By Jim Freer
Four horses that have won at least one turf race at Gulfstream Park this year will attempt to take a step upward on Saturday in the $75,000 Forty Niner Stakes.
They are Megeve, Fast Fire, Keystoneforvictory and Telling Tony.
All are top contenders among the ten entrants in the Forty Niner, at 1 1/16 miles on the Gulfstream turf for 3-year-olds that have never won a sweepstakes—basically a non-restricted stakes.
The Forty Niner is the ninth race with scheduled post of 5:30 p.m.
First post is 1:15 p.m. for the 11-race card. We will have coverage on our blog.
Among the attractions are carryovers in the rolling Super Hi-5, the Late Pick 5 and the Rainbow 6 (details below).
The main track is listed as fast and the turf is listed as firm.
Six of the races (the odd-numbered ones) are scheduled for turf, all with the rail at 72 feet.
The Weather Channel forecast is for a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in Hallandale Beach where Gulfstream is located.
But barring heavy downpours it is likely that Gulfstream will be able to continue its recent trend and ability of keeping races on the turf.
It rained early Friday afternoon at Gulfstream. But track officials were able to keep the five scheduled-for-turf races on that surface, The dirt track was sloppy and sealed.
Forty Niner Stakes
The Forty Niner will be a rematch for Megeve with Keystoneforvictory and with Telling Tony, from separate races.
On Feb. 15, Megeve won and Keystoneforvictory came in fifth in the Sage of Monticello, a $60,000 starter allowance at 7 ½ furlongs on turf. That race and the other races on Gulfstream’s Presidents’ Day card were restricted to horses that had run for less than designated claiming prices over the previous 13 months.
On April 21 at Gulfstream, Megeve finished third in a one-mile turf optional claimer won by Telling Tony.
Telling Tony rallied in the stretch to win by a neck over Fleming, who also is in the Forty Niner. Megeve finished three-quarters of a length behind Fleming.
Since his loss to Megeve, Keystoneforvictory has won an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream and an allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Churchill Downs.
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey sent Keystoneforvictory back to trainer Mike Maker’s team at Gulfstream for the Forty Niner. Rafael Hernandez has the mount.
Eddie Castro will ride Telling Tony for trainer David Fawkes and owners Alex and Joann Lieblong.
Trainer Phil Gleaves has Tyler Gaffalione riding Megeve for owner Keith Long.
“Megeve is an improving sort,” Gleaves told the Gulfstream media office. “We gave him a bit of a break after the Sage of Monticello and he came back and ran a good race to finish third last time out. He had to go wide turning for home, but he was still closing and coming. I think he fits well here.”
Gleaves also trains Fast Fire, coming off wins at one mile and at 7 ½ furlongs on the Gulfstream turf—although with lower speed figures than his main rivals. John Cruz will ride Fast Fire, owned by Peter Vegso.
Another top contender is Tizzarunner, owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse. Cornelio Velasquez has the mount.
Tizzarunner will be making his first Gulfstream start and first turf start. Last year, he finished second and third in stakes races on the synthetic surface at Woodbine in Etobicoke, Ont.
The field also has El Ciclon, Forced Motion, Donation and Titanium Heart.
Keystoneforvictory probably will be favored, following his win at Churchill Downs on May 15.
A key question will be which if any horses will challenge Fleming for the early lead. Luca Panici will ride Fleming for trainer Michelle Nihei and owner William Quartuccio.
The Forty Niner is named for the horse that in 1988 won the Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) and finished second in the Florida Derby (Grade 1) at Gulfstream.
Woody Stephens, the late Hall of Fame member, trained Forty Niner. Gleaves was an assistant trainer and exercise rider for Stephens from the mid 1970s to mid 1980s.
Gulfstream this week made Wednesdays dark and switched to a Thursday through Sunday racing schedule until Oct, 2.
It also began a several-week stretch without any racing on its wide turf course. The rail is at 72 feet for all turf races this Thursday through Sunday.
With fewer races each week and with about half of its races still on turf, Gulfstream should see an increase in field sizes.
On Friday there were 63 starters in nine races, similar to most days in recent weeks
The Saturday card has 114 entrants, including main track only and also eligibles, for 11 races.
Sunday’s 10-race card has 95 entrants, including AE and MTO. First post is 1:15 p.m. for ten races, with no stakes.
On Friday, there were no winning tickets on the Super Hi-5 on the ninth and final race.
There were no tickets with all five winners on the Late Pick 5 and no tickets with all six winners on the Rainbow 6.
That was largely the result of 12-1 shots Reina Divina and Meddling By winning the seventh and ninth races, respectively.
*Super Hi-5: On the first race, the carryover will be $2,231.43. It is a $10,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up. There are ten entrants.
The bet is $1 minimum. Gulfstream has it on every race with seven or more starters. There are no consolation payoffs. If there are no tickets with the first five finishers in correct order, the pool and any preceding race roll over into the next race with seven or more starters.
*Late Pick 5: The carryover is $13,782.14 and is on races seven to 11. It is a 50-cent minimum bet.
On Friday there was no carryover going in, and $21,626 was bet on the Late Pick 5. Tickets with four-of-five winners were paid. On a 50 cent bet the payoff was $164.05.
*Rainbow 6: The carryover will be $28,072.30 and will be on the sixth through 11th races. It is a 20-cent only bet.
On Friday, there were no tickets with the winners of all six Rainbow 6 races.
So Gulfstream made a non-jackpot payout of $436.08 on the 31 tickets that had five winners.
Gulfstream pays out the Rainbow 6 jackpot/carryover only on days when there is just one ticket with all six winners.
On other days it takes out 20 percent of bets on the Rainbow 6, divides 56 percent among tickets with the most winners and adds 24 percent to the carryover.