Trio of $100,000 Stakes Complement Six Graded Events on Florida Derby Day Healthy Modacious Tries Again in G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks
HALLANDALE, FL – In addition to the six graded stakes that highlight Florida Derby Day, three $100,000 listed races — the Sir Shackleton, Sanibel Island and Cutler Bay Handicap — are part of the 14-race card that gets underway at noon.
The first of the $100,000 undercard stakes to be run is the Sir Shackleton, which is slated as Race 7. The seven-furlong dirt race for 4-year-olds and older males drew nine runners.
The tepid 3-1 morning-line favorite is French Quarter, who seeks his first win for his new connections, trainer David Fawkes and owner Domino Enterprises. They claimed the gelding for $62,500 out of his last race. French Quarter, a winner of his last two starts in six-furlong races at Gulfstream Park, will be ridden by Nik Juarez.
Happy Mesa, the winner of the Selima at Laurel Park last fall, is the 7-2 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Sanibel Island, a mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies. A field of 10 has been entered in the Sanibel Island which will go as Race 9.
Trained by Graham Motion, the 3-year-old Sky Mesa filly exits a very good fourth-place finish as a long shot in the Herecomesthebride (G3), where she encountered traffic problems and was beaten less than two lengths for the victory.
The $100,000 Cutler Bay Handicap, Race 12, drew a field of 10 3-year-old males going a mile on the turf.
The Christophe Clement-trained Dover Cliffs is the 3-1 morning-line favorite. The son of English Channel is making his third start after finishing second in his career debut and winning his next race, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park Feb. 19.
Healthy Modacious Tries Again in G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks
After running twice in 2 ½ weeks earlier this winter, Cash is King and LC Racing’s Modacious is healthy and well-rested heading into her latest stakes engagement, Saturday’s $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
Trained by Parx-based Butch Reid, who winters at Gulfstream Park, the 3-year-old Uncle Mo filly is coming out of a fourth-place finish in the one-mile Davona Dale (G2) March 4, which followed her runner-up finish behind undefeated subsequent Sunland Oaks winner Ghalia in an optional claiming allowance Feb. 15.
That race was a backup plan for Reid, who had targeted the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G2) Feb. 4 at Gulfstream for Modacious’ stakes debut until she came down with an illness.
“She got a little sick on us when we first came down from up north. We ended up missing the Forward Gal and then we kind of squeezed the Davona Dale in there in only 17 days rest. She ran a very credible race over a deep racetrack I don’t think it was really a surface that she handled all that well,” Reid said. “She’s doing real good.”
Modacious drew far outside Post 9 and will be ridden for the first time by Nik Juarez, replacing Irad Ortiz Jr. from the Davona Dale, where she poked her head in front with two furlongs to run before tiring to be beaten four lengths.
“She’s kind of a quirky filly, like in her last start. She kind of got bumped coming out of the gate and ran off with Irad a little bit the first part and was laying much closer than we really wanted to have her,” Reid said. “I think this time we’ve been working on getting her to rate and getting her to relax and putting some good, long gallops in her and she’s been handling it all very well.
“She’s a little bit of a high-strung filly so getting her to relax will be better for us,” he added. “I think it will serve her well at a mile and a sixteenth and as the distances get longer.”
The GP Oaks will be only the fourth career start for Modacious, who debuted with a 6 ¾-length maiden special weight romp Dec. 26 at Parx over next-out winner Bertranda.
“She was very impressive in her debut and that was only off about two months training, not even that long. I only picked her up in the middle of November and we ran her in late December. She came along very quickly, as they say,” Reid said.
“We actually didn’t buy her until late in the year. We didn’t purchase her actually almost until November when we picked her up off the farm in Ocala,” he added. “She didn’t come to me until November of her 2-year-old year so we’ve been a little behind the whole way but she’s turned out to be a very nice filly so we’re excited about her prospects.”
Breakfast at Gulfstream Kicks Off Busy Florida Derby Day
The final Breakfast at Gulfstream program of the Championship Meet will kick off a busy Florida Derby Day on Saturday, April 1.
Breakfast at Gulfstream runs from 8 to 11 a.m. and features a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet, guest speakers and special character appearance. Backstretch tram tours will not be available due to time constraints.
Post time for the first of 14 races Saturday is noon. Anchored by the 66th running of the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1), the program includes nine stakes, six of them graded, worth $2.45 million in purses.
The daily Gulfstream Today handicapping show featuring analysts Gabby Gaudet and Acacia Courtney begins at 10:30 a.m.
There will be a $2 million guaranteed pool in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 that spans races 9-14 if the popular multi-race wager is not solved before then. The 50-cent Late Pick 4 (Races 11-14) will be guaranteed at $750,000 and the 50-cent Late Pick 5 (Races 10-14) will carry a $500,000 pool guarantee.
Divas and Dudes, the Florida Derby hat contest, will be held in the walking ring after the call to post for Race 8. Contestants will ble judged on style and overall appearance. Categories are for girls age 2-12, young ladies age 13-17 and women 18 and over, as well as boys age 2-12 and men 18 and over.