Lochte Back to Defend Title in Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1)

December 10, 2019

Makes Two-Week Turnaround in Lone G1 Grass Race of Championship Meet

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Fourteen days after his most recent victory, Lochte looks to continue his winning ways in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1).

The 1 1/8-mile grass race is one of six stakes races, four of them graded, on tap at Gulfstream, including the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), $100,000 Fred Hooper (G3), $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and $75,000 Texas Glitter.

Owned by Carolyn Vogel’s Crossed Sabres Farm, Lochte will be making his third start of 2015 in the GP Turf, a race he won at odds of 39-1 last year giving trainer Marcus Vitali and jockey Orlando Bocachica their first career Grade 1 victories.

A gelded 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, Lochte ran third in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) on January 10 at Gulfstream prior to his rallying head victory over Old Time Hockey in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) on January 24 at Tampa Bay Downs. Both races came at 1 1/16 miles.

“I ran him over there just for a prep for this race,” Vitali said. “It was all based on how he came out of the race. He came out of it phenomenal. I gave him a few days off after he ran, and when he came back off the race his exercise girl told me he’s hair, teeth and eyeballs. We’re going to try to defend our title.”

Four of Lochte’s five career victories have come in eight starts at Gulfstream Park, where he has finished off the board just twice with one second and one third. He won The Vid Stakes in September and placed in both the Kilroe Mile (G1) and Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) last spring.

“I hope it all goes well. He’s a horse for course. He loves this track,” Vitali said. “I’m excited. He came back off the race good and he’s training good. If he stays as good as he is now going into the race, I feel we’ll definitely be a presence in there.”

Paco Lopez, aboard for the Tampa Bay win, returns to the irons in place of Bocachica, Lochte’s regular rider who is recovering from a January 14 spill at Gulfstream. They will carry 117 pounds from post 8 in the nine-horse field.

Another Grade 1 winner in the GP Turf is Imagining, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for owner-breeder Phipps Stable. The 7-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway was a closing second in the race last winter using it as a springboard to win the Man o’War (G1) in May at Belmont Park.

This will be the seventh straight Grade 1 appearance for Imagining, who most recently finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), beaten for the third consecutive time by 2014 champion turf horse and champion older horse Main Sequence, including a head loss at Saratoga Race Course in the Sword Dancer (G1).

“He’s doing good. We gave him a little freshener and he’s been doing really, really well,” McGaughey said. “We ran really well at Saratoga and just got beat. Maybe he went a little quick the first part of it, but I’m sure there will be some horses in here that will be pretty competitive.”

Highweight at 120 pounds, Imagining and jockey Joel Rosario from post 3.

Well-traveled import Mshawish can extend his win streak to three races in the GP Turf. Another son of Medaglia d’Oro, the 5-year-old ended 2014 with a two-length victory in the 7 ½ furlong El Prado and opened 2015 beating Grand Tito by a neck in the 8 ½-furlong Fort Lauderdale (G2), both at Gulfstream Park.

Al Shaqab Racing’s Mshawish will be making his sixth start since coming to North America after racing in France, Dubai and Hong Kong. Championship meet-leading jockey Javier Castellano rides from post 1.

“He needs to be covered up. We’ve known that all along, but sometimes it’s easier to do than others,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He’s starting to fulfill the promise that we thought he had. He’s a very talented horse.”

Also entered in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap are 2013 Tropical Park Derby winner and Grade 2-placed Amen Kitten; 2014 Miami Mile (G3) winner Grand Tito; Sunshine Millions Turf winner Manchurian High; Grade 2-placed Slumber and War Correspondent; and Golden Rifle, making his stakes debut for trainer Marty Wolfson.

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