Spencer brings Ir­ish fla­vor

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Marty McGee

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jamie Spencer is a house­hold name in Bri­tish rac­ing cir­cles, but not so much here in the states. So af­ter trainer Bren­dan Walsh named Spencer to ride a 4-year-old named Bantu on Sun­day at Gulf­stream Park, Walsh was in for a good laugh.

“When the overnight came out, the owner asked me if we were rid­ing a bug­boy,” Walsh said Fri­day by phone from Fair Grounds in New Or­leans.

Walsh has been close friends with Spencer, 38, since their days of youth in their na­tive Ire­land. He is only too happy to team with Spencer, who is in the United States on a work­ing va­ca­tion in the Fort Laud­erdale area and ex­er­cis­ing horses for Wes­ley Ward at the Palm Mead­ows train­ing cen­ter. Coin­ci­den­tally or not, Spencer’s first ride will suit his stretch-run­ning style, as Bantu, owned by Au­drey Otto’s Jamm Ltd., is a deep closer look­ing to get through his first al­lowance con­di­tion in the Sun­day fea­ture, a $51,000 turf mile.

Spencer can be ex­pected to ride oc­ca­sion­ally over the next cou­ple of months at Gulf­stream and Fair Grounds. Ward said he will be putting him on horses for Cool­more and Fitri Hay in the near fu­ture, and Walsh said he will name him on Dubara in the Marie Krantz Me­mo­rial on Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds.

Spencer, a mul­ti­ple cham­pion jockey in Eng­land, is no stranger to Amer­i­can race­tracks. Re­mark­ably, his nine stakes vic­to­ries on this con­ti­nent all have come in Grade 1 turf events, in­clud­ing the 2011 Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion on Cape Blanco and the Natalma on La Pelosa last Septem­ber at Wood­bine.

“He loves it here,” Walsh said. “He’s mostly do­ing it to stay fit for when rac­ing re­sumes over­seas, but also be­cause he en­joys the weather and the life­style.”

Bantu fig­ures to be a mid­dling wa­ger­ing choice in the ninth of 11 Sun­day races. The Green Mo’ster, with Irad Or­tiz Jr. to ride, could come a slight fa­vorite over Le­monist, Pagli­acci, and Vari­ant Per­cep­tion in a well-matched lineup of 10 that in­cludes one main track only de­signee, Cha­ti­ment.

One other al­lowance (race 3), also worth $51,000, is carded on a pro­gram that starts at noon Eastern. Six 3-year-olds will go six fur­longs in search of their first al­lowance tri­umph, with Blue Steel loom­ing a top con­tender for trainer Dale Ro­mans.

Af­ter Sun­day, Gulf­stream goes dark for two days be­fore an­other five-day week be­gins Wed­nes­day.

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