By Jim Freer
Recent Gulfstream Park graded stakes winners Eskenformoney and Curlin’s Approval head the field for Saturday’s $200,000 Royal Delta Stakes (Grade 2) at the Hallandale Beach track.
The Royal Delta is 1 1/16 miles on dirt for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. It is the fourth race, with scheduled post at 1:30 p.m.
First post is 12:00 p.m. for the 12-race card.
The 11th race is the $60,000 White Pearl Stakes, at seven furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up.
Scheduled post is 5:05 p.m. Moment of Delight, Julerette and Bodacious Babe are among likely favorites.
We will have coverage during the afternoon on our blog. It can be accessed on the menu bar at the top of our home page.
Gulfstream has guaranteed minimum pools for three late multi-race bets.
*Rainbow 6 (races 7 to 12) — $200,000; this includes a carryover of $55,554
*Late Pick 5 (races 8 to 12) — $200,000
*Late Pick 4 (races 7 to 12) — $300,000
The Royal Delta has just six entrants. That short field is a primary reason why Gulfstream has made it the fourth race, rather than including it in the late sequences.
For Eskenformoney and Curlin’s Approval, the Royal Delta will be a rematch of the Rampart (Grade 3). That one mile dirt stakes was run at Gulfstream last Dec. 17.
They dueled for the lead in the stretch before Eskenformoney pulled away to win by three-quarters of a length.
(Photo on home page is of Eskenformoney winning the Rampart. By Leslie Martin, Gulfstream Park)
Eskenformoney, a 5-yer-old trained by Todd Pletcher, has not raced since the Rampart.
Curlin’s Approval came back on Jan. 28 to win the Hurricane Bertie (Grade 3) at seven furlongs on dirt at Gulfstream.
The one mile Rampart was the longest race in seven career starts for Curlin’s Approval, a 4-year-old trained by Marty Wolfson.
Thus, the 1 1/16 mile Royal Delta distance could benefit Eskenformoney, as well as Verve’s Tale and Mo’ Green.
Curlin’s Approval might have to battle for the lead with Venom Girl, who brings a three-race win streak into the Royal Delta. Those races were all one mile on dirt at Gulfstream, but all were in $6,250 claiming races.
Coboclo do Rio, fourth in the Rampart, rounds out the field.
Trainer-jockey combinations for the four top contenders are Eskenformoney (Pletcher-Javier Castellano), Curlin’s Approval (Wolfson, Luis Saez), Mo’ Green (Joe Orseno-John Velazquez) and Verve’s Tale (Barclay Tagg-Paco Lopez).
Presidents’ Day Racing
Mondays are usually dark at Gulfstream.
But this Monday, Feb. 20, it will have a special Presidents’ Day card with twelve races and first post of 12:00 p.m.
All twelve races are starter stakes, with purses of either $60,000 or $50,000 and restricted to horses that have raced at least once at or below designated claiming levels in 2016 or in 2017.
All of the races are named in honor of U.S. presidents, U.S. first ladies or the British royal family.
We will have a preview story on Sunday night.