Jala Jala, Cuadra San Jorge's star filly & upset winner of the Clasico del Caribe in spectacular fashion a year ago at Gulfstream Park, returns to South Florida for a chance at making history in Saturday's $100,000 Copa Confraternidad.
The 1 ¼-mile Copa Confraternidad for 3-year-olds and up on the main track is one of five stakes worth more than $700,000 in purses as part of the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, Latin America and the Caribbean's premier Thoroughbred event being hosted by Gulfstream for the second consecutive year.
In 2017, Gulfstream became the first pari-mutuel facility outside Latin America or the Caribbean to host the Clasico Internacional del Caribe since its inception in 1966. This year's main event, the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe for 3-year-olds, will see Jala Jala's undefeated stablemate Kukulkan go after his 14th consecutive victory.
Gulfstream will also play host to six $75,000 stakes for juveniles on turf and dirt as part of an 11-race program that gets under way with an 11:50 a.m. first post.
2018 Copa Confraternidad Odds & Entries
Race 10 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:16 PM
|Victor Barboza, Jr.|
|2||Jala Jala (MEX)||9-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|3||Mr. Jerry (MEX)||20-1||Elvin Gonzalez
|4||Inspirato (MEX)||15-1||Manuel Franco
|5||Black Widow (VEN)||12-1||Edgard Zayas
|6||Bold Master||12-1||Emisael Jaramillo
|Victor Barboza, Jr.|
|7||Dynamo (PAN)||10-1||Miguel Vasquez
|9||Fray Angelico (PAN)||9-2||Luis Saez
Bred in Mexico, where she is based with trainer Fausto Gutierrez, Jala Jala is a 4-year-old daughter of Maryland-bred Grade 3 winner Point Determined that skipped over a sloppy, sealed track last December to win the Clasico del Caribe by nine lengths at odds of 10-1.
A victory on Saturday would make Jala Jala the first filly to win the Clasico's premier race for both sophomores and older horses. Panamanian colt El Tigre Mono won the Clasico in 2016 and the Copa Confraternidad in 2017.
"Jala Jala has been very good here. This is going to be a very historical race because she would be the first filly to win the two big competitions, the Derby and the race for the older horses. It is very nice this year. The expectations are good for our stable," Gutierrez said. "She is doing as well going into this race as she was at the same time last year, and now she knows the place better. It's very good."
Gutierrez recalled the excitement of last year's Clasico, when he also ran third with the forwardly placed Joyme. As the field entered the stretch, Jala Jala had rallied from far back on the outside to take the lead with Joyme second, separated by five lengths.
"Last year she ran in an entry with another filly, Joyme, and all the time I watched the other one because she was fighting for the first position," Gutierrez said. "When they got to the last part of the race, she went very easy to the front but, in that moment, [Jala Jala] was going very fast and then the two fillies were in front. I thought, `We are so close.'"
Unlike last year, when she won one of three starts prior to the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, Jala Jala enters the Copa Confraternidad on a four-race win streak including the Handicap de Las Estrellas (G1) May 26. She got a brief freshening before returning to win the Clasico La Raza Sept. 29, and most recently gutted out a head decision in the Clasico Otono Oct. 27.
As with last year's Clasico del Caribe, Jala Jala will be facing males again in the Copa Confraternidad while stretching out another eighth of a mile. Though she has never gone 1 ¼ miles previously, each of her past two races have come at 1 3/16 miles.
"This horse has had a very good adaptation and she has a very good chance to win. She has done well with everything, so we come to win the race," Gutierrez said. "She's as good this year as she was last year. After the Clasico she ran six races and in one of them set a track record. She is in perfect condition and ready to run."
Irad Ortiz Jr., locked in a duel with younger brother, Jose, for the 2018 Eclipse Award as North America's top jockey, will have the mount once again on Jala Jala from Post 2 in the field of nine. The elder Ortiz won three Clasico races last year, the other two going to Hall of Fame countryman John Velazquez.
Jala Jala will be up against some familiar competition in the Copa Confraternidad in Panama's Fray Angelico, Puerto Rico's Justiciero and Mexico's Inspirato, who ran second, fifth and seventh, respectively, in last year's Clasico del Caribe.
A 4-year-old son of multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Concerto trained by Alberto `Droopy' Paz Rodriguez, Fray Angelico has won five of his nine starts this year including each of his last two, an allowance and the Clasico Raul Espinosa Gold Cup (G2) 13 days apart, the latter on Oct. 28.
Fray Angelico, already a winner at 1 ¼ miles, also won the Clasico Heraclio Barletta Bustamante (G2) in March and was third in the Clasico Francisco Arias Paredes y Alberto Espinosa (G1) and Clasico Union de Preparadores (G3) in his other stakes attempts this year.
"He's mature. He's grown. A mile and a quarter he handled beautifully. He got beat badly by Jala Jala. I don't know if she's in top form also, but he's in top form. If she's not in top form, we can give her a fight," said Rodriguez, who owns more than 6,400 career victories.
"He's put on a lot of muscle. He turned out to be a beautiful horse. He's very sound, easy to train, and he always performs well," he added. "Last year, he had the 12 post position. At a mile and a quarter, the post position won't matter. That should help to get him closer."
Two-time defending Championship Meet leading rider Luis Saez has the mount from outside Post 9.
Fifth last year, Panamanian-bred 5-year-old Dynamo is the lone returning horse from last year's Copa Confraternidad. He enters the race with three consecutive runner-up efforts, the most recent coming to Fray Angelico in the Clasico Raul Espinosa Gold Cup.
In addition to Justiciero, Puerto Rico is also represented by Bold Master and champion Exclusivo, L.A.R. Stable Corp.'s Exclusivo, by Grade 1 winner Warrior's Reward, began his career in the U.S. in 2015 and after two races returned to his native country where he has reeled off 15 consecutive wins.
Trained by Jose Arroyo, Exclusivo missed his entire 4-year-old campaign but won the Clasico Puerto Rico Futurity (G1) at 2, the Clasico Antonio Mongil Jr. Stakes (G2) and Clasico Antonio Fernandez Castrillon (G2) at 3, and the Clasico Antonio R. Barcelo Stakes (G2) and Clasico Wiso G Stakes (G2) this year.
"[He is] adapting very well to the track, its surroundings and the local weather," Arroyo's assistant, Fernando Castro, said. "[He's] eating well and working well for the [race]."
Justiciero and Bold Master have been under the care of Gulfstream-based trainer Victor Barboza Jr. Justiciero swept Puerto Rico's Triple Crown in 2017 and was second choice in last year's Clasico del Caribe, where he raced near the back of the pack early before rallying to finish a neck away from fourth.
Emisael Jaramillo, a record four-time winner of the Clasico del Caribe, will ride Bold Master while Jose Ortiz is named aboard Justiciero, who is winless in three starts this year.
"Bold Master is a horse that is improving, and he's a speed horse. That's why we put Jaramillo on him, to get the maximum out of that speed," Barboza said. "Justiciero ... didn't perform his best in the [Clasico]. He runs from off the pace, so he'll wait for a duel up front to take advantage."
Also entered are Venezuela's multiple Group 2 winner Black Widow and Mexico's Group 1-placed Mr. Jerry.