Gulfstream offers a quartet of $100,000 stakes races Saturday and the Rampart (G3) for fillies and mares marks the first graded event of the Championship Meet. Trainer Marty Wolfson has three of the eight entrants including last-out winners Best Behavior and Cali Star.
Best Behavior hasn’t started since easily capturing an allowance/optional claiming race in mid-July, but Wolfson wins at a 19% rate off an extended layoff and the 5-year-old mare recorded a good second in the Sky Beauty last fall off a similar freshening. The daughter of Into Mischief likes Gulfstream (14-5-4-3) and the one-mile distance (3-2-1-0), and Best Behavior ranks first in BRIS Prime Power (135.7). John Velazquez picks up the mount.
Cali Star exits a recent five-length romp in her first outing for Wolfson and the chestnut 4-year-old retains the services of Tyler Gaffalone. Wolfson is also responsible for Curlin’s Princess, who registered a 100 BRIS Speed rating when capturing a one-mile allowance/optional claiming event at Gulfstream two back. Luis Saez rides.
Other Rampart runners include Danessa Deluxe, third in this year’s Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2); Millions Distaff Preview winner Legal Laura; and Molly Pitcher (G3) runner-up Stiffed.
Todd Pletcher captured last year’s Harlan’s Holiday with Liam’s Map, who went to post victories in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and Woodward S. (G1) in 2015, and the leading conditioner will seek his second straight victory in the 1 1/16-mile race with multiple Grade 2 winner Madefromlucky. The 3-year-old Lookin at Lucky colt possesses a 2-for-2 mark at Gulfstream and exits a runner-up finish in the November 11 Discovery H. (G3) at Aqueduct. Velazquez will return to the saddle.
Five time stakes hero Sr. Quisqueyano likes Gulfstream, winning the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic and finishing a neck second in the Skip Away (G3) in his last two appearances over the oval, and the Peter Walder trainee can’t be dismissed from contention with Edgard Zayas.
Grade 2 winner Valid finished second in last year’s Harlan’s Holiday and captured the Fred Hooper (G3) over the track two starts later. The speedy gelding should appreciate the class relief following a fifth in the October 30 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
Adding more depth is Grade 3 victor Mr. Jordan; Canadian classic winner Ami’s Holiday; Encryption, who exits a good third in a deep Fayette (G2); and recent allowance winner Mexikoma.
The El Prado takes place at 7 ½ furlongs on turf and features the return of War Correspondent, who was last seen capturing the Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream in late March. A close third in the Gulfstream Park H. (G1) two back, the 5-year-old son of War Front is conditioned by Christophe Clement and will be piloted by Velazquez.
Reporting Star, runner-up in the Sunshine Millions Turf last January, rates as a serious contender for Pat Parente. The 5-year-old gelding captured the Play the King (G2) at Woodbine in late summer and followed with a pair of fifths in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Canadian International (G1) before tuning up for the El Prado with a neck fourth in the November 7 Million Turf Preview at Gulfstream Park West. Miguel Vasquez rides.
Grade 2 scorer Tower of Texas, who will make his first appearance since a seventh in the Woodbine Mile, is capable with his best and the lightly-raced but promising Victory Exchange is eligible to show more after returning from an 18-month hiatus with an allowance win at Woodbine.
My Charmer H. (G3) runner-up Hope Cross is a top contender in the South Beach, a 7 ½-furlong turf affair for distaffers. Her rivals include Dauphine Russe, Endless Light, Spectacular Me, Tuttipaesi and Unbridled Courage.
Photo of Madefromlucky courtesy of Coady Photography