Hal's Hope, one of four grade I winners in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Hal's Hope, one of four grade I winners in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Four Grade I Winners To Clash in Gulfstream Park Handicap

A field rich in talent and accomplishment guarantees Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. I) will be the best race of the year so far for older horses.

The field of five has everything - grade 1 winners, Classic winners, Gulfstream Park winners - and the wagering will reflect the wide-open nature of this 1 1/4 mile Gulfstream Park 'Cap.

American Halo will be the decided longshot in a field that includes four outstanding runners in Red Bullet, Mongoose, Sir Bear and Hal's Hope.

The morning line favorite at 6-5 is Stronach Stables Inc.'s Red Bullet. In his 2002 debut, Red Bullet was second, a half-length behind Sir Bear in the Skip Away Handicap (gr. III). In his most recent start, he overcame a poor start to run second to Mongoose in the grade I Donn Handicap, only to be disqualified and placed fourth for throwing his weight around on the turn.

Red Bullet will again have the riding services of Jerry Bailey, Gulfstream's all-time top stakes jockey, as he totes co-highweight of 117 pounds.

Mongoose, who has won four in a row, is the second choice in the morning line at 2-1. After defeating Monarchos in a Jan. 19 allowance contest, Mongoose won the Donn. He picks up just one pound from that outing and carries 115 Saturday, with Edgar Prado aboard.

Sir Bear has long been a local favorite, with six wins in 13 starts at Gulfstream, including three runnings of the Skip Away and last year's Gulfstream Park Handicap. He's 4-1 on the morning line, same as Hal's Hope.

Sir Bear carries co-highweight of 117 pounds and will be reunited with jockey Eibar Coa, who rode him to victory in 2001.

Hal's Hope won the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) then rolled to a front-running score in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in 2000. After running third in the Skip Away and seventh in the Donn, Hal's Hope found his winning ways last out in the Crème Fraiche Handicap (gr. III), rolling to a 2 1/4-length score over American Halo.

Regular rider Roger I. Velez will be aboard for the 31st straight time when Hal's Hope takes the track under 113 pounds, one pound more than he carried in his last score.

American Halo is 15-1 on the morning line, but will likely go off the forgotten horse despite the fact that he last ran just seven days ago. American Halo is trained by Angel Medina, and was second and third in allowance races before running second to Hal's Hope in the Crème Fraiche. His last start came on March 23, when he lined up against Macho Uno and got dusted, finishing seventh of eight, beaten 27 lengths.