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Todd Pletcher, a winner of 15 consecutive training titles at Gulfstream Park's Championship Meet, has entered both Coal Front and Copper Town in the $150,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park Saturday, January 26.
Pletcher, who won the Fred W. Hooper last year with Tommy Macho, said he only anticipates running one of the two horses he entered in the one-mile dirt race for older males, most likely Copper Town, due to common ownership involving Coal Front.
The Fred W. Hooper, which drew a field of 10, is one of six graded stakes on the card and is part of a program that features the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the inaugural running of the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), the richest races on either surface in North America.
Race 9 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 3:38 PM
|1||Coal Front||9-5||John Velazquez
|2||Storm Advisory||12-1||Robby Albarado
|3||Conquest Big E||20-1||Paco Lopez
|4||Breaking Lucky||9-2||Luis Saez
|5||Eye of a Jedi||30-1||Jose Batista
|6||Aztec Sense||7-2||Emisael Jaramillo
|8||Copper Town||6-1||Javier Castellano
|9||Unbridled Juan||8-1||Alex Cintron
|10||Mo Dont No||20-1||Romero Maragh
Coal Front, an eye-catching winner of the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park last month, likely will scratch from the Fred W. Hooper and head to Arkansas for the $500,000 Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park Feb. 18.
But Pletcher has an exciting prospect in Copper Town, who is the most likely to represent his stable in the Fred W. Hooper. Owned in partnership by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and SF Racing LLC, the 5-year-old son of Speightstown seeks his first stakes win on Saturday.
A winner of 3 of 5 lifetime starts, Copper Town finished eighth in his stakes debut in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct Dec. 1. The winner that day, Patternrecognition, and runner-up, True Timber, are both entered in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
Pletcher is willing to forgive Copper Town's performance in the Cigar Mile and expects a better performance Saturday.
"He didn't break well and got shuffled back at the start. Everything went out the window at that point, said Pletcher, who will saddle Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup. "He's a horse who we have always felt like has a lot of potential. He had a few hiccups along the way. We're hoping to put together a campaign where he can develop his talent. He's demonstrated to us graded stakes-like ability in his races."
In October of 2017, Copper Town trounced Pegasus entry and Grade 1 winner Patternrecognition in an allowance race in New York, winning by 6 1/2 lengths, with Patternrecognition finishing second.
"He won at a mile and sixteenth impressively at Belmont, beating Patternrecognition," Pletcher said. "I think that shows itself as a quality race and we are confident he can handle the mile, if he gets away cleanly and gets good position."
Javier Castellano has the assignment aboard Copper Town, who drew Post 8. Coal Front drew the rail and John Velazquez was named to ride.
Breaking Lucky, an earner of more than $1.1 million, finished eighth in the inaugural running of the 2017 Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Since then he has changed barns from the recently retired Reade Baker to George Weaver.
Owned by West Thoroughbreds, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Eric Young, and R.A. Hill Stable, Breaking Lucky enters the Fred W. Hooper off of a tremendous performance in a one-mile allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 7. He won by 8 1/2 lengths that day under Luis Saez, who has the return call.
The win marked the 7-year-old's first victory since coming into Weaver's care last year, and his first time in the winner's circle since capturing the 2016 Seagram Cup Stakes (G3) at Woodbine.
"This horse has some back class and he ran some really big races when he was with Reade Baker," Weaver said. "We thought he could have a big performance like his last race in him when we ran him. He ran a good race for me at Saratoga off the layoff and then when we ran him at Churchill, he didn't show up at all. We didn't 100 percent know he would run the race he did at Gulfstream, but we were hopeful that he would go back to some of the performances he had in the past."
Weaver said the one mile might prove to be Breaking Lucky's forte going forward.
"When we ran him seven furlongs off the layoff at Saratoga, he showed a decent amount of speed in that race, and didn't ran too bad," Weaver said. "For the majority of his career, prior to us having him, he was always running two turns against some of the best horses in the world and running credibly. But I kind of liked how he ran seven furlongs at Saratoga off the bench for us and when it was time to pick his next race when he came to Florida, I wanted to go back to the one-turn mile configuration and see exactly if he could yet it because it's two different types of races. You never know, maybe he will jump up and be a good miler."
Breaking Lucky drew Post 4.
Also entered are Aztez Sense; a winner of his last eight starts, including the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes; Conquest Big E, a graded winner at Gulfstream Park; Unbridled Juan, winner of the Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel Park in his last start; Storm Advisory, the Mr. Prospector runner-up; Eye of the Jedi; Fellowship; and Mo Dont No.
|South Beach||4yo & up, F&M||7.5 Furlongs (Turf)||$125,000 USD|
|Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint||4yo & up||5 Furlongs (Turf)||$150,000 USD|
|Ladies Turf Sprint||4yo & up, F&M||5 Furlongs (Turf)||$150,000 USD|
|Hurricane Bertie||4yo & up, F&M||7 Furlongs||$150,000 USD|
|La Prevoyante Handicap||4yo & up, F&M||1 1/2 Miles (Turf)||$200,000 USD|
|W.L. McKnight Handicap||4yo & up||1 1/2 Miles (Turf)||$200,000 USD|
|Fred W. Hooper Stakes||4yo & up||1 Mile||$150,000 USD|
|Pegasus World Cup Turf||3yo & up||1 3/16 Mile (Turf)||$7,000,000 USD|
|Pegasus World Cup||3yo & up||1 1/8 Miles||$9,000,000 USD|
|Race Tracks||Time (EST)|