Green Mask Finds His Niche in Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint

December 10, 2019

Souper Colossal To Make Sophomore Debut on Turf in Texas Glitter

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A lot has changed for Green Mask since he entered the Wesley Ward barn as a 2-year-old, but one thing has remained unchanged.

The colt has talent, but Ward has had to experiment to find out where his trainee would best utilize it.

Green Mask, a son of Mizzen Mast and the Forestry mare Bonsai Beauty, broke his maiden by an emphatic 5 ¼ lengths in his career debut at Keeneland in October of 2013 and set high expectations for himself. Ward thought he might have a Kentucky Derby contender on his hands, so the colt was sent west for a start in the 1 1/16-mile Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park. But the colt faded in his first try around two-turns, causing Ward to begin to rethink things. Two years later, Green Mask, now a gelding, has emerged as a stakes-winning turf sprinter and a top contender in Saturday’s $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes.

“I had him early on, and he came out running like he was the second coming when I started him,” Ward said. “Then I was a little disappointed with his second start. I had really high aspirations for him when I ran him at Hollywood Park, and he kind of let us down a little bit, where we thought we had ourselves a Derby horse. Now, he’s kind of come in to where we see that he’s found his niche as a turf sprinter. I think he’s going to be really good at that. He’s really come into form. I just recently gelded him here a couple of months ago, so I think that’s really helped him settle his mind a little bit and focus on running. We’re very excited to run him. He’s doing awesome. He trains like a tiger.”

Since switching surfaces in May of 2014, Green Mask has competed exclusively in stakes, and he hasn’t finished worse than second when running less than a mile on the lawn. In his turf debut, he took the Paradise Creek Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths over a ‘good’ Belmont Park turf course. After subsequently finishing fourth, beaten just 2 ½ lengths in the Manila Stakes at a mile in June, the Kentucky-bred was given the rest of 2014 off and gelded, and in his first start off the shelf, he returned to sprinting and ran a strong second in the Jan. 10 Turf Dash Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, beaten only by fellow Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint entrant Bold Thunder.

“It was his first start in a long time, and he was recently gelded, so I thought that would settle his mind a little bit,” Ward said. “Mario Pino (who was aboard in the Turf Dash) is a fantastic rider - he’s 10th-leading rider all-time in wins – and he had been breezing the horse and had been breezing from behind on the horse, so he thought he’d let him break [at his own pace]. It was a very fast, contentious pace, as most turf sprints are, so [Pino] just kind of let him get into stride and then he picked him up. Unfortunately he couldn’t catch the winner, but the winner broke the track record that day, so it was understandable.”

After being off for six months, Green Mask, who normally stalks the pace just off the front-runners, sat eight lengths off the pace in tenth in the early going of the Turf Dash before making his run. Ward expects him to return to more of that stalking style on Saturday when he goes to the post under Rafael Hernandez.

“I think he’ll be laying just a little closer,” Ward said. “He shipped in there (to Tampa), and sometimes it’s just a different surface. So everything was new for him, and he had come off quite a long layoff, but he’s come out of his last two works very well going in to this, so I think he can show a little bit more speed, and hopefully we can get the trip. There are a lot of variables when you’re a turf sprinter. When you’re trying to come from off the pace, you can get caught up in traffic, so you need a little racing luck.”

I’m Boundtoscore similarly enters the Turf Sprint off a runner-up stakes finish. The 5-year-old son of Even the Score will cut back to five furlongs after setting the pace and fading in the A. J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana Grand on August 6, but the gelding will be tested in his first start off a six-month layoff. After winning the Summer Stakes (G2) at Woodbine and contesting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) as a 2-year-old, I’m Boundtoscore missed all of his 3-year-old season before returning to make seven starts in the first half of 2014.

El Botas will make his stakes debut in the Turf Sprint. The Jorge Navarro-trainee took an upper-level allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 4 and has won four of his last five starts on both dirt and turf by a combined 13 lengths. Prudhoe Bay, a 4-year-old son of Songandaprayer, has also found success over both surfaces, having won the Jersey Shore Stakes (G3) on dirt at Monmouth Park in August after finishing a respectable second, beaten just a ½-length, in a turf allowance the start prior. He enters the Turf Sprint off a fifth-place finish in the Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) at Parx on Sept. 20.

The Turf Sprint field is rounded out by Amelia’s Wild Ride, second in a Gulfstream allowance on Dec. 21; Cajun Breeze, fifth in the Turf Dash behind Bold Thunder and Green Mask; stakes-placed Bye Bye Bernie; and Ancil. The Turf dash will be run on a 13-race Saturday card that also includes the Donn Handicap (G1) and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), as well as the Suwannee River (G3), Fred Hooper (G3), and Texas Glitter stakes.

Souper Colossal To Make Sophomore Debut on Turf in Texas Glitter

The Eddie Plesa, Jr.-trained Souper Colossal will return to the races for the first time since contesting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in Saturday’s Texas Glitter, a five-furlong turf stake for 3-year-olds.

After stablemate Mr. Jordan posted back-to-back emphatic victories in South Florida in the Juvenile Sprint and Smooth Air stakes at Gulfstream Park West, the attention shifted away from Souper Colossal, a two-time stakes winner in his own right. But with Mr. Jordan now on the shelf after suffering a ligament injury in a December workout, Souper Colossal has the chance to regain the spotlight.

After winning his first three starts by a combined 11 lengths, Souper Colossal shipped westward for the Breeders’ Cup, but a win on Championship Weekend was not to be, and the son of War Front finished a troubled seventh in the Juvenile. Following that start, the winner of the Tyro and Sapling stakes at Monmouth Park was given some time off at owner Live Oak Stable’s farm in Ocala before returning to training with Plesa’s string at Gulfstream Park West in December. The Texas Glitter will be the colt’s first start on turf.

“He’s been working very, very well and he’s exactly where I want him to be,” Plesa said. “The plans are to run him in the Texas Glitter and just use that as a prep maybe for the Swale (G2, at Gulfstream on Feb. 28).”

Souper Colossal will face It’s Not Me, a multiple stakes-winning son of D’wildcat. It’s Not Me, trained by Jorge Navarro, will wheel back for the race just 11 days after winning the OBS Sprint Stakes at the Ocala Training Center by an eye-opening 8 ¾ lengths on Jan. 27. The 3-year-old gelding previously ran third in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 3 and won the Nov. 29 Buffalo Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park West.

Moon River, winner of the Jamestown Stakes at Laurel in his career debut, and well as Nun the Less, who finished second in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs in October, were also entered in the Texas Glitter. Chocolate Wildcat, D’tumbling Dice, Posse Dreamin, Pow Wow Pal, and Social Request round out the field.

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