W. L. McKnight Handicap 2015 at Gulfstream Park

Dave Bond | OTB Writer
Updated: December 07, 2016 -- 1:35 PM ET

Las Vegas, NV - Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida will play host to the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight Handicap on Saturday, December 26. Horses three years old and upward will take to Gulfstream's turf track and race 1 1/2 miles for the winner's share of the $100,000 purse.

A large field of 12 will give it a go in the W.L. McKnight - race 9 on Gulfstream's Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:05 PM. Let's take a look into the past performances of all 12 combatants for this Grade 3 stakes.

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Da Big Hoss 3-1 - has seven wins, a second and two third place finishes in 14 career starts for trainer Michael Maker and enters off an OK sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Before that was a nice four race win streak - in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup September 14, in his stakes debut - the listed John's Call Stakes at Saratoga August 26, an Allowance Optional Claiming score in July 31 and a Claiming win in June. Da Big Hoss had looked untouchable before last time out and will be out for a strong bounce back Saturday. Javier Castellano has the mount on the 120 pound highweight and morning line favorite from post 11.

Kaigun 7-2 - 2014 winner of the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine, Mark Casse trained gelding also finished second in two other Grade 1 stakes last year - the Manhattan Stakes in June and behind Wise Dan in the Maker's Mile in Keeneland. He has just six starts this year - a decent second last time out in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap followed consecutive OK fourths - the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International in September and the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. He also had a third in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes August 23, a third in an Allowance July 31 and a fourth in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita in January. He ended 2014 with a terrific win over Za Approval the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar November 28 but also had a tenth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Kaigun has five wins, five seconds and three third place finishes in 24 career starts and looks for his first win this year in so-so form. Joe Bravo gets the call on the second betting choice from post 10.

W. L. McKnight Handicap 2015 | Remaining Contenders

War Dancer 4-1 - Bill Mott trainee has 24 career starts with four wins, five seconds and four third place finishes. He won the 2013 Grade 2 Virginia Derby and has been up and down since. Last year's good results include a third in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, a nice win in the 1 1/2 mile Grade 3 Louisville Handicap May 24 and a good second in the Grade 2 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes in April. He has two runner-up finishes and a third place finish in seven starts this year but enters having failed to place in his last three starts overall. Last time out was a fourth in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct November 14 after a seventh in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park October 10 and a close fourth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes here August 29. Before that was one of his seconds - the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap August 1, a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes June 6 and a good second behind Twilight Eclipse in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes May 9. War Dancer has placed in just one of his last five starts and hopes for his first win since May, 2014 from post 5 with Junior Alvarado guiding him.

Charming Kitten 8-1 - Todd Pletcher trainee raced to a ninth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and has been inconsistent since. Career highlights include a win in the minor Belmont Gold Cup Invitational June 6, 2014 and seconds in the 2013 Grade2 Virginia Derby and the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby in October, 2013. He had a pair of Allowance Optional Claiming scores last year as well. Charming Kitten enters off a sixth in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct November 14 which followed a good second in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes in October, a seventh in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga September 7, a second in the minor Lure Stakes in August, an Allowance Optional Claiming score in June and nearly a full year away from the track. He now has six wins, seven seconds and two third place finishes in 25 career starts and looks for his first graded stakes win in his sixteenth try. John Velazquez will be aboard trying to accomplish that goal on a track Charming Kitten has recorded two wins in the past - from the post 9.

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Roman Approval 10-1 - started his career in South America and has been OK since arriving in North America. Last time out was an OK second in a Starter Stakes which followed a Starter Allowance score November 1, a respectable third in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup, a fourth in the Grade 3 American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington August 15 after setting the pace and a second in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes in July. Roman Approval has seven wins, 12 seconds and three third place finishes in 27 career starts and looks for his first stakes win from gate 4 with Edgard Zayas aboard.

Morning Calm 12-1 - Michelle Nihei trainee won two straight races on this track in the spring including the minor Raymond Earl Handicap in May but went on to finish off-the-board in his next three starts. He was an OK second last time out in the minor Spider John Stakes at Gulfstream Park West October 25 after a sixth in the minor John's Call Stakes, a fifth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap August 22 and another fifth in the minor Belmont Gold Cup in June. Morning Calm has been a tad inconsistent but returns to his favorite track Saturday having placed in just one of his last four starts. He looks for his first graded stakes score with Luca Panici in the saddle from gate 2.

Hollywood Idol 15-1 - Ralph Nicks trained colt makes his stakes debut Saturday having posted two wins and two second place finishes in eight career starts. Last time out was a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Belmont Park October 15 after a fourth, a second and a win respectively in similar races this past summer. He takes his huge step up in competition in OK form - from the outside post 12 with Jose Carabello in the reins.

Roccia d'Oro 15-1 - lightly raced Thomas Albertrani trained Irish bred colt has just five career starts with two wins and a third place finish. He won his first two starts in Italy but finished fifth in the Group 2 Derby Italiano before shipping. Since arriving in North America he has two Allowance Optional Claiming starts. Last time out was a third at Aqueduct November 18 which followed a fourth at Belmont Park in October. Roccia d'Oro has been OK so far but will likely be in tough in his major step up in competition. Rafael Manuel Hernandez has been tabbed to ride from post 3.

St. Albans Boy 20-1 - has 21 career starts with just four wins and three third place finishes. He finished sixth in this race last year and has placed in just three of nine starts since. Last time out was a seventh in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap November 14 which followed a good win in the minor Laurel Turf Cup October 31, a decent third in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes October 15 and a fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup in September. St. Albans Boy hopes for his first graded stakes score Saturday and enters having placed in two of his last three starts - as good as he's been in quite a while. Paco Lopez will be in the iron hoping to gain a little consistency from gate 6.

Manchurian High 20-1 - finished third in this race last year during a stretch in which he placed in six straight races. He followed that third with a good win in the minor Florida Sunshine Millions Turf and five straight off-the-board finishes including a fourth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf in February and the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes in May. He has looked a tad better since however - an Allowance score last time out at Keeneland October 2 followed a respectable third in the minor John's Call Stakes at Saratoga in August. Manchurian High now has nine wins, three seconds and nine third place finishes in 38 career starts and looks for his first graded stakes score from post 7 with Luis Saez aboard.

Amigo 30-1 - made his graded stakes debut November 21 at Gulfstream Park West and finished a respectable third in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap. Before that were after 17 career starts with two wins, six seconds and two third place finishes. He has won two of his last four starts ahead of this race as well - an Allowance Optional Claiming two starts back October 24 and a maiden score at Gulfstream Park in September. Has now placed in three of his last four starts overall but looks to be in over his head in this one. Emisael Jaramillo has been tabbed to ride the co-longest shot in the field from gate 8.

Beyond Smart 30-1 - Graham Motion trained colt started his career in Europe with mixed results but has been OK in North America - 10 starts here with five wins and two second place finishes here. Last time out was an OK second in the minor Alphabet Soup Handicap September 19 after an Allowance Optional Claiming score in August and an eighth in the minor Leemat Stakes in July. He has just one graded stakes start which resulted in a tenth in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico May 16. Beyond Smart now has five wins and four second place finishes in 13 career starts - not a whole lot is expected. Emma-Jayne Wilson has been tabbed to ride the co-longest shot in the field from the rail.


2015 W. L. McKnight Handicap Entries & Odds

Race 9 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:05 PM.

Entry Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Beyond Smart Emma-Jayne Wilson H. Motion
30-1
2 Morning Calm Luca Panici Michelle Nihei
12-1
3 Roccia d'Oro (IRE) Rafael Hernandez Thomas Albertrani
15-1
4 Roman Approval Edgard Zayas Michael Maker
10-1
5 War Dancer Junior Alvarado William Mott
4-1
6 St. Albans Boy Paco Lopez Kelly Rubley
20-1
7 Manchurian High Luis Saez Lilli Kurtinecz
20-1
8 Amigo Emisael Jaramillo Ronny Werner
30-1
9 Charming Kitten John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
8-1
10 Kaigun Joe Bravo Mark Casse
7-2
11 Da Big Hoss Javier Castellano Michael Maker
3-1
12 Hollywood Idol Jose Caraballo Ralph Nicks
15-1

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Aqueduct 12:24 PM
Australia A 9:15 PM
Australia B 9:30 PM
Australia C 10:10 PM
Batavia Downs 6:15 PM
Birmingham Eve 7:25 PM
Birmingham Mat 3:59 PM
Charles Town 7:00 PM
Daytona Beach Eve 7:25 PM
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Gulfstream Tropical 12:40 PM
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Laurel Park 1:09 PM
Mahoning Valley 12:46 PM
Mobile Greyhound Park 3:59 PM
Monticello Raceway 12:30 PM
Naples-Ft Myers Eve
Naples-Ft Myers Mat 11:46 AM
Naples-Ft Myers Twi 2:00 PM
New Zealand 9:22 PM
Northfield Park 6:00 PM
Palm Beach Mat 1:02 PM
Penn National 6:00 PM
Pompano Park 7:20 PM
Sanford Mat 1:30 PM
Sarasota Mat 12:32 PM
Shelbourne Park (IG) 3:00 PM
Southland Mat 5:00 PM
St Johns Eve 7:45 PM
St Johns Mat 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay Downs 12:29 PM
Tri-State Eve 7:00 PM
Turf Paradise 2:40 PM
Turfway Park 6:15 PM
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