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By Jim Freer
Saturday, Aug. 1 — A live sprint stakes with a strong field on Saturday and American Pharoah via simulcast on Sunday.
Those are the main attractions at Gulfstream Park on this first weekend of August.
It is the start of a month when some of South Florida’s top stakes horses are often flown or vanned north to run in rich graded stakes races at Saratoga and other tracks. But the owners and trainers of Grande Shores, Falling Sky and City of Weston have decided to keep those horses home, at least for this weekend. All three have won at least one sprint stakes at Gulfstream.
(Editor’s Note: Grande Shores is shown above winning the Parrot Key at Gulfstream on June 6).
They are among seven entrants for Saturday’s $75,000 Trinniberg Stakes at Gulfstream. The race is seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-olds and up. It is the eighth race with a scheduled post of 5:07 p.m.
The Trinniberg will be part of Gulfstream’s 11-race Saturday card with first post of 1:15 p.m.
On Sunday, Gulfstream will again have 11 races with a 1:15 p.m. first post–but with no stakes races.
Sunday’s big event will be the simulcast of the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational (Grade 1) at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., where American Pharoah will make his first start since June 6 when he won the Belmont Stakes. That made the Bob Buffer-trainee the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
The Haskell will be the 12th race at Monmouth with scheduled post of 5:52 p.m. Gulfstream on Sunday will have a series of drawings and giveaways connected to American Pharo
For Grande Shores, Falling Sky and City of Weston the Trinniberg will be a chance to bounce back from a rare off-the-board finish.
With all three that came in the Smile Sprint (Grade 2) at six furlongs at Gulfstram on July 5.
Grande Shores finished fourth and City of Weston finished sixth in a very deep nine-horse field. Falling Sky, in his first start since last August, did not show his accustomed early speed and finished eighth.
Ledokol, seventh in the Smile, also is back for the Trinniberg. He has done most of his racing in optional claimers at Gulfstream and at Tampa Bay Downs.
Favorite Tale led the entire race and won the Smile in a fast 1:08.85 by 4 1/4 lengths over Work All Week, the winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Grade 1) at Santa Anita. Wildcat Red was second for most of the Smile and came in third by 1 1/4 lengths over Grande Shores, who started slowly but then showed his usual late run.
The Smile was a “win and you’re in” race for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 31. That was a main reason why Favorite Tale and Work All Week shipped in for the Smile. Those two horses and Gulfstream-based Wildcat Red are not in the Trinniberg.
Grande Shores’ fourth place finish followed 15 races in which he had six wins and nine second place finishes. All were in stakes or in optional claimers at Gulfstream or at Calder.
“He didn’t get to run the whole race, but he was still coming at the end,” said Stan Gold, who trains Grande Shores for Jacks or Better Farm. “There was plenty left in the tank.”
City of Weston, also a closer, defeated Grande Shores by a neck in the seven-furlong Blue Heron at Gulfstream on April 23. They resumed their Gulfstream rivalry in the 6 ½ Parrot Key on June 6, with Grande Shores winning and City of Weston coming in third.
Last year Falling Sky won the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) in a very fast 1:20.85. His last race prior to the Smile was a third place finish in the six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Grade 1) at Saratoga last August 2.
Prior to the Smile, Falling Sky’s owners transferred the 5-year-old from George Weaver to Marty Wolfson. Weaver trains at Gulfstream during the winter and primarily at New York tracks the remainder of the year. Wolfson is stabled year-round at Gulfstream.
Past performances indicate that Falling Sky and Phish Fan, in his stakes debut, will battle for the early lead and that City of Weston, Falling Sky and Ledokol will be making late runs.
Regular jockey Eddie Castro will ride Grande Shores. Wolfson has Harry Hernandez on Falling Sky, while trainer Peter Walder has Jesus Rios on city of Weston. Jose Ferrer will ride Ledokol for trainer Marcial Navarro.
Casiguapo and Taverni Bay round out the field and will be long shots.
However, Casiguapo has some attractive back form and could hit the board at a price if any of the favorites falter. He finished second in the seven-furlong Hopeful at Saratoga in 2013. Jonathan Gonzales will ride Casiguapo for trainer Roderick Rodriguez.
The race is named in honor of Trinniberg the South Florida-based horse that won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita and was later voted the winner of that year’s Eclipse Award for sprinters.
*The three top finishers in the Smile are racing outside of Florida this weekend.
Favorite Tale is in Saturday’s Vanderbilt at Saratoga. Work All Week is in Saturday’s $100,000 Senator Robert Byrd Stakes at six furlongs at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va.
On Sunday, Wildcat Red will run in the $100,000 Teddy Drone at six furlongs at Monmouth Park. Trainer Jose Garoffalo is using that race as a possible prep for richer sprint stakes later this year.
* There will be a carryover of $88,046 on the Rainbow 6 on the day’s final six races.
A fundraiser at Gulfstream on Saturday for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund will feature a ‘Dunk the Jock’ day-long event.
A long list of Gulfstream jockeys will participate in the fundraiser, which offers fans three throws for a $5 donation to the fund that assists 60 former jockeys whose lives were forever changed due to catastrophic on-track injuries. The dunk tank will be located next to the Cigar statue near the walking ring.
On Sunday as part of an American Pharoah “Phanfest,” those at Gulfstream who purchase a Handicapper program or Daily Racing Form will receive an American Pharoah-Triple Crown T-shirt while supplies last.
Drawings will begin at 3:15 p.m. with 30 guests winning their choices of Triple Crown collectors’ items. (No purchase necessary to enter).
Doors for Gulfstream’s Silks simulcast facility will open at 10:30 a.m. Sunday to accommodate Monmouth’s early 11:30 a.m. first-race post.