A competitive field of nine older horses has passed the entry box for Saturday's one-mile Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the newly designed turf course at Gulfstream Park. Weighing in with a top impost of 120 pounds is the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Millennium Dragon, stakes winner on two continents including last year's Appleton.
Owned by Darley Stable and bred in Great Britain by Elsdon Farms, Millennium Dragon has been training solidly this winter at the Palm Meadows Training Center and enters the race off a game second to Mr. O'Brien in the grade II Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park.
Long-time rider Richard Migliore knows the 6-year-old son of Mark of Esteem's tactical speed well (he's won on the front and from behind) and gets the call from post three.
Carrying 119 over the mile will be Eugene and Laura Melnyk's 5-year-old Chilean-bred Host, winner in his last two stakes tries ending the 2004 campaign. The Todd Pletcher trainee boasts seven wins in 12 starts and has hit the board in all of them.
Bred by Haras De Peirque, Host scored game wins at Aqueduct in October in the Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) and again in the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT).
Chris De Carlo, aboard the son of Hussonet in the Knickerbocker, gets in the irons for a trip from post two.
Multiple stakes winner on both surfaces Freefourinternet moves back to the grass and makes his entrance for trainer Mike Maker off a neck loss where he was full of run over the track in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes Jan. 9. The son of Tabasco Cat won two straight stakes in fine form before trying top company in a distant 13th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Like Millennium Dragon, Freefourinternet has won at the distance. In the 2003 Kelso, he used a devastating close from way out of contention. Bred in Kentucky by Edward P. Evans, "Free" as his connections call him, is a millionaire who will be making his 36th career start. The stone closer and rider Jorge Chavez should be running at the end.
The Jan. 17 Lure Stakes winner over the sloppy main track, Quest, gets the services of Javier Castellano and will be readied for the affair by conditioner Nick Zito. Homebred in Kentucky by Arthur B. Hancock III and Gerald F. Healy, Quest drew away with the Lure by three lengths and should be rounding into form nicely for this one.
By Seeking the Gold
and out of the Spectacular Bid mare Starlore, Quest has $768,012 in total earnings and will exit from post four looking for a stalking position.
The connections of Phipps/McGaughey will send out Settle Up, a New York-based son of Kris S., for his first attempt at a stakes win. Some fine works and a series of close finishes and strong connections should have this one ready to tangle and it won't be a surprise to see him run well.
Settle Up gets the services of grass riding standout Jose Santos and the outside post nine.
Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey gets the ride on Remind, the talented son of Deputy Minister, and Eclipse finalist Edgar Prado will board Gulch Approval, the gelded son of Gulch
.Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT), 3-Year-Olds and Up, 1 mile, $100,000, 4:22 PM EDT.
PP--Horse, weight, jockey
1--Mr. Light, 114, Cornelio Velasquez
2--Host, 119, Chris DeCarlo
3--Millennium Dragon, 120, Richard Migliore
4--Quest, 113, Javier Castellano
5--Gulch Approval, 115, Edgar Prado
6--Remind, 115, Jerry Bailey
7--Freefourinternet, 116, Jorge Chavez
8--Spruce Run, 114, Joe Bravo
9--Settle Up, 111, Jose Santos