Sensational Sophomore Unbeaten at Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL â€“ Stakes-winning sophomore Atreides makes his return to South Florida as co-highweight in the $50,000 Aventura Handicap that highlights Sundayâ€™s 10-race card at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Marty Wolfson for Stonestreet Stables, the 3-year-old son of Medaglia dâ€™Oro will carry 121 pounds, including regular rider Edgard Zayas, from Post 5 in a nine-horse field set to go one mile on the main track.
Multiple stakes-winning Florida-bred Best Plan Yet shares topweight with Atreides, who has not raced since suffering his first career loss when finishing sixth as the favorite in his two-turn debut, the Indiana Derby (G2) on October 4.
Wolfson intended to send Atreides to New York for the Cigar Mile (G1) on Nov. 29 at Aqueduct, but scrapped the plan the week of the race. The next goal is the $150,000 Halâ€™s Hope (G3) for 4-year-olds, also at a mile, on Jan. 10 at Gulfstream.
â€œI had no jockey, and the weather was so cold up there,â€ Wolfson said. â€œI wanted to get a prep for him before the Halâ€™s Hope and this looks like a good spot.â€
Atreides began his career with three sparkling victories, all at Gulfstream and each with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, including the one-mile Monarchos Stakes on Aug. 30 by 17 Â½ lengths. Zayas was aboard for all three wins.
From there, Wolfson sent the Stonestreet homebred to Indiana Downs, where he broke flat-footed and raced behind horses for the first time, never getting in contention and finishing next-to-last, beaten 10 Â¼ lengths by upset winner East Hall, also based at Gulfstream with trainer Bill Kaplan.
â€œPut a line through his last race,â€ Wolfson said. â€œI certainly didnâ€™t want to see him back to last. He wonâ€™t be so far back this time, although I donâ€™t think heâ€™ll be in front of Montana Cowboy. A mile looks like the perfect distance for him.â€
Also trained by Wolfson, Montana Cowboy looks to be the clear pacesetter stretching out beyond 6 Â½ furlongs for the first time. Peachtree Stablesâ€™ Grand Slam colt broke his maiden on Oct. 24 and was a narrow second in an optional claiming allowance on Nov. 14, both during Gulfstream Park Westâ€™s inaugural Fall Turf Festival meet.
A Jacks or Better Farm homebred trained by Stanley Gold, Best Plan Yet has made four of his last five starts on turf, winning the Forty Niner Stakes on Aug. 23 at Gulfstream and finishing eighth in the Showing Up Stakes on October 18 at Gulfstream Park West.
â€œI need to do something with him, and if he runs good weâ€™ve got our eye on the Tropical Park Derby,â€ Gold said. The $75,000 Tropical Park Derby for 3-year-olds will be run at 1 1/16 miles Dec. 20 at Gulfstream.
â€œIt fits in nicely,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a little close to the Derby, but itâ€™s the only option so weâ€™ll run a mile on the dirt and go to the Tropical Park Derby if he shows he can step up and be good enough.â€
Winner of the Foolish Pleasure and Florida Stallion In Reality stakes last fall, Best Plan Yet spent the winter knocking heads with some of the countryâ€™s top 3-year-olds, finishing off the board in the Gulfstream Park Derby, Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). Jesus Rios, up for the Forty Niner as well as his maiden victory last August, will ride from Post 2.
â€œHe doesnâ€™t have too many conditions left, so itâ€™s either got to be a really wide open allowance race or a stake or an overnight handicap,â€ Gold said. â€œThis is whatâ€™s there. Iâ€™d prefer the turf, but the distance is good so weâ€™ll give it a shot.â€
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito entered two horses for the Aventura. Quiet Ruler has faced older horses in each of the last three starts, including his maiden victory in August at Saratoga and a runner-up finish as the favorite on Oct. 9 at Keeneland going seven furlongs, his longest race to date.
Also running for Zito is Tony B, purchased by Leonard Riggioâ€™s My Meadowview Farm as a 2-year-old in training for $500,000 last March. Winless in two starts at 2, the Old Fashioned colt won a $20,000 maiden claiming race by 11 lengths in July at Saratoga and has been second in two subsequent allowance starts, most recently by a head at Keeneland on Oct. 11.
Also entered are Shiva Curlin, Dudeman, Urban Cool and General Shamâ€™mah.
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