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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap comes our way from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida this Saturday, March 7. A purse of $300,000 will be on the line when horses four years old and upward take to Gulfstream's main track and go one mile.
Six older entries will take part in the Gulfstream Park Handicap - race 10 on Gulfstream Park's busy Saturday card. Post time is 5:00 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all six entries for this Grade 2 stakes.
Private Zone - had a string of four straight second place finishes including the 2012 Grade 3 Vernon Underwood, the Grade 1 Malibu and the Grade 2 Palos Verses in January, 2013. He went on to a two race win streak including the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational September 28, 2013. Private Zone has six starts since - a terrific five length win last time out in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct November 29 followed a respectable third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a terrific win in the 2014 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park September 27, a fourth in the Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx and a second last year's Grade 2 Cigar Mile. Private Zone has looked good in his last two starts, has three wins, a second and a third in his last five dirt starts looks for his third win in four starts Saturday. He has posted four straight bullet workouts in preparation for this race. Martin Pedroza rides the 122 pound highweight from post 5.
Wicked Strong - was last seen recording a DNF after clipping heels and falling in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in September - a result that followed a second to V.E. Day in the Travers Stakes August 23 and good win over Tonalist in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 26. This after consecutive fourth place finishes - in the Belmont Stakes and in the Kentucky Derby and an eye-opening win - in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. Wicked Strong has 11 career starts with three wins, two seconds and a third place finish and had been in every start last year before the disappointment of the Gold Cup. Rajiv Maragh has been tabbed to ride from post 2 in Wicked Strong's first race in six months and what he hopes is a strong bounceback effort.
Honor Code - Shug McGaughey trainee has just five career starts with three wins and two second place finishes. He was on the Triple Crown trail last year before sustaining an injury to his right leg and was out of racing between March and November of 2014. He finished second in the Grade 1 Champaign Stakes in October, 2013, won the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct a month later and has just two starts since - an Allowance Optional Claiming last time out at Aqueduct followed a second in an Allowance way back in March. Honor Code make his first start this year and first graded stakes start in 16 months from the rail with Javier Castellano in the saddle.
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Valid -Marcus Vitali trained gelding has 23 career starts with eight wins, four seconds and four third place finishes. He has placed in eight of his last nine starts with four wins over that span. Last time out was a good win on this track in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes February 7 after a fourth in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes here January 10, a second in the minor Harlan's Holiday Stakes in December and a pair of victories including the minor Eight Miles West Stakes in October. Valid has been very competitive the last year, has won three out of his last four starts at this distance and should be in the mix Saturday. Paco Lopez has the call from the outside post.
East Hall - William Kaplan trained gelding has 21 career starts with five wins, four seconds and four third place finishes. He enters off a somewhat disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap here after a good second in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic here January 17, a nice win by two lengths in the minor Millions Classic Preview Stakes at Gulfstream Park West November 8 and another good win - in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby October 4. Before that was a disappointing sixth in the Grade 2 Super Derby and a string of good results in minor stakes action - a win at 9-1 odds in the Ohio Derby in July and consecutive seconds - behind Wildcat Red the Quality Road Stakes and the Sir Bear Stakes. East Hall has three wins and three seconds in his last eight starts overall - competitive virtually every time out. Luis Saez will be in the saddle from post 3.
Loverbil - Jorge Navarro trained gelding has 32 career starts with nine wins, five seconds and four third place finishes but makes his graded stakes debut Saturday. He enters on a three race win streak - a Starter Optional Claiming last time out, the minor Express Stakes December 6 and an Allowance Optional Claiming in November. Before that he was runner-up in two straight starts. Loverbil steps up in competition in good form but will likely be in tough from gate 4 with Carlos Marquez guiding him.
Race 10 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:00 PM.
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