eight unique races matching Florida-breds against California-breds worth an aggregate $3.6 million that will run on Saturday. Four of the races are scheduled at Gulfstream and four will be run at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. near Los Angeles.

Last year, Continental Red raced mainly on turf and won the San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita. He also was second in the San Marcos Handicap (gr. II), the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. II), and the Sunset Handicap (gr. II) in California.

Last fall, trainer Ian Jory decided to switch Continental Red to the main track and he was second, beaten a head, despite having a troubled trip in the California Cup Classic Handicap at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Jory then shipped Continental Red to Sam Houston Park in Texas and he won the NTRA Great States Championship Classic in his last start on Dec. 7.

"He's done nothing wrong since I switched him to the dirt," Jory said. "How many times do you have a chance to go for $1 million?" he said of starting the horse in the Classic.

Continental Red was flown to Gulfstream on Wednesday and had an uneventful trip, according to Jory

"He shipped well," Jory said. "I think my horse does better when he travels. The traveling seems to limber up his muscles. And traveling to run in a $1 million race makes the trip sweeter. Fact is, he shipped so well I took him out for a morning jog this morning. He's training very well and went five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 last Saturday at Hollywood. I look for him to run another good race on Saturday."

Jory doesn't think Continental Red will have any trouble with the racing surface at Gulfstream. "I think Gulfstream's surface is similar to the one at Sam Houston and he had no trouble there. I've raced a few horses at Gulfstream and I'm not worried about the track. I think he'll like it."

Patrick Valenzuela, one of the top jockeys on the West Coast, has ridden Continental Red in his last two starts and will be flying in from Santa Anita to do the same again at Gulfstream on Saturday.