The 35th running of the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Turf for 3-year-olds and up is one of two graded stakes on the 10-race program, along with the $100,000 My Charmer (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares 3 and older, also at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Trained by Marcus Vitali, Lochte has a two-race win streak going, with the 5-year-old Medaglia d'Oro gelding winning the Mr. Steele Stakes Sept. 27 at Gulfstream Park and the Spider John Oct. 25 at Gulfstream Park West by a combined eight lengths, both as the favorite.
Before his recent success, Lochte had lost six straight starts, all in stakes, dating back to a optional claiming allowance score March 13 at Tampa Bay Downs, where he also took the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) in January.
"I think he's turned the corner for the better. He's definitely improving every day," Vitali said. "He's doing good. Everything is pointing in the right direction with him. He's moving forward. He's a horse for course. He likes being in Florida. He really likes Gulfstream and he doesn't mind Gulfstream West."
Matt Rispoli, aboard for each of the last three starts, gets a return call from post six at topweight of 120 pounds.
"He's on his game right now," Vitali said. "The horse has won a grade I. I don't see any reason why he can't compete with this field. But, it's a horse race and you've got to wish for everybody that their horse comes into the race right and they all run well. I just hope mine runs the best."
Lawrence Durocher Jr.'s six-time stakes winner Kharafa will have another chance to earn his first graded stakes victory in the Tropical Turf.
A 6-year-old New York-bred, Kharafa has 11 wins and $875,137 in earnings from 31 career starts. He has been off the board twice in graded company, finishing eighth in the 2014 Appleton (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park and seventh in the Oceanport (gr. IIIT) on Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park.
Previous to the Oceanport, Kharafa rallied to win the Elkwood Stakes July 4 by a neck over Lochte.
"We kind of penciled this race in. If he was doing well, we were going to go for it and then he'll get the winter off," trainer Tim Hills said. "He's 6 turning 7, but he's a very sound horse. He's fit and ready to go."
Kharafa comes in off a head loss in the Oct. 24 Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park to fellow New York-bred rival Lubash, winner of last year's Tropical Turf. Kharafa has finished in the top three in 10 of 12 career tries at 1 1/16 miles with five wins, but will be making his Gulfstream Park West debut. GULFSTREAM PARK WEST, Saturday, November 21, 2015, Race 6
"We've gotten so much rain lately, the turf will probably have a lot of give in it, which he really likes," Hills said. "He was always wanting to get a little bit rank early in the race. It was hard to get him to settle, but as he's gotten older he's settled a lot better. He's getting the hang of it. He's just a more mature horse."
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado will ride from post 8 at 117 pounds.
Also entered are Take the Stand, a group III winner in Argentina this winter who making his fourth North American start; Key to Power, unraced since back-to-back stakes scores 19 days apart in September; All Included, third in the Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT) Sept. 7; Inchcape, third in the Elkwood and Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIT) this summer; Amigo, Flashlight, and Good and Proper.
Saraguaro, winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview Nov. 7, Lynx, and Slim Shadey are entered for main track only.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Amigo (FL) Emisael Jaramillo 113 Ronny W. Werner 20/1 2 2All Included (KY) Javier Castellano 117 Todd A. Pletcher 7/2 3 3Inchcape (ON) Edgard J. Zayas 117 Jason Servis 6/1 4 4Take the Stand (ARG) Jose Lezcano 115 William I. Mott 8/1 5 5Flashlight (IRE) Eddie Castro 115 Michael J. Maker 15/1 6 6Lochte (KY) Matthew Rispoli 120 Marcus J. Vitali 9/5 7 7Key to Power (KY) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 116 Brendan P. Walsh 12/1 8 8Kharafa (NY) Edgar S. Prado 117 Timothy A. Hills 4/1 9 9Good and Proper (KY) Joe Bravo 112 Larry Bates 20/1 10 10Lynx (ON) Edgard J. Zayas 117 Martin D. Wolfson 6/1 11 11Slim Shadey (GB) Tyler Gaffalione 115 David Jacobson 5/1 12 12Saraguaro (FL) Eddie Castro 114 Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. 5/1
GULFSTREAM PARK WEST, Saturday, November 21, 2015, Race 6