Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal, who was prominent on the Triple Crown trail in 2008 and later won the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), will make his 4-year-old debut against 13 older rivals during Gulfstream Park’s opening day $100,000 Hal’s Hope Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 3.
A one-mile contest on the main track, the Hal’s Hope will also include Hobeau Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner Delightful Kiss and Rolbea Thoroughbred Racing’s Finallymadeit, who ships over from Calder Race Course where he won five times in 2008, including the Fred Hooper Stakes (gr. III) last out. Edmund Gann’s It’s a Bird, winner of the Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) at Calder in October, is also entered and will share top weight of 122 pounds with Anak Nakal and Delightful Kiss.
Anak Nakal raced nine times as a 3-year-old, winning just once while also finishing runner-up in the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. II) and dead-heating for third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Most recently, the son of Victory Gallop—Misk (by Quiet American) was seventh in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Nick Zito, Anak Nakal has started on the Gulfstream dirt once, finishing eighth in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II). Bred in Kentucky by Buckram Oak Farm, he has earned $949,820 from 12 starts, including a victory as a juvenile in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). Joe Bravo, who was aboard for the Pa. Derby triumph, will get the mount.
Delightful Kiss looks to build upon the solid second half form he displayed in 2008. The 5-year-old Kissin Kris gelding won consecutive graded stakes events in September when taking the Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III) and All American Stakes (gr. III) at Golden Gate. The Pete Anderson trainee then finished only two lengths back in fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita and closed out his 2008 campaign with a solid runner-up effort in the Clark.
Delightful Kiss, who has earned $822,873 from 22 starts, spent most of his 2006 and 2007 campaigns racing in Florida. He is 1-for-2 on the Gulfstream dirt, taking an allowance event at the Hallandale oval in February of 2007. Calvin Borel will get the call.
Dubbed the 'Iron Horse of South Florida,' Finallymadeit went to the starting gate 15 times in 2008 after making 19 starts in 2007. The 5-year-old son of Concertoraced twice at Gulfstream last year, one of those a third-place finish in the Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) in January.
Finallymadeit, who is trained by Javier Negrete and will be ridden by Eduardo Nunez, cuts back to one mile for the first time in six starts. He won at this distance in allowance company Aug. 3 at Calder.
The veteran of the field is 8-year-old Cuba, a New Jersey-bred who is 12-3-11 from 40 starts. Trained by Bobby Dibona, Cuba won seven of 12 starts in 2008, the biggest victory coming in the $300,000 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park in October. Kent Desormeaux draws the assignment.
Gulfstream will run on a five-day-a-week schedule, Wednesdays through Sundays, before closing on April 23. Post time for the first race daily is 1:15 p.m EDT.