Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap is on tap for this Sunday, February 9 from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida. Horses four years old and upward will take to Gulfstream's turf track and go 1 1/8 miles looking for the winner's portion of the $300,000 purse.
A field of eight older entries has been confirmed for the Gulfstream Park Handicap - race 11 on Gulfstream's Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:31 PM. Let's take a brief look into the credentials of all eight combatants for this Grade 1 race.
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Amira's Prince - Irish bred colt has looked unstoppable since shipping from Ireland - two straight Allowance Optional Claiming scores on North American soil were followed by a win in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream February 16 and a at the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds March 30. That makes four starts in North America and four impressive wins for the Bill Mott trained colt. He hits the track for the first time in nearly 10 months Sunday looking to keep the impressive streak going and has looked good in workouts ahead of the GP Handicap. John Velazquez will be aboard from post 6 hoping to make if 4-for-4 for Amira's Prince at Gulfstream.
Boisterous - has won seven of his last 16 starts for trainer Shug McGaughey including the 2011 and 2012 Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct and the 2011 and 2012 Knickerbocker Stakes but he hasn't exactly been terrific as of late. Last time out was a sixth in the 2013 Knickerbocker after an OK third in the Grade 2 Bowling Green September 7 and his worst performance in a year- an eighth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga August 17. Before that was wins in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes June 9 and in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes July 13 at Belmont Park and second place finishes in the Grade 3 Ben Ali in April and the Grade 3 River City Handicap in November. Boisterous was on fire at this time last year but has taken a step back the last six months or so. Hopes are that a move to Todd Pletcher's barn will snap Boisterous out of his funk. Javier Castellano gets the call from post 8.
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Imagining - won two straight races in the summer of 2012 - both at Belmont Park including an Allowance Optional Claiming and an Allowance after a very good second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November 2011. He was out of racing for nine months before returning to an Allowance score at Keeneland April 13, 2013. He enters on an impressive two race win streak - the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct November 16 and the overnight Bowl Game Stakes at Belmont Park in October which followed an uncharacteristic sixth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in September and another win in the minor Idle Rich Stakes at Saratoga in August. Imagining has won three of his last four starts and four of his last six and is in fine form for the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
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Summer Front - Seven time stakes winner and Christophe Clement trainee is coming off a terrific win over Tetradrachm and Nikki's Sandcastle in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes here January 11 and he finished a good second to Silentio in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park November 29. But he had a disappointing seventh before that in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile October 5 after two terrific graded stakes wins - in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park August 25 and in the Grade 3 Miami Mile at Calder in April. Summer Front has three wins and a second in his last five graded stakes starts with a seventh sandwiched in there - it's safe to say that he is in very good form.
Tetradrachm - Bill Mott trained gelding had a $100,000 Allowance Optional Claiming score by three lengths at Saratoga August 3 in his first outing for his new trainer after a pair of seconds in Allowance races. Last time out was a very good second in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes behind Summer Front here January 11 after another second in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder December 7, a fourth in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker October 12 and a respectable third in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga August 31. His only other stakes action came in January 2013 - an eighth in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds. He has five wins, five seconds and two third place finishes in 20 career starts.
Nikki's Sandcastle - has 36 career starts with 9 wins - the biggest coming two back in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland October 26. He followed that with a respectable third last time out behind Tetradrachm in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale here January 11. He had a two race win streak to end 2012 as well - the El Prado Stakes December 22 here and the Starter Stakes December 1 also at Gulfstream. Nikki's Sandcastle had has struggled lately however before his latest score - a pair of sixths including the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida in February was followed by a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Arlington Park August 17. He has been up and down in his career, but has looked good with a win and a third in his last two graded stakes starts.
Charming Kitten - Todd Pletcher colt was third in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes just ahead of Rydilluc at Keeneland April 13 after a good second in the Grade 2 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream March 3 and a nice win in the minor Kitten's Joy Stakes January 20, 2013. He raced to a ninth in the Kentucky Derby and was second in the competitive Penn Mile Stakes June and followed that with another good second - in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby behind only War Dancer at Colonial Downs July 13. He was fourth in the competitive Grade 3 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga August 9 and rebounded October 5 with yet another second - in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby. Charming Kitten fell back to earth again November 1 in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby but most recently bounced back yet again with an Allowance Optional Claiming score on this track January 11. Jose Lezcano gets the mount.
Lochte - Marcus Vitali trained gelding failed to place in his first two career starts but has hit the board in his other seven career starts including two wins, two seconds and three third place finishes. He enters having won two of his last three starts on this track - an Allowance Optional Claiming last time out January 24 and a maiden win December 14 in his seventh career start. Sunday marks his first foray into stakes company.