Bog Hunter Tops Gulfstream's Spectacular Bid on Opening Day

From Gulfstream Park
Four stakes races highlight the opening week of Thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park. The South Florida racetrack opens a 90-day meeting on Thursday, Jan. 3 that extends through April 24.

The first of the four stakes is the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds to be run over six furlongs on opening day, Thursday. This will be the 22nd running of the Spectacular Bid and 12 horses were made eligible for the sprint test with another 64 horses already being eligible since they were nominated for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) that will be run over 1 1/8 miles on March 16.

Fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward, will take the spotlight on Friday with 35 members of the distaff set nominated for the 18th running of the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. III) at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Saturday's feature event is also on the turf and is the 51st running of the $150,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. II) for 3-year-olds and upward over one mile. It closed with 27 nominees.

Sunday's stakes race is the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes, which is limited to 3-year-old fillies and will be run at a distance of six furlongs.

The Spectacular Bid Stakes is named after the horse of the same name who swept the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) and Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream in route to winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I)and Preakness Stakes (gr. I )in 1979.

Heading the list of horses likely to run in the Spectacular Bid is Nelson Jones' double stakes winner Bog Hunter. The chestnut colt won the Affirmed division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course in September and in his last start captured the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay in mid-December.

Two other horses expected to start in the Spectacular Bid are Jacks or Better Farm Inc.'s Handsome Hunk, winner of the Fort Springs Stakes at Keeneland, and Cindy and R. Stengel's Royal Lad, an impressive winner of his last two races at Calder.

Overbrook Farm's Penny's Gold was assigned the topweight of 120 pounds for Friday's Honey Fox Handicap. Penny's Gold won the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and the Boiling Springs Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Saratoga this year.

Penny's Gold is one of four horses that French-born trainer Christophe Clement nominated for the race. The others are Veil of Avalon, the second highweight at 118 pounds, who won the Solo Hanai Handicap in her last start at Calder; Ing Ing, a double stakes winner in France who was assigned 114 pounds; and Moyglare Stud's Step With Style (113 pounds), winner of the Rockingham Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Helen Groves' Batique was assigned the third top impost of 117 pounds for the Honey Fox. The Michael Matz trained-runner is a triple stakes winner, including a victory in the My Charmer Stakes (gr. III) at Calder in her last start.

Tijiyr, the Irish-bred gray owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Niall O'Callaghan, heads the list of eligibles for the Appleton Handicap. The 5-year-old won the Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. II) at the Fair Grounds this year and was a close-up third in the Manhattan Handicap (gr. I)at Belmont Park.

Tijiyr chipped an ankle in the Manhattan and was subsequently sidelined for four months. He was third in his return in the River City Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and disappointed as the favorite in the recent Tropical Park Handicap (gr. III) at Calder in his last start.

Other notable horses nominated for the Appleton are Julian DeMarco's North East Bound, Teresa and David Palmer's Mr. Livingston, and Arthur I. Appleton's Galic Boy.

North East Bound won the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II), was second in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) on the turf in 2000, and this year he won the Makers Mark Mile (gr. II) at Keeneland. Mr. Livingston is a multiple stakes winner, with his most recent victories being the Ensign Ray Stakes in August and the Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap in September at Calder. Galic Boy is also a multiple stakes winner and won the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne in his last start.

Forest Heiress, among of the best 2-year-old fillies in 2001, heads the list of horses nominated for the Old Hat Stakes on Sunday. Owned by New Farm and trained by Ben W. Perkins, Jr., Forest Heiress has won four of her five career outings, including stakes wins in the Colleen Stakes and Sorority Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park, and the Valley Stream Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in her last start. Her only defeat was a second- place finish in the Astarita Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont Park.

Another highly touted filly, Elizabeth Valando's undefeated Take The Cake, is already slated to start in the Old Hat, according to her trainer Carl Nafzger. Take The Cake won both her starts in Kentucky this fall.

Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III), $100,000 Guaranteed, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles
1--How About My Place, 116, Mark Guidry
2--Harmony Hall, 116, Jerry Bailey
3--Handsome Hunk, 120, Pat Day
4--Mr. Kipp, 116, Raymond Ganpath
5--Bog Hunter, 120, Eduardo Nunez
6--Royal Lad, 116, Eibar Coa
7--Showmeitall, 118, Jorge Chavez
8--Maybry's Boy, 116, John Velazquez