Mil­lions Clas­sic Pre­view Stakes sets up a re­match

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By Mike Welsch Fol­low Mike Welsch on Twit­ter @DRFWelsch

MI­AMI – The first time Jay’s Way and Mr. Jor­dan met, in Jan­uary at Gulf­stream Park in the Sun­shine Mil­lions Clas­sic, the two put on quite a show. Jay’s Way re-as­serted him­self in late stretch af­ter get­ting headed on the lead a fur­long out to post a well-de­served halflength tri­umph for the first stakes win of his ca­reer.

But when the pair meet again Satur­day in the 1 1/16-mile Sun­shine Mil­lions Pre­view, the edge will have to go to Mr. Jor­dan, with his un­blem­ished record in four starts at Gulf­stream Park West and go­ing against a ri­val who has been idle since March 10.

The Sun­shine Mil­lions Pre­view is one of nine Florida-bred stakes worth $75,000 apiece on an out­stand­ing 11-race pro­gram that also in­cludes a pair of maiden spe­cial weight races for 2-yearold state­breds. Post time is noon.

Trainer Ar­mando De La Cerda is fol­low­ing the same plan that worked so well for Jay’s Way last fall and ul­ti­mately led to his game tri­umph in the Sun­shine Mil­lions Clas­sic. Satur­day’s race will be the horse’s first start since a dis­tant sixth-place fin­ish in Tampa Bay Downs Chal­lenger Stakes on March 10.

“We did the same thing last year, gave him plenty of time off to freshen up af­ter a hard fall and win­ter,” said De La Cerda. “And like last year, when it took him a cou­ple of starts be­fore he won an al­lowance and then the Sun­shine Mil­lions, he might need this race Satur­day.

“[Gulf­stream Park West] can be tough for horses who’ve been away like he has. But I ex­pect him to be on the lead, and then we’ll go from there. One thing I do know, he is very game when he’s got the lead in the stretch. Not only did he come back to win the Clas­sic, he also won an open al­lowance in his pre­vi­ous start the same way, af­ter get­ting passed at mid­stretch.”

Mr. Jor­dan is the de­fend­ing win­ner of the Clas­sic Pre­view, hav­ing drawn off by 11 1/2 widen­ing lengths a year ago to re­main un­beaten at Gulf­stream Park West. He has won just once, how­ever, in nine sub­se­quent starts, ral­ly­ing to a 1 3/4-length de­ci­sion in the seven-fur­long Big Drama on May 12 at Gulf­stream Park. Mr. Jor­dan has drawn the rail for the third straight time on Satur­day, a post that was a dis­ad­van­tage in his two pre­vi­ous starts – both one-turn races at Gulf­stream – but should prove an ad­van­tage in two-turn races at Gulf­stream Park West.

Although Jay’s Way and Mr. Jor­dan will at­tract much of the at­ten­tion, the main event is any­thing but a two-horse race with Noble Drama and Deland both com­ing off big wins and the im­prov­ing 3-year-old Weisser com­plet­ing the field.

Trainer David Fawkes or­ches­trated a ma­jor upset with Noble Drama, who ral­lied to cap­ture the one-mile Wild­cat Heir over the more sea­soned pair of Mo Cash and Mr. Jor­dan in the Wild­cat Heir on Sept. 29 at Gulf­stream. The win was the first against older horses for Noble Drama, who proved his met­tle around two turns win­ning a state­bred stakes at one mile and 40 yards last spring at Tampa Bay Downs.

Deland has im­proved steadily since be­ing trans­ferred to trainer Vic­tor Bar­boza Jr.’s barn fol­low­ing his fourth-place fin­ish in the Big Drama in May. Deland has not started since post­ing a pop­u­lar eight-length tally over a sloppy track in the one-mile Mo Ex­cep­tion at Gulf­stream on Sept. 7.

The seven-fur­long Mil­lions Distaff lured a wide open field of 10 Florida-bred fil­lies and mares with Star­ship Bonita and the lightly raced Heires­sall likely to vie for fa­voritism. Star­ship Bonita and Heires­sall are two of six 3-year-olds in the field.

Star­ship Bonita has been fresh­ened since ral­ly­ing to a 2 3/4-length vic­tory in the Sheer Drama nine weeks ago. The win was the first for the daugh­ter of Gone Astray since cap­tur­ing the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl a year ear­lier.

“She’s won around two turns, but I think seven-eighths is her best dis­tance, it’s per­fect for her,” said trainer Steve Dwoskin. “She’s got enough speed to stay close, but she’ll do what­ever the jock wants her to. She’s feel­ing good, train­ing good, and I’m ex­pect­ing an­other big race from her on Satur­day.”

Heires­sall brings a three­r­ace win streak into the Distaff for trainer Terri Pom­pay and fig­ures to be a for­ward fac­tor along with Heav­ens Pul­pit.

“I don’t think it’s go­ing to be an is­sue,” said Pom­pay when asked about Heire­sall mak­ing her stakes bow. “We didn’t just throw her into a stakes. We let her get her con­fi­dence up and let her get ready first.”

Ms Me­shak, a trou­bled but dis­tant sec­ond in the Sheer Drama; Week­end Mis­chief; and the Todd Pletcher-trained stakes win­ner Shang­hai Star­let are also key con­tenders in the Distaff.

BAR­BARA D. LIV­INGSTON

Jay’s Way (right) de­feated Mr. Jor­dan ear­lier this year in the Sun­shine Mil­lions Clas­sic at Gulf­stream Park. In Satur­day’s Clas­sic Pre­view, Mr. Jor­dan seems to hold the ad­van­tage.

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