HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gunpowder Farms’ Divisidero has used the Gulfstream Park Turf Course as a springboard to success the past two years. Buff Bradley is hopeful that his Grade 1-winning trainee will kick off yet another lucrative campaign in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2).
“Hopefully, this is going to be a big year for him. We hope to keep him healthy and sound all year and plan the right races for him,” Bradley said.
During the 2015-16 Championship Meet, Divisidero finished third in the Canadian Turf (G3) and second in the Appleton (G3) before attaining Grade 1 status last May with a victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
“When you have a horse running in graded stakes, you want that Grade 1. From a breeding standpoint, that’s the top of the line,” Bradley said.
Shortly after establishing himself as a solid stallion prospect with his Grade 1 score, the son of Kitten’s Joy went to the sidelines following a fifth-place finish in the Manhattan (G1) at Belmont Park last June.
“He never was lame. We did some bone scans on him and he had a little bone bruising enough where I said to the owners, ‘If we give him some time, he’ll be better.” We knew it was something he’d come back 100 percent from,” Bradley said.
Divisidero returned to Bradley’s stable in November with the Fort Lauderdale a target under optimum circumstances.
“He moved forward pretty quickly in getting ready. He had a pretty good bottom to him when I got him. Each week he’s progressed well. I’m really happy the way he’s come along,” Bradley said. “I think after his last work, he was telling me he was ready. (Jockey) Edgar (Prado) commented after his last two works that he was really strong and felt great. He’s coming into the race fresh, and we feel he’s going to run a big race. He’s more mature both mentally and physically.”
Divisidero launched his career over the Gulfstream turf course with an eye-catching late surge from far back to graduate at first asking. The Kentucky-bred turf star came right back to finish a close-up third in the Palm Beach (G3) before venturing to Churchill Downs to capture the American Turf (G2) in only his third career start. He also captured the $200,000 Pennine Ridge at Belmont during his 3-year-old season.
While Divisidero established himself as a deep closer during his first season, he didn’t drop nearly as far off the pace last season.
“He’s got a little more speed and a little bit more into the race, and he still has a good finish,” said Bradley, who once again named Hall of Famer Edgar Prado to ride Divisidero.
More early interest may better serve Divisidero in the 1 1/16-mile Fort Lauderdale, which attracted 12 entries, including 2016 victor Heart to Heart and Flatlined, who finished 1-2, respectively, in the recent El Prado at Gulfstream, as well as 2016 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) winner Luke’s Alley.
Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart registered a front-running triumph in last year’s Fort Lauderdale, defeating a late-closing Luke’s Alley by a half-length. The 6-year-old son of English Channel also posted a front running score in the Appleton, defeating Divisidero by 2 ½ lengths.
Heart to Heart came off a subpar fourth-place finish in the Artie Schiller at Aqueduct in November to score a front-running victory in the El Prado under Julien Leparoux, who has the return mount Saturday.
Flatlined, who finished with a late surge to fall a neck short of catching Heart to Heart in the 7 ½-furlong El Prado, is slated to return in the Fort Lauderdale. Owned by Brian Hytrek, Rodney Paden and Ryan Kuhn, the 5-year-old son of Flatter, who broke his maiden at Gulfstream early during the Championship Meet last year, captured the $150,000 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs last fall.
“The Flatters get better as they get older. He’s 5 now and he’s as good as he can be right now. He’s more or less improved in every race I’ve run him in,” trainer Scooter Dickey said. Joe Bravo has the return mount aboard Flatlined.
“Joe was really high on him after the [El Prado]. He’d never been on him,” Dickey said. “We’re hoping he keeps that up.”
Luke’s Alley took to the Gulfstream turf last year after racing almost exclusively on Woodbine’s Polytrack the previous two years with considerable success. After earning his first Grade 1 win in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap last February, the 7-year-old son of Flower Alley went to the sidelines for eight months before finishing off the board in his Nov. 19 return in the Autumn (G2) over Woodbine’s synthetic surface. Paco Lopez has the mount for Luke’s Alley’s return to the Gulfstream turf.
Other strong candidates in the Fort Lauderdale include the Macagone, who upset Heart to Heart in the Artie Schiller; Night Prowler, who captured the Dania Beach (G3) last season at Gulfstream, and Chad Brown stablemate Almanaar; Jay Gatsby, a close second behind Heart to Heart in the Knickerbocker at Belmont in October; and Fire Away, a Shug McGaughey-trained 5-year-old who is slated to make his stakes debut after winning three of his last four starts.
Rose Brier, the disqualified winner of the Tropical Park Handicap (G3) last time out, Diamond Bachelor, a two-time stakes winner over the Gulfstream turf during the fall; and Copingaway round out the field.
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