Other Cheek Turns to Gulfstream for Saturdayâ€™s Tropical Park Derby McGaughey Ready to â€˜Partyâ€™ in Co-featured Tropical Park Oaks
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL â€“ Other Cheek has produced a pair of graded-stakes placings to recommend his chances of victory in Saturdayâ€™s $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, a 1-1/16 mile turf event for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
The Arnaud Delacour-trained colt is rated second in the morning line at 4-1 behind 7-2 favorite Smooth Daddy, himself a multiple graded stakes-placed colt, in an expected field of 14.
â€œIâ€™m very happy with him,â€ said Delacour from his Tampa Bay Downs stable. â€œHe shipped here from Churchill Downs and has had two breezes since his last race. I believe heâ€™s moving forward.â€
Other Cheek finished second in the Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 15, two starts after finishing third in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park.
â€œI thought he would fit (in the Commonwealth Turf). Before that he had run in the Kent, a Grade 3 at Delaware, and he finished less than two lengths behind a nice horse, Divine Oath, a horse of Todd Pletcherâ€™s who came back to run a good race on Breedersâ€™ Cup weekend,â€ said Delacour, referring of Divine Oathâ€™s third-place finish by a pair of necks in the Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita. â€œI thought he fit, but he needed to improve to win the race. He got beat by a good horse. Heart to Heart is a good horse.â€
Other Cheek has shown consistent progress and talent since finishing sixth after a slow start in his career debut at Monmouth Park in July.
â€œThe first time out, he didnâ€™t know anything. He just went out there â€“ heâ€™s a colt, so he was screaming at the ponies. Some of them go out and do things right the first time, but this colt is not one of them,â€ Delacour said. â€œBut obviously he benefited from that experience and came right back and won.â€
Owned by Gretchen and Roy Jacksonâ€™s Lael Stables, which campaigned 2006 Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Barbaro, Other Cheek broke his maiden at Penn National in his second start, followed by a narrow allowance loss and a third-place finish in the Kent at Delaware Park. Following an entry-level allowance score at Laurel, the son of Smart Strike chased even-money favorite Heart to Heart throughout the 1 1/16 miles of the Commonwealth Turf.
The effort encouraged his trainer.
â€œHeâ€™s going to get more focused. But itâ€™s just the way he is. Heâ€™s a bit playful. He runs with blinkers and that tends to get him a little more focused,â€ Delacour said. â€œHeâ€™s lightly raced, so I think thereâ€™s room for improvement.â€
Julien Leparoux has been named to ride Other Cheek for the first time.
McGaughey Ready to â€˜Partyâ€™ in Co-featured Tropical Park Oaks
Party Now, who broke her maiden and narrowly lost in the Sweetest Chant Stakes over the Gulfstream turf course, has been rated as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Saturdayâ€™s co-featured $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
The daughter of Tiznow came off a six-month layoff to capture an optional claiming event at Aqueduct by four lengths.
â€œHer last race was a really good race. We gave her some time off after her race in May and brought her to Fair Hill, and they did a good job of getting her ready down there,â€ McGaughey said.
Party Now debuted at Keeneland in Oct. 2013 with a close second-place finish before romping to a 4 Â¾-length maiden score at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 2. The homebred filly owned by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable came right back to finish second in the Sweetest Chant, in which she set the pace before coming up a half-length short. The Kentucky-bred filly moved on to Keeneland to win an April allowance before checking in fourth in the Wonder Again at Belmont in May. Party Now, who has been training at Payson Park, will be back on familiar turf Saturday.
â€œShe broke her maiden and just got beat in a stake over it, so I think sheâ€™ll like it,â€ said McGaughey, who awarded the return mount to John Velazquez..
McGaughey reported that Honor Code, who recently returned from an eight-month layoff to win an optional claiming allowance at Aqueduct, is slated to return to the worktab at Payson Park Saturday morning. The Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on March 7 is the probable target for his 2014 debut.
Tropical Park Derby the Focus for Best Plan Yet
Best Plan Yet, who prepped on the dirt in the one-mile Aventura at Gulfstream on Dec. 7, returns to turf racing in the Tropical Park Derby.
â€œHe seemingly doesnâ€™t want the dirt, but the race was there and the distance was good,â€ trainer Stanley Gold said. â€œHe likes this turf and he ran a bang-up race when he won the stake on it.â€
Best Plan Yet, who captured the $90,000 Forty Niner over the Gulfstream turf in August, is a work in progress.
â€œI think heâ€™ll keep getting better as long as he stays sound. Right now, even after all this racing, heâ€™s not 100-percent focused. With this horse, Iâ€™ve tried no blinkers, little blinkers, big blinkers, covering everything up, covering nothing up. Heâ€™s absolutely intent on looking around. Heâ€™s the classic â€˜itâ€™s not the destination, itâ€™s the journey,â€™â€ Gold said. â€œIf heâ€™d just focus more. Part of his mind is not on running. Heâ€™s kind of responding to what youâ€™re asking for, but heâ€™s not giving you everything heâ€™s got. I think as he gets older, he might become more focused.â€
Gold reported that the Jacks or Better Farmâ€™s homebred colt wore blinkers with a three-quarter cup in the Forty Niner and will wear the same equipment in the Tropical Park Derby.
â€œItâ€™s kind of like a compromise,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s not covering up everything, but at least he wonâ€™t be focusing as much on whatâ€™s behind him.â€
Out of Bayou Plans, Best Plan Yet is a half-brother to Midas Eyes, a Grade 1 winner who was trained by Bobby Frankel and earned in excess of $600,000; Awesome Belle, a winner of multiple stakes on dirt and turf and nearly $530,000; Bayouâ€™s Lassie, a multiple graded-stakes winner and earner of more than $700,000; and Al Zir, who sold for $1.6 million as a yearling and was Group 1-stakes placed in England. While Midas Eyesâ€™ success came solely on dirt, Best Plan Yetâ€™s three other high-profile siblings excelled on grass.