Maker well stocked for Claim­ing Crown

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Mike Welsch – David Gren­ing – Steve An­der­sen

Trainer Mike Maker and his prin­ci­pal own­ers Ken and Sarah Ram­sey have been the dom­i­nant force in the Claim­ing Crown for many years, com­bin­ing to win 14 races in the se­ries, and once again they are primed for a ma­jor as­sault on the event Satur­day at Gulfstream Park. Maker en­tered 14 horses in the nine races on this year’s Claim­ing Crown pro­gram, most of them for the Ram­seys. Among the Maker con­tenders are Lieu­tenant Seany O, owned by Three Di­a­monds Farm, in the $200,000 Jewel on dirt and the Ram­sey-owned St. Bo­re­alis in de­fense of her ti­tle in the $125,000 Tiara on turf.

“We plan for this event ev­ery year,” said Maker shortly af­ter his ar­rival in south Florida on Wed­nes­day.

The weather forecast calls for thun­der­storms on Thurs­day and Fri­day and a pos­si­bil­ity of show­ers on Satur­day, which could re­sult in the sched­uled turf races be­ing switched to the Seany O for Three Di­a­monds Farm for $32,000 this sum­mer at Saratoga. The 4-year-old Lieu­tenant Seany O did not take long to re­turn div­i­dends on the in­vest­ment, cap­tur­ing an en­try-level al­lowance race at Bel­mont Park two starts later.

“He’s been get­ting bet­ter with ev­ery race since we’ve had him, and I think he has a big chance on Satur­day,” said Maker. “We ob­vi­ously took him with the Claim­ing Crown in mind. But he had plenty of con­di­tions left, too, as well as starter el­i­gi­bil­ity, and we got lucky to al­ready have won an al­lowance race with him at Bel­mont Park.”

Royal Posse, win­ner of the Evan Ship­man for New York­breds this sum­mer at Saratoga and more re­cently run­nerup in the Em­pire Clas­sic for New York-breds at Bel­mont, will likely be fa­vored in the 1 1/8-mile Jewel. His trainer,

Rudy Ro­driguez, also en­tered Mr Palmer in the race. Other key con­tenders in­clude Freestyler, Mal Guapo, and Indy­cott.

St. Bo­re­alis is one of three de­fend­ing Claim­ing Crown cham­pi­ons who will be back Satur­day, weather per­mit­ting, along with Grande Shores and Lover­bil. Grande Shores won the seven-fur­long Rapid Tran­sit here a year ago, while Lover­bil cap­tured the six-fur­long Ex­press.

Grande Shores, a model of con­sis­tency for the past two sea­sons, squeezed out a nose de­ci­sion over Old Times Sake un­der starter-al­lowance con­di­tions at Gulfstream Park West on Oct. 14. The win was his sec­ond in eight starts this year. Grande Shores held off Goodtimehadbyall by a neck in the 2014 Rapid Tran­sit. De­fend­ing his ti­tle will not come eas­ily in a strong field led by Trou­ble Kid.

“Peo­ple were ex­pect­ing him to blow them away in his last start, but you’ll never see him blow any­one away,” said Stan­ley Gold, trainer of Grande Shores. “All his wins are nail-biters. I think he needed the race and he seems to be do­ing just as well com­ing into the race this year as last. I like the whole idea of the Claim­ing Crown, es­pe­cially be­ing able to run over our home track, and it’s really been nice that he’s been able to stay in good form for a year and is able to come back to de­fend his ti­tle. It sounds from the forecast like it could be a mess out there Satur­day. But as long as the track’s not a con­crete road where speed keeps car­ry­ing, we should be fine.”

Lover­bil ral­lied to a neck vic­tory over Quiz Whiz in the 2014 Ex­press. Trained by Jorge Navarro for owner Richard Ravin, Lover­bil opened his 2015 cam­paign win­ning five of his first seven starts but has been off the board in his last two out­ings and has not raced since fin­ish­ing fifth in the New Jer­sey Breed­ers’ Hand­i­cap at Mon­mouth Park on Sept. 12.

Aqueduct: Gar­land of Roses

Princess Vi­o­let, a Grade 1 win­ner ear­lier in the year, will re­turn from a six-month lay­off in Satur­day’s $100,000 Gar­land of Roses Stakes, the fi­nal stakes to be run over Aqueduct’s main track in 2015.

Princess Vi­o­let, one of seven en­tered in the six-fur­long event, is back with trainer Mike Hush­ion af­ter making her last three starts with trainer Linda Rice. Hush­ion bat­tled leukemia ear­lier in the year but has been back train­ing on a full-time ba­sis since Saratoga.

Princess Vi­o­let, a 4-year-old New York-bred daugh­ter of Of­fi­cer, won the Grade 1 Madi­son at Keeneland in April, a couple of weeks af­ter be­ing trans­ferred by owner Barry Schwartz to Rice. She de­feated, among oth­ers, Stopcharg­ing­maria, who came back to win the Breed­ers’ Cup Distaff.

Fol­low­ing the Madi­son, Princess Vi­o­let fin­ished sec­ond to Wed­ding Toast in the Grade 2 Ruf­fian and then fifth to Wed­ding Toast in the Grade 1 Og­den Phipps in June.

She emerged from that race with an an­kle in­jury and was sent to the farm be­fore be­ing re­united with Hush­ion, who said it wasn’t easy try­ing to find a race for Princess Vi­o­let.

“I kind of had to hurry up to get to this race,” Hush­ion said.

Princess Vi­o­let shows five works lead­ing up to the Gar­land of Roses, in­clud­ing a half-mile move in 47.44 sec­onds Nov. 23, the fastest of 26 at the dis­tance that day.

Princess Vi­o­let will be rid­den by Ju­nior Al­varado. The oth­ers en­tered were Clas­sic Point, La Mad­rina, Medaglia d’ar­gento, Nuf­fsaid Nuf­fsaid, Room for Me, and Ju­bi­lant Vi­sion, a re­cent $40,000 claim by Naipaul Chat­ter­paul, who sup­ple­mented her to this race.

Los Alami­tos: Soviet Prob­lem

Her per­for­mance in Satur­day’s $100,000 Soviet Prob­lem Stakes at a mile at Los Alami­tos could de­fine Lucky to Win’s win­ter cam­paign.

Lucky to Win won her sec­ond start, which came in a maiden race at 5 1/2 fur­longs at Del Mar on Nov. 20. The Soviet Prob- lem Stakes, re­stricted to Cal­i­for­nia-bred 2-year-olds, will be Lucky to Win’s first start around two turns. The filly is by Lucky J.H. and owned by breeder John Har­ris.

“I think she can han­dle it,” trainer Sean Mccarthy said of the dis­tance. “Off her two races, I’m con­fi­dent she can get the mile. This will give us an idea if two turns will be her style. It will help an­swer some ques­tions for 2016.”

Mario Gu­tier­rez is booked to ride Lucky to Win, who fin­ished fourth in her de­but at Santa Anita in Oc­to­ber.

Lucky to Win is part of a pro­jected field of eight in the Soviet Prob­lem. The race is led by Pa­tri­otic Di­a­mond, who won the Gen­er­ous Por­tion Stakes at Del Mar in Au­gust and an al­lowance race for Cal­i­for­niabred 2-year-old fil­lies there on Nov. 26. There is one other stakes win­ner in the field in Just Google Me, who won the Bar­retts Debu­tante Stakes at Los Alami­tos in Septem­ber, and was ninth in the Golden State Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies at Del Mar on Oct. 29.

LAU­REN KING/COGLIANESE PHO­TOS

St. Bo­re­alis, with Rafael Her­nan­dez up, wins last year’s Claim­ing Crown Tiara at Gulfstream.

KEENELAND/COADY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Princess Vi­o­let, win­ner of Keeneland’s Grade 1 Madi­son, re­turns in Satur­day’s Gar­land of Roses.

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