GULF­STREAM Old pros bring class to op­tional claimer

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

HAL­LAN­DALE BEACH, Fla. – A cou­ple of horses with plenty of Grade 1 ex­pe­ri­ence try­ing to get back to their best form – Break­ing Lucky and Im­per­a­tive – will help liven up Fri­day’s $48,000 main event at Gulf­stream Park, a sec­ondlevel al­lowance and op­tion­al­claim­ing race at a mile.

Break­ing Lucky was third in both the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill and the Grade 1 Whit­ney at Saratoga in 2017 and sec­ond in the Grade 1 Clark Hand­i­cap in 2016 when trained by Reade Baker. On Fri­day, he will make his third start since be­ing trans­ferred to trainer Ge­orge Weaver’s barn for the 2018 cam­paign.

Break­ing Lucky fin­ished a solid third be­hind Petrov re­turn­ing from an 11-month lay­off in a seven-fur­long op­tional claimer in Au­gust at Saratoga, and eighth after show­ing brief speed in the Grade 3 Lukas Clas­sic in Septem­ber at Churchill Downs, won by Mind Your Bis­cuits.

“He’s a nice, classy horse who ran well for us off the bench at Saratoga then just didn’t show up in the Churchill race,” said Weaver. “It kind of left us scratch­ing our heads and is one of those things we re­ally don’t have an an­swer for. He’s do­ing fine now, and it’s time to lead him over there. . . . If he runs his best, he should have a good chance to win.”

Weaver wasn’t happy that Break­ing Lucky drew the rail in the field of 11 3-year-olds and up. Luis Saez will ride.

“Ob­vi­ously I’d much rather he’d be drawn out­side, al­though he showed some speed in the seven-eighths race at Saratoga,” said Weaver. “He’s got Luis aboard and he’s a class horse who’ll just have to deal with the post. What he did at Churchill Downs was prob­a­bly the worst per­for­mance of his ca­reer, and he is get­ting a lit­tle older and a lit­tle longer in the tooth. But this is the soft­est spot he’s been in for a while, and we’re still hop­ing he’ll be able to get back to where he was ear­lier in his ca­reer.”

Im­per­a­tive is win­less in five starts since cap­tur­ing the Grade 2 Charles Town Clas­sic in April 2017. Im­per­a­tive turned in dull ef­forts in both the Grade 1 Wood­ward at Saratoga and Shad­well Turf Mile at Keeneland ear­lier this sea­son be­fore re­bound­ing to fin­ish third in an op­tional claimer at Lau­rel four weeks ago.

An 8-year-old geld­ing by Bernar­dini, Im­per­a­tive has won nearly $3 mil­lion.

Break­ing Lucky and Im­per­a­tive aren’t the only mem­bers of this lineup with Grade 1 ex­pe­ri­ence. Sha­gaf, fifth in the 2016 Wood Me­mo­rial be­fore be­ing pulled up later that spring in the Ken­tucky Derby, re­turns for trainer Chad Brown off a 19 ½-month ab­sence. He will be re­united on Fri­day with jockey Irad Or­tiz Jr., who guided the Shad­well home­bred to three con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries to open his ca­reer, in­clud­ing in the Grade 3 Gotham.

The field also fea­tures re­cent win­ners Mu­cho Prospect, Mr Atila, and Bib­li­cal, along with re­stricted stakes win­ner Third Day and speedy Belle Tapis­serie.

Kukulkan 3-5 for Cla­sico

Post po­si­tions were drawn Wed­nes­day for Satur­day’s 11-race all-stakes pro­gram, which will be­gin with six 2-year-old stakes and con­clude with the five-race Cla­sico In­ter­na­cional del Caribe pro­gram, topped by the $300,000 Cla­sico del Caribe. First post on Satur­day is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.

The Cla­sico del Caribe – or Caribbean Clas­sic – is led by the Mex­i­can sen­sa­tion Kukulkan, who has won all 13 ca­reer starts. Kukulkan drew post 3 in a field of 10 3-year-olds rep­re­sent­ing four Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries – Mex­ico, Panama, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. Kukulkan was es­tab­lished as the 3-5 fa­vorite for the 1 1/8-mile Clas­sic by morn­ing­line maker Jay Stone.

“He’s trained well, adapted well, was very pro­fes­sional with his school­ing,” said Kukulkan’s trainer, Fausto Gu­tier­rez, who’ll also send out Kandin­sky in the Clas­sic. “He’s ready.”

Gu­tier­rez, who won the Caribbean Clas­sic here a year ago with the filly Jala Jala, said he was pleased with the post po­si­tion draw for Kukulkan, who’ll be rid­den for the first time by Irad Or­tiz Jr.

“I un­der­stand the in­side post po­si­tions are bet­ter here,” said Gu­tier­rez. “So for me, it’s good for ob­vi­ous rea­sons.”

From the rail out, with rid­ers, the Caribbean Clas­sic field will in­clude My Rat­ing Mate (Venezuela), Leonel Reyes; Dario Ruth (Panama), John Ve­lazquez; Kukulkan; El Salsero (Puerto Rico), Ed­win Cas­tro; Sol De Orion (Panama), Jose Lez­cano; Senor Ben Hur (Panama), Jose Or­tiz; Kandin­sky (Mex­ico), Javier Castel­lano; Apis­tos (Venezuela), Luis Saez; Lit­er­ario (Mex­ico), Manuel Franco; and Bukowski (Venezuela), Emisael Jaramillo.

Or­tiz, with three vic­to­ries, and Ve­lasquez with two, com­bined to win all five stakes on last year’s Cla­sico In­ter­na­cional del Caribe card here. It was the first time the event had been held out­side of Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean since it be­gan in 1966.

EMILY SHIELDS

Break­ing Lucky has run com­pet­i­tively in Grade 1 stakes, and will try to get back to that form in Fri­day’s fea­ture.

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