Bullet Gone Astray Tries Turf in Armed Forces Nicks, Gaffalione, Jack or Better On Top In Standings
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Bullet Gone Astray is the only stakes winner entered for Saturday’s $75,000 Armed Forces Stakes at Gulfstream Park, but the juvenile son of Gone Astray is also one of few starters to have never run on turf.
An impressive winner in his first two starts for trainer Henry Collazo - breaking his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream in June before going on the road and running away with August’s $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes in West Virginia by nine lengths - Bullet Gone Astray has proven his affinity for a dirt surface, but Collazo wouldn’t mind having some options with his charge, either.
After stretching out and suffering his first career defeat in Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes (G1) in early September, Collazo caught himself thinking, “Why not now?” for a turf experiment.
“He’s doing great,” Collazo said. “He came back from that little vacation we had, and he really didn’t seem to mind being home at all. He pretty much relishes Gulfstream, and about five days after we got him back, we took some blood, and everything was actually on the upside from the last time we took a blood count on him. He’s feeling good, and he’s training good, and I was really happy with the way he was coming around. I wanted to support racing down here, since they support us, so what better time is it to try the grass than [closing day for the summer meet] at Gulfstream?”
“[Turf] is a natural surface for a horse, so I think we shouldn’t have any problems with it,” he added. “I’m hoping that he takes a liking to it, and if he does, it just gives us another venue to be able to run him at.”
While his turf ability will ultimately be unknown until Saturday, Collazo is encouraged by how first-crop sire Gone Astray’s progeny have performed thus far on both surfaces. Bullet Gone Astray and It’s High Time, another South Florida-based runner who captured the Florida Sire Stakes Desert Vixen division on dirt in August, are Gone Astray’s top performers, but he is also siring turf stakes winners at a 29 percent clip.
As Collazo maps out a plan for the remainder of Bullet Gone Astray’s freshman campaign, he has one date in mind moving forward - November 7 - when Gulfstream Park West plays host to the Juvenile Turf Stakes, at a mile on the grass, and the Juvenile Sprint Stakes, at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track. Should Bullet Gone Astray perform well Saturday, Collazo will be happy to make a choice.
"All I can tell you is, we’re more than likely going to run on November 7, but I’m not sure which will be the best spot for him,” Collazo said.
Collazo also reported that Mucho Mas Macho, winner of the 2013 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2), has returned to the work tab following a nearly six-month layoff. The son of Macho Uno breezed a half-mile in 48.47 seconds on Sept. 27, the 12th best of 43 workers.
“He’s doing great,” Collazo said. “We’re just bring him back from a little respite. He’s 7 years old now, so he might be a step slower and maybe a grade less, but he’s still one of my fondest horses, and he’s such a joy to be around that we’re just going to try him, and hopefully he gets back to his old ways of going.”
Nicks, Gaffalione On Top In Standings
Going into the final weekend of racing at Gulfstream, trainer Ralph Nicks leads all trainers with 33 victories. His closest competitor is Antonio Sano with 29. Trainer Stanley Gold leads trainers in earnings with $1.044 million. Nicks is second with $1.013 million.
Apprentice jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who loses his "bug" next weekend, will be the runaway winner of the jockey's title. Gaffalione entered Friday with 78 wins, 25 more than his closest competitor Eddie Castro.
In the owner's race, Jacks or Better Farm has 13 wins for the meet, one more than Frank Carl Calabrese.
Mandatory Payouts Saturday
Gulfstream Park closes its summer racing season Saturday with the $1.45 million Florida Sire Stakes finale and mandatory payouts in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi 5.
The Rainbow 6 - hit Sunday with a $64.80 ticket for $130,000 - had a carryover Friday of $5,699.58 while the Super Hi 5 had a carryover of $3,333,32.
The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day's pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
The Rainbow 6 will start anew Wednesday when Gulfstream Park West opens its second Fall Turf Festival.