Juvenile stakes a key piece of Sunshine Millions Preview
Four $75,000 stakes races for 2-year-olds bred in Florida are a big part of Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Preview Day card at Gulfstream Park West. The stakes-filled program is the highlight of the meet and serves as a prelude to Sunshine Millions Day Jan. 20 at Gulfstream Park.
First up is the Juvenile Fillies Sprint, where Starship Bonita will try to win her third stakes in a row. The daughter of Gone Astray is the only horse in the four stakes races for juveniles that has won a stakes race.
In her Florida Sire Stakes victories at Gulfstream Park in the My Dear Girl on Sept. 30 and the Susan’s Girl on Sept 2, she edged Dessert Honeys by a head and a neck.
Trainer Steven Dwoskin likes that she is cutting back to a sprint following her gutsy win going 1 1/16 miles in the Susan’s Girl.
“I think she is basically a sprinter,” Dwoskin said. “We had to train her differently to get her to go around two turns, and we have put some speed back into her leading up to this race. I don’t think she’s a champion, but she is a nice horse. We bought her for $72,000 in March, and they have a great program in Florida that allows you to make a lot of money with a good horse.”
To be exact, Starship Bonita has earned $374,400 for owner Laurence Leavy. Leavy, better known to Major League Baseball fans as Marlins Man, races under the stable name Starship Stables.
Carlos Montalvo, aboard for both of Starship Bonita’s stakes wins, has the return call from post 2.
The main threat appears to be Silver Bay, who was an impressive debut winner for trainer William Hickey.
With apprentice Aby Medina riding, the daughter of Currency Swap sat just off the lead before drawing away to win the five-furlong dash for Florida-bred fillies by 5 1/2 lengths Oct. 23 at Gulfstream Park West.
She will break from the rail with Tyler Gaffalione picking up the mount.
In the Juvenile Sprint, trainer Ralph Nicks is hoping Wildcat’s Legacy will handle the Gulfstream Park West surface as well as he did Gulfstream’s, where he romped in his debut Sept. 27.
If he does, the son of Wildcat Heir could be tough to handle in Saturday’s 6 1/2-furlong dash.
Despite breaking last in his debut, he won the six-furlong
maiden special weight race for Florida-breds by 7 1/4 lengths. The margin would have been larger if Edgard Zayas didn’t wrap up on him in the final sixteenth.
“I thought he would run a good race, but I didn’t expect to see what I saw,” Nicks said. “He’s trained well since, and between hurricanes he’s shipped around a bit, so I am not worried about taking him over. The track is a little different, though, so we’ll have to wait and see how he handles it. “
He will break from post 3 with Zayas riding again.
Reed Kan and Always a Dreamer look like the main threats.
The Juvenile Turf appears to be a wide-open event.
Nauti Buoy rates a close look in the one-mile race that drew eight horses.
He won his debut going five furlongs on turf July 2 at Laurel Park, but was overmatched in his next two starts at Saratoga in the Grade 3 Sanford and Grade 3 With Anticipation. In his latest start for trainer Erin McClellan, he finished fifth in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity won by Therapist. Therapist is undefeated in three starts and repeated in the $100,000 Awad on Oct. 28 at Belmont.
The son of Mizzen Mast should appreciate the easier company he is facing and could be dangerous with the blinkers coming off in his first start for trainer Lilli Kurtinez.
He will break from the rail with Zayas riding.
Salambo, trained by Garcia Rodolfo, has the best speed and considering his dam and only sibling are turf winners, he should be okay running on turf the first time.
The X set the pace before tiring going a mile on turf in a first-level allowance race Oct. 20 at Keeneland and could be dangerous if Gaffalione can get him to settle early.
In his only start on firm turf for trainer Ben Colebrook, The X rallied to win his debut in a maiden special weight race Aug. 4 at Ellis Park.
Partly because she is trained by Michael Maker and will be ridden by Gaffalione, Homemade Salsa will likely be a hot favorite in the one-mile Juvenile Fillies Turf.
She also is coming off a runner-up finish going a mile against open company in the $75,000 Our Dear Peggy on Sept. 30 at Gulfstream, and she has the pedigree to handle her first turf assignment.