By Jim Freer
Wednesday, July 1 — Trainer Jose Garoffalo (above photo) plans to bring Gulfstream Park fan favorite Wildcat Red back to the races this coming Sunday July 5 in the $250,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (Grade 2) at Gulfstream.
The Smile is six furlongs on dirt for 4-year-olds and up. It is one of four graded sprint stakes on the Summit of Speed card, which will have a total of nine stakes races.
Entries and post positions for those races will be drawn late this afternoon.
The Summit co-features are the Smile and the $250,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (Grade 2) at six furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The Smile is a “Win and You’re In” race for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and the Princess Rooney is “Win and You’re In” for a berth in this year’s
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Both races will be on Oct. 31 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Wildcat Red, a 4-year-old colt, has not raced since
Jan. 17 when he came in fifth in the 1 1/8 mile Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream.
That was his only finish worse than second in nine starts at Gulfstream.
Wildcat Red won five of his eight previous starts at the track.
Last year, he won Gulfstream’s seven-furlong Hutcheson (Grade 3) and 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) and finished second by a head to Constitution in the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby (Grade 1).
Javier Castellano, the two-time Eclipse Award champion, rode Wildcat Red for the only time in the Hutcheson.
Castellano will be back on Wildcat Red in the
Smile, Garoffalo told the Gulfstream press office.
“I’m going to go with Castellano,” Garoffalo said. “We’re happy to have him ride our horse.”
Castellano has led Gulfstream jockeys in wins for each of the track’s last three championship meets.
This July, as usual, he is based at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Garoffalo confirmed Wildcat Red for the Smile on Sunday following a bullet five-furlong breeze at Gulfstream.
“He went great,” Garoffalo said. “He loves this track.”
The 4-year-old son of D’wildcat was timed in 1:00.31, the fastest clocking of 12 recorded at the five-furlong distance.
“Mentally, he’s more focused,” Garoffalo said. “Physically, he’s a lot stronger and is more muscled. He’s doing everything easier like he did before. He’s ready to get back.”
Wildcat Red is owned by Honors Stable Corp., whose principals are the husband-wife team of Salvatore Delfino and Josie Martino. They have homes in Venezuela and in Fort Lauderdale.
Ironically, Castellano rode Constitution when that colt edged Wildcat Red in last year’s Florida Derby.
John Velazquez rode the Todd Pletcher-trained Wildcat Red that day, amid the musical jockey-like switches that often take place among riders during Gulfstream’s prep races for the Kentucky Derby.
In addition to Castellano, Victor Espinoza is among jockeys who will travel to Gulfstream for the Sumit of Speed.
Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah for a 2015 Triple Crown sweep, is slated to ride City of Weston in the Smile and will have several other mounts during the afternoon.
City of Weston, a 5-year-old, is owned by Looch Racing and is trained by Peter Walder.
He has won five of his 14 Gulfstream starts. On April 23, he won the seven furlong Parrot Key Handicap at Gulfstream.
Work All Week, last year’s Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award sprint champion, also is scheduled to run in the Smile.
On Sunday morning, Work All Week breezed a half-mile in 46.20 seconds at Churchill Downs.
The Midwest Thoroughbreds’ homebred gelding’s clocking was the fastest of 53 workouts at the distance.
The 6-year-old son of City Zip capped his 2014 season with a half-length victory over Secret Circle in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. l.
He later was voted the winner of the Eclipse Award for sprinters.
Work All Week, trained by Roger Brueggeman, finished a troubled second in his 2015 debut in the Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 30.
Gulfstream’s other Summit of Speed day graded stakes are:
* Carry Back (Grade 3) — $150,000, seven furlongs,
* Azalea (Grade 3) — $150,000, seven furlongs dirt, 3-YO fillies
The other five stakes have $75,000 purses:
*Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint — five furlongs, turf, 3-YO and up
*Miesque’s Approval — 1 1/16 miles turf. 3-YO and up
* Spook Express –1 1/16 miles turf, fillies and mares, 3-YO and up
* Birdonthewire — 5 ½ furlongs, 2-Yos
* Cassidy — 5 ½ furlongs, dirt, 2-YO fillies.
The Cassidy and Birdonthewire are Gulfstream’s first races of the year for 2-year-olds.
The Summit of Speed was an annual event from 2000 to 2013 at Calder Casino & Race Course, and was run in early July as one of the biggest days each year at the Miami Gardens track.
The Summit races were not run last year, amid circumstances in the peace talks between Calder and Gulfstream.
In early June last year, Gulfstream (owned by Stronach Group) and Calder (owned by Churchill Downs Inc.) reached agreement to end the head-to-head weekend racing they began in July 2013.
However, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel wagering did not approve the deal until July 1, 2014.
On June 16 last year, Calder noted that it was uncertain whether it would have racing the following month–and it cancelled plans for the Summit of Speed that was scheduled for Saturday July 5.
Gulfstream responded that it would not be able to run to run the 2014 Summit races, noting that it would not able to do its regular work in contacting out-of-town trainers who would bring horses in for the Summit graded stakes.
Gulfstream instead scheduled and ran a series of sptint stakes, with lower purses, in July 2014.
In addition, Gulfstream said it would pick up the traditional Summit stakes starting in 2015.
Under the July 2014 agreement, Gulfstream is leasing Calder’s racing operations through the end of 2020.
Gulfstream now has racing 10 months each year. In October and November, it is holding a race meet at Calder under the name Gulfstream Park West.
Summit of Speed, Gulfstream