Highborn not quite Three Rules
Jose Pinchin gave a rich Jamaican laugh.
The question had been this: Could one compare Highborn, who starts Saturday at Gulfstream in the $200,000 Affirmed division of the Florida Sire Stakes, with Three Rules, whom Pinchin trained to win the 2016 edition of that race.
“No, no, I don’t think so,” Pinchin said. “Highborn is a nice little gelding, hopefully as good as any of the others this year, but not Three Rules.”
Indeed, Three Rules gave the 2016 Florida Stallion Stakes series a serious jolt of energy. A brilliant 2-year-old, Floridasired or otherwise, Three Rules won the Dr. Fager, the first leg of the series, by seven lengths before capturing the Affirmed division by more than five. Three Rules would go on to win the $500,000 In Reality by 10 lengths.
And, it just so happens, Three Rules came off the farm and back into Pinchin’s barn at Gulfstream on Saturday.
Three Rules won the Grade 3 Carry Back at Gulfstream by a neck on July 1, a game victory that gave him a well-deserved first win of 2017, as well as a well-deserved break from racing.
Three Rules had traveled from Florida to finish sixth at Santa Anita Nov. 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and on Feb. 4 he was back in action at Gulfstream running a strong second in the Swale Stakes. Three Rules’s winter break was short, and the Carry Back was his fifth start at age 3. He was due a rest following the Carry Back. “He jogged today. Looks good,” Pinchin said. “He was a tired horse. He danced every dance and danced with the best.”
Pinchin said there are no set plans for Three Rules. “It’s too soon to say where he’ll run,” said Pinchin. “It all depends on how quick he comes around.”
The High Cotton gelding Highborn, meanwhile, is owned by Pinchin’s wife, Tracey, and after a sixth-place finish in his five-furlong debut July 7, Highborn, racing with blinkers added, was a solid second July 23 before winning a sevenfurlong maiden race Aug. 12 by 7 1/4 lengths.
“He got a little more distance, which was what he needed,” Pinchin said.
The field for the Affirmed division of the sire stakes remained somewhat in flux over the weekend, and the race could attract between eight and 12 entries when it, along with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl division for fillies, is drawn Wednesday.
Blinkers for Dunk
Dunk, who finished second as the odds-on favorite Aug. 4 in the Dr. Fager division of the sire stakes, will race in blinkers for the first time in the Affirmed division on Saturday, trainer Stanley Gold said.
Dunk, who had scored a blowout maiden win July 15 racing on Lasix for the first time, was head and head for the lead in the Dr. Fager but wound up second, beaten almost three lengths.
“The colt hung a little bit in the stretch,” Gold said. “He’ll be wearing blinkers. If you look at his races, he has a tendency to look to his outside.”
Dunk has worked in blinkers since his last start to give him a familiarity with the equipment, said Gold.
Gold also has reason to believe that Awesome Mass, the filly who finished second in the $100,000 Desert Vixen division, also can improve.
“The filly stumbled out of the gate and grabbed a quarter, and she hung on well for second,” said Gold. “I was disappointed, and you have reasons for the way they ran, but they end up sounding like excuses.”
◗ The highly regarded Righteous Ruth will get a real test when she tackles a solid group of fillies and mares in a $25,000 optional-claiming race at Gulfstream Park on Thursday. The one-mile turf race drew eight horses and goes as race 5. –additional reporting
by Randy Goulding