Casse, Maker & Zerpa Enter for Turf Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – It would seem fitting if Phil Gleaves saddled the winner of Saturday’s $75,000 Forty Niner Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After all, the race is named after the 1988 Fountain of Youth (G1) and Travers (G1) winner trained by Woody Stephens, who Gleaves worked alongside as assistant trainer and exercise rider.
So Gleaves will have two shots to claim the 1 1/16 mile turf event in Keith Long’s Megeve and Vegso Racing Stable’s Fast Fire. The two will meet eight other 3-year-olds including John Oxley’s Tizzarunner, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Keystoneforvictory, Gelfenstein Farm LLC’s undefeated Forced Motion, Telling Tony, Fleming and Titanium Heart.
Megeve, named after a ski resort in France, has placed in six of nine starts, four of six on the turf. After breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park West last fall, Megeve finished fourth twice after troubled trips this winter at Gulfstream before breaking through with a late-running neck victory Feb. 15 in the Sage of Monticello Stakes. The son of Trappe Shot returned April 21 and finished third behind Telling Tony and Fleming in a starter optional claimer.
“Megeve is an improving sort,” Gleaves said. “We gave him a bit of a break after the Sage of Monticello and he came back and ran a good race to finish third last time out. He had to go wide turning for home, but he was still closing and coming. I think he fits well here.”
Fast Fire, a son of War Chant bred and owned by Peter Vegso, had failed to break his maiden after seven starts. But since Gleaves has removed blinkers, Fast Fire is unbeaten in two starts. The colt broke his maiden May 5 at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf and came back May 30 to win a starter optional claimer.
“Since we took the blinkers off two races back he’s been doing very well,” Gleaves said. “I think he fits with this group.”
Gleaves has named Tyler Gaffalione on Megeve and John Cruz on Fast Fire.
Gulfstream’s leading rider Emisael Jaramillo has been named on Forced Motion, a son of Henrythenavigator who is unbeaten in his only two starts for trainer Gilberto Zerpa. Unraced as a juvenile, Forced Motion broke his maiden at Gulfstream March 12 at five furlongs on the turf for a $35,000 claiming tag. The colt returned two months later and won a $50,000 starter optional claimer sprinting on the turf.
Tizzarunner, who brought $325,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale 2-year-olds in training sale, broke his maiden at Woodbine last summer and was second in the Swynford and third in the Grey Stakes (G3). The Maryland-bred son of Tizway hasn’t run since finishing second at Woodbine in November in an allowance optional claimer. Trained by Mark Casse, Tizzarunner will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez.
Keystoneforvictory, trained by Mike Maker and to be ridden by Rafael Hernandez, broke his maiden in a $25,000 claimer on the turf in the winter at Gulfstream. The Shakespeare colt comes into the Forty Niner off an allowance victory at Churchill Downs May 15.
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