OTB Race Previews
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Following two straight wins including a Grade 2 stakes to start his career, and running second in a Grade 1 to a horse that has emerged as the leading Triple Crown contender in the East, the connections of Green Light Go were understandably eager to see what 2020 would bring.
Three months since his promising sophomore season stalled after a disappointing debut, the Stronach Stables' homebred gets the chance to restart his campaign against five rivals in Saturday's $75,000 Roar Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The 6 ½-furlong Roar for 3-year-olds is one among three stakes worth $250,000 in purses on an 11-race program, along with the $100,000 Musical Romance for Florida-bred females 3 and up sprinting seven furlongs and $75,000 Powder Break for fillies and mares 3 and older at one mile on the turf, featuring Grade 1-winning millionaire Got Stormy.
First race post time is 12:45 p.m.
Race 6 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, May 16 - Post 3:16 PM
|1||Ricki Ticki Taffi||12-1||Edgard Zayas
|2||With Verve||3-1||Edgar Prado
|3||Double Crown||5-1||Cristian Torres
|4||Cajun Casanova||4-1||Miguel Vasquez
|5||Green Light Go||6-5||Luis Saez
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Green Light Go was an open-length winner of his first two races last summer, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight at Belmont Park and the 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special (G2), before finishing second as the favorite behind Tiz the Law in the one-mile Champagne (G1) to cap his juvenile season.
After some consideration was given to the 1 1/16-mile Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) on the same program, Green Light Go kicked off his 3-year-old season in the seven-furlong Swale (G3) Feb. 1 at Gulfstream. He wound up third, a neck out of second, beaten more than seven lengths by winner Mischevious Alex, who would go on to capture the Gotham (G3) in March.
"I thought it wasn't great, but it didn't set up right for him," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "It looked like there was a lot more speed than they showed, and the field was in a ball all the way around. When he had his run-up there really wasn't anywhere to go, and he ended up falling back on the turn. He made a little run to be third, but we were hoping for something a little better."
Though he missed some training with a minor illness, Green Light Go shows nine works since he last raced, the most recent a half-mile breeze in 47.50 seconds May 7, the fastest of eight horses at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
"He didn't do well after the race. Nothing soundness-wise, but he just didn't go on and develop the way we wanted," Jerkens said. "He got a little sick and it was a long time getting over it. Leading up to the Fountain of Youth, he just wasn't up to snuff. But, he looks like he's on the way. I didn't want to start him out in something that would knock him out. It'll be over three months since he ran so this should be a good spot to start him back."
Green Light Go, by Hard Spun, will carry 123 pounds including jockey Luis Saez from Post 5.
"He's been training well," Jerkens said. "He should give a good effort. It's kind of been disappointing he didn't develop like we had hoped to be a candidate for the big races but, who knows, he still might later on in the year. We just have to get him back going and see what happens. There's a lot of big races still out there."
For the third time in their young careers but first in a stake, promising sophomore stablemates Double Crown and Ournationonparade will line up in the same starting gate for the Roar. Purchased privately by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing after Double Crown beat Ournationonparade in a Sept. 8 maiden special weight at Laurel Park, when each was handled by a different trainer, the Maryland-bred geldings have since shared a Gulfstream Park shedrow with trainer Kathy Ritvo.
Ritvo won the Roar in 2017 with Classic Rock, also for Dean and Patti Reeves - the same connections that campaigned $5.6 million earner Mucho Macho Man, whose five graded-stakes wins were capped by the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).
"They're both very nice horses. It's hard to say which one's better," Ritvo said. "We actually worked them easy together the other day. You'll see them both fighting for the wire. It's like they're smarter than they should be for a young horse. They both have great attitudes. They're a pleasure to have, both of them."
Double Crown stalked pacesetting Ournationonparade before forging a neck victory at Laurel in their debuts, but Double Crown emerged from the race with a foot issue that sidelined him for the rest of 2019. Ournationonparade captured the Maryland Million Nursery in his subsequent start and was third, beaten a half-length, in the Feb. 29 Hutcheson at Gulfstream, both at six furlongs.
"He always shows up. I think this is going to be a good distance for him," Ritvo said of Ournationonparade. "He wants to train in the morning and he wants to run. He's very professional."
With Double Crown ready to return, Ritvo entered both he and Ournationonparade in an open six-furlong allowance against older horses April 26 at Gulfstream, run over a sloppy, sealed main track. Ournationonparade stumbled after a quarter-mile and lost rider Irad Ortiz Jr., briefly impeding Double Crown, who came with a steady late run to get up for second by a length to well-regarded Hop Kat.
"The last time they raced together, the one clipped heels so he didn't get a chance to run and the other one got bothered a little by the situation that happened with him, and he still came around with the long layoff and finished second," Ritvo said. "I'm excited for both of them. They're tough. They're doing really well."
Nik Juarez will ride Ournationonparade from outside Post 6, while apprentice Cristian Torres gets the return call on Double Crown from Post 3. Ournationonparade carries 123 pounds, Double Crown 119.
"It's the time of year when these horses mature, and you have to just let them come along into themselves. They're both lightly raced and we like them a lot. We think a lot of them, and we're just giving them enough time to mature," Ritvo said. "No bumps in the road, just letting them come into themselves and not having to put a lot of pressure on them. But they've both come back very, very well."
Eric J. Wirth's 3-year-old homebred With Verve won twice in 21 days during the Championship Meet, taking a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance against state-breds by 3 ½ lengths, then rallying for a neck triumph at odds of 18-1 in the open Hutcheson Stakes Feb. 28 at six furlongs. Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, aboard for both victories, rides back from Post 2.
Smart Angle's Cajun Cassanova is four-for-eight lifetime with two stakes wins, both in five-furlong turf sprints at Gulfstream - the Hollywood Beach last fall and the Texas Glitter March 21. The Cajun Breeze colt broke his maiden sprinting on the dirt last May at Gulfstream.
Completing the field is Robin Team Show Racing Corp.'s Rikki Ticki Taffi, racing first off the claim for trainer Oscar Gonzalez. Second to Shivaree in the six-furlong Limehouse Jan. 4, the Field Commission colt was haltered for $50,000 out of a runner-up finish March 11, both at Gulfstream.
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