When River Seven surged past Csaba in the Gulfstream Park
stretch to post a going-away four-length victory in the December 22 Harlan’s
Holiday, it was an eye-opening, perhaps career-changing, performance.
Already acknowledged as a graded-quality turf
runner, a reputation punctuated by a triumph in the Commonwealth Turf at
Churchill Downs in his previous outing, River Seven ran the race of his career,
at least by Speed-figure standards, on Gulfstream’s main track while dominating
the defending Harlan’s Holiday champion.
The four-year-old son of Johannesburg, who finished second in
the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie in his only previous start on dirt,
impressed his trainer Nick Gonzalez so much that his primary target for the Ontario-bred gelding became the
Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on February 9.
River Seven, who was also nominated for the Grade 1, $300,000
Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on the same day, is being pointed for a clash with
champion Will Take Charge in the 1
“If you think you’re a good horse and you want to be one of
the best horses around, those are the kind of horses you have to run against, if
you think you’re good enough. I think he is. We’ll have to wait until February 9 to
find out,” Gonzalez said.
“Whoever shows up isn’t going to change our plans.
This has been in our plans since he won the Harlan’s Holiday. A lot of people
make a big deal about who’s coming, but you have to pay attention to your horse
and get him right. That’s what you have to worry about, not someone else’s
Plans to breeze River Seven Thursday morning were scrapped
due to the sloppy track condition.
“We were going to breeze him this morning, but obviously we
canceled it. We probably won’t get to it tomorrow the way it looks, so we’ll
get to it probably Saturday,” explained Gonzalez, whose four-year-old gelding is likely
to breeze five furlongs.
“I probably would have like to do it a few days out
from a week to eight days before the race, but it’s not really a problem. It’s
not like he has to go out there and do something special. He’s a fit horse. He
just needs a little tuner-upper.”
River Seven, who’ll be ridden again by Joe Rocco Jr., has
pleased his trainer with his training since the Harlan’s Holiday.
“I’m not saying he’s better, but he definitely is doing
just as good,” Gonzalez stated. “He’s a hearty, robust horse, a good feeling
horse, very, very easy horse to train.”
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