Esken for money, Curlin’s Approval rematched in Royal Delta
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – When last they met at Gulfstream Park, Eskenformoney was pulling a mild upset over favored Curlin’s Approval in the Grade 3 Rampart on Dec. 17.
Nine weeks later, they will meet again Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Royal Delta at 1 1/16 miles. Curlin’s Approval once again will be favored – she was 1-2 in the Rampart when finishing three-quarters of a length behind Eskenformoney, a 5-1 shot – but there’s likely to be more support for Eskenformoney this time around.
“We’ve been pointing to this race ever since the last one,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Eskenformoney.
At least six fillies and mares were expected for the Royal Delta when entries were drawn Wednesday afternoon, with Caboclo do Rio, Verve’s Tale, and Mo Green among the other probable starters.
After the one-mile Rampart, Curlin’s Approval turned back to seven furlongs to win the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie on the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup undercard, again as the favorite. Pletcher had Genre as the second choice in that race and kept Eskenformoney in her stall.
“We didn’t want to turn [Eskenformoney] back, and the timing [of the Royal Delta] really suited us,” Pletcher said.
Eskenformoney, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, figures sharp off the layoff, which should help her chances if the pace is too soft, as often happens in a short field.
Mines and Magic ready
Vicki Oliver was all set to finish off a nice 3-year-old season with Mines and Magic when the filly came down with pneumonia, of all things.
“It is unusual for a Thoroughbred to get pneumonia,” Oliver said. “It was a pretty bizarre thing.”
Mines and Magic won the $100,000 Dogwood on Sept. 24 at Churchill Downs as the favorite and was scheduled to run back in the Raven Run at Keeneland.
Duly regrouped at Payson Park, Mines and Magic is scheduled to make her 4-yearold debut here at Gulfstream Park on Saturday in the $60,000 Wild Pearl at seven furlongs.
“She’s ready to run again,” said Oliver. “We’re kind of looking long-term at the Doubledogdare” in April at Keeneland.
Wild Shot returning to Tampa
Wild Shot, beaten 3 1/2 lengths when fourth behind McCraken last weekend in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, will return to Tampa Bay Downs for the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby “unless I see no reason not to go,” said trainer Rusty Arnold.
Like McCraken, Wild Shot was making his first start since the Nov. 26 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Coasted getting in shape
Coasted was one of the surprise stories of last year’s Breeders’ Cup, finishing a fastclosing second while beaten just a half-length by New Money Honey in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Coasted was sent to Florida for the winter by trainer Leah Gyarmati, and after a brief freshening is slowly starting to work her way back into shape for her 3-year-old campaign. She turned in her fifth in a series of works over the Gulfstream Park main track Tuesday, going four furlongs in 50.25 seconds in company before galloping out five-eighths in 1:03.50 with Gyarmati flying down for the day to oversee the drill.
Coasted, a daughter of Tizway owned by Treadway Racing Stables, was a stakes winner at 2, capturing the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga in her third start.
“She went five furlongs in her previous work and it looked like it took her a couple of days to bounce back, which is why I backed her down to a half this week,” Gyarmati said shortly before catching a flight back to New York on Tuesday afternoon. “Right now, I’m undecided about where she might start back.”
The first local option for Coasted could be the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at 1 1/16 miles on March 4.
Chilean import intriguing
Among the paddock schoolers at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday was Huracan Americo, a Group 1 winner in his native Chile at 2 who is currently being pointed toward a possible start in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4.
Huracan Americo, a son of 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, won the 1 1/2-mile Derby Nacional on Nov. 6 in Lima. He arrived at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 20 and is being trained by Dante Zanelli Jr., who brought another Peruvian Group 1 winner, Tomcito, here nine years ago to finish third, a dozen lengths behind Big Brown, in the 2008 Florida Derby.
Huracan Americo has worked once since arriving locally, five furlongs in 1:02.60, with jockey Edgar Prado aboard.
“We just wanted to give him an easy work and let him do a little bit the last quartermile, and he finished up well,” Zanelli said.