Surprise Wedding Favored for Turf Debut in Miss Gracie Mama Joyce Seeks Repeat in $50,000 Sea of Grass Handicap
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A half-sister to the Sept. 3 $200,000 Susan’s Girl winner Starship Bonita, Surprise Wedding has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $100,000 Miss Gracie Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The Miss Gracie is carded as the 11th race on a 13-race program, (12:15 p.m.) as live racing resumes at Gulfstream Park following a Hurricane Irma-imposed hiatus. Gulfstream will welcome back patrons with food and drink specials in the Breezeway, Tiki and Ten Palms Restaurant.
Saturday’s 11-race program will offer plenty of full fields for bettors with 113 horses (including also eligible) entered.
After running seven furlongs in 1:22 while scoring a commanding nine-length optional claiming allowance victory Aug. 6, William Rainbow’s homebred would probably be an even money favorite if Saturday’s stakes for Florida-bred 3-year-old fillies were scheduled to be run on the main track. However, the Miss Gracie is carded for 7 ½ furlongs on turf and Surprise Wedding’s six career starts have all been run on dirt.
Stakes-placed at 2, the High Cotton filly is one of three siblings with more than $100,000 in earnings on dirt, but she is also a half-sister to four-time turf winner Kantharos Chongal.
Trainer David Fawkes is also scheduled to saddle Sweet Tooth Haven for her turf debut in the Miss Gracie. The stakes-placed daughter of Vineyard Haven, a two-time optional claiming allowance winner during the spring and summer at Gulfstream, is out of Smokin Again, who won twice on turf and produced turf winner Live Forever.
Jose Batista is slated to ride Sweet Tooth Haven, while Jesus Rios has been named to ride Surprise Wedding for the first time.
Emisael Jaramillo, who was aboard for Surprise Wedding’s main track romp last time out, has opted to ride Gran Cherry, who proved herself on turf last time out. The Victor Barboza Jr.-trained daughter of First Dude scored an off-the-pace triumph in a mile optional claiming allowance on turf Aug. 6 after previously winning an optional claiming allowance in a race moved from turf to a sloppy track.
Barboza is also scheduled to saddle Two Step Blues for the first time in the Miss Gracie. Claimed for $30,000 for owner Mac Nichol, the daughter of Two Step Salsa has a win and four second-place finishes from eight starts on grass. Edgard Zayas is slated to ride Two Step Blues for the first time.
A two-time winner over the main track during the spring and summer at Gulfstream Park, Sweet Distinction is scheduled to make her first start on turf Saturday. Trainer Stanley Gold trains the daughter of With Distinction for owners/breeders Teresa and David Palmer.
Katinka, who is stakes-placed and a winner on turf, has been rated second in the morning line at 3-1. The Michael Yates-trained filly, who finished second in the Martha Washington Stakes July 4, finished off the board in the Pucker Up (G3) after a troubled start at Arlington International Aug. 12.
Princess Victoria, Graceful Heart and Lonesome Palm, as well as main-track-only entrants Dude Fantasy and Rashette, round out the field.
Carded as the 11th race on a 13-race program, the Miss Gracie will be followed by the $50,000 Sea of Grass Handicap, a mile overnight handicap on the main track for fillies and mares.
Donald R. Dizney LLC’s Mama Joyce has been installed as the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight. Claimed for $40,000 at Belmont Park June 16, the daughter of First Dude won at first asking for her new connections at Gulfstream Park Aug. 11 with an optional claiming allowance victory by a nose. Trainer Ralph Nicks named Edgard Zayas to ride the Florida-bred 4-year-old filly.
Money Or Love, a two-time stakes winner during the spring and summer at Gulfstream, is rated second in the morning line at 2-1. Owned and trained by Anthony Russo, the 5-year-old daughter of J Be K finished second by a neck in the swiftly run Sugarloaf Key last time out. Ramsey Zimmerman has the riding assignment.
Winning for Sarah, Dressed in Heels, She Takes Heart, Atenea, Lirica and Arty’sbourbongirl round out the field.
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Saturday
Rising star Tyler Gaffalione, who has ridden in major stakes throughout the East Coast and Midwest during the spring and summer, will visit Laurel Park Saturday to ride in six of the seven stakes on Fall Festival of Racing card.
The 22-year-old jockey, who currently is leading the 2017 national jockey standings with 224 victories, has been named to ride multiple graded-stakes winner Awesome Banner in the De Francis Dash. The Jacks or Better Farm homebred is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.
Awesome Banner is coming off a second-place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga July 29.
Gaffalione’s busy afternoon will also include mounts aboard Majestic Dunhill (3-1) in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity, Mantoulin (5-2) in the Laurel Turf Cup, Juno (4-1) in the All Along, Dream Mover (6-1) in the Laurel Dash, and Paquita Coqueta (20-1) in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash.
The 2015 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding apprentice will venture to Presque Isle Downs Sunday for stakes engagements aboard multiple-stakes winner War Correspondent (9-5) in the $200,000 Presque Isle Mile and Dixie Serendade (4-1) in the $100,000 Mrs. Henry Paxson Memorial.
Despite his frequent jaunts out of town, Gaffalione has been able to maintain a 10-win advantage over Edgard Zayas, 64-54, during the Summer Meet at Gulfstream, where he captured his fourth riding title during the Spring Meet.
Gaffalione, who is represented by agent Matt Muzikar, rode in his first Kentucky Derby this year, finishing a troubled 14thaboard the Todd Pletcher-trained Patch, whom he had ridden to a runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.