Racing at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
A group of seven 2-year-olds are entered to make their career debut in the first juvenile race of the season Thursday as Gulfstream Park launches its 2022 spring/summer meet.
Post time for the first of eight races is 1:05 pm
Arindel homebred Keanu drew outside Post 7 and is the 9-5 program favorite in Race 2, a 4 ½-furlong main track sprint. By Brethren out of the Tiznow mare Tiz Boa, the bay colt began working on Arindel’s Ocala farm in early February before posting his final three works at the Palm Meadows Training Center, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
William Churly and Shadybrook Farm, Inc.’s Cajun Hope is a son of Cajun Breeze trained by Michael Yates, who strikes at 20 percent with first-time starters. His dam, Pop Pop’s Hope, has produced nine winners. Cajun Hope has a trio of three-furlong breezes over Gulfstream’s main track since mid-March, including a bullet 35.72 seconds April 1.
Gone Astray, sire in recent years of such horses as Grade 3 winners Shifty She and Three Rules and fellow multiple stakes winner Noble Drama, is represented by a pair of fillies – Long Trail Stable homebred Beautiful Astray and Lina Yanet Aristizabal Lopez’s Luna West. Both horses have been working at the Nelson Jones Farm and Training Center in Ocala.
Also entered are Rick Arnold’s St. Joe Jet, a daughter of Grade 3 winner Chitu; Coco Ranch’s Exquisito Coco, by millionaire Uncaptured, Canada’s 2012 champion 2-year-old and Horse of the Year; and William G. Law Jr.’s Awesome Flay, a gelded son of multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Awesome Slew.
Race 6 is an optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting five furlongs on the grass where Augustin Stable homebred High Front is favored at 7-5 on the morning line. The sophomore Summer Front gelding will be facing elders off one previous race, capturing a Jan. 28 maiden special weight on the course and distance by 6 ½ lengths in front-running fashion. His seven opponents, including Brazilian Group 3 winner Ice Chocolat, have a total of 22 wins from 81 combined starts.
Florida-bred 3-year-olds and up will go a mile and 70 yards on the Tapeta course in Race 7, a second-level allowance that drew a field of seven led by narrow 5-2 program favorite Exchange Day, a four- time winner from 17 career starts with a record of 2-1-2 in eight tries over all-weather surfaces.
Gulfstream’s spring/summer meet will be conducted Thursdays through Sundays and feature 16 stakes worth $1.385 million in purses anchored by the Summit of Speed, which begins with the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) for females 3 and up sprinting seven furlongs on the main track July 2, a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Last year’s Princess Rooney winner, Michael McCarthy-trained Ce Ce, went on to capture the $1 million Breeders’ Cup event and earn the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion female sprinter.
Summit of Speed continues July 3 with the $100,000 Smile Sprint (G3) for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs, and July 4 with the $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint scheduled for 5 ½ furlongs on the Tapeta.
The spring/summer meet stakes schedule begins with a pair of $75,000 races for 3-year-olds scheduled for a mile on the turf – the Honey Ryder for fillies and English Channel – on Kentucky Derby (G1) Day Saturday, May 7. Mother’s Day, May 8, will feature the $75,000 Monroe for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Gulfstream-based Saffie Joseph Jr., who dethroned 18-time training champion and Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher at the recently concluded 2021-2022 Championship Meet, has one horse entered on the opening day program – 4-year-old filly Big Bad Diva in Race 3, a starter optional claimer for females 4 and up scheduled for one mile on the grass.
Jockey Luis Saez has three mounts Thursday – Alizee in Race 5 and Marisa’s Mission in Race 7, both on the Tapeta, as well as High Front. Saez also won the Championship Meet riding title in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, and is scheduled to be at Keeneland for its spring meet that starts Friday.