December 10, 2019

Sassicaia, Ragtime & Madd Exchange Lead Saturday Maiden Special

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Saturday's program at Gulfstream Park will feature the $200,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G3) for sophomore sprinters, and there are also a trio of maiden special weight races for 3-year-olds earlier on the card. That sequence will start with the fifth race, a $47,000 affair contested at 6 1/2 furlongs that attracted a nine-horse field. Five of them are first-time starters, including Sassicaia, who will be unveiled by trainer Chad Brown on behalf of owner Robert LaPenta.

Sassicaia--named for the famed Tuscan wine--made headlines last March when he sold for $1.6 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale conducted at Palm Meadows. A son of Bernardini and the Forestry mare Hishi Aspen, the bay colt first went through the auction ring as a yearling, selling for $250,000 in Lexington, Kentucky. He grew into his frame and, eight months later, zipped an eighth of a mile in 10 1/5 seconds at Palm Meadows. That display, coupled with the colt's physique and female family, made him the most sought-after juvenile at the sale.

"He’s a big, strong, handsome colt that looks like he has a lot of potential," Brown said. "We like the horse quite a bit."

Sassicaia's dam Hishi Aspen won three times at 8 1/2 furlongs in Japan. She hails from Broodmare of the Year Fall Aspen, whose descendants include champions Dubai Millennium and Timber Country. The 3-year-old has compiled a steady series of workouts since arriving at Palm Meadows in November.

"He’s been coming along very well," Brown added. "We expect that he’s the type of horse that will improve as the distances get longer. This is a good spot to get him started in, and we look forward to getting his career underway."

Sassicaia, listed at 5-1 on the morning line, will break from post four with Joel Rosario in the saddle.

He will face a pair of colts exiting a New Year's Day maiden at Gulfstream. Ragtime and Madd Exchange finished third and fourth, respectively, behind wire-to-wire winner Gambler's Ghost that day. Gambler's Ghost will contest the Hutcheson Stakes (G3) later on tomorrow's card.

Ragtime, a son of Henny Hughes that runs in the colors of breeder Phipps Stable, blew out three furlongs in a bullet :35 1/5 on Tuesday for trainer Shug McGaughey. Apprentice Dylan Davis will be back in the irons when the chestnut breaks from the two hole.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Madd Exchange was the 2-1 favorite in his debut, but broke a step slowly and made up ground belatedly. The Exchange Rate colt, a $375,000 juvenile purchase, is from the immediate family of last year's Jerome Stakes (G2) and Gotham Stakes (G3) victor Vyjack, as well as Delta Princess Stakes (G3) winner Tepin. Madd Exchange drew the rail and will have the services of leading jockey Javier Castellano.

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