February 9, 2023

Gulfstream Park Turf features rematch of Ft. Lauderdale top three

The Ft. Lauderdale was the first graded stakes win for Flatlined (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Perhaps a tad short of peak fitness when losing last month’s Ft. Lauderdale (G2) by a length after a seven-month spell, Divisidero might be more ready to run a winning race in Saturday’s $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1).

Last year’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) hero, Divisidero was noticeably washy in the pre-race proceedings in the Ft. Lauderdale. Despite  that and a slow start, the five-year-old made up considerable ground late to finish third to longshots Flatlined and Almanaar, and now gets an extra sixteenth to work with stretching out to 1 1/8 miles.

Flatlined turned in an even stronger kick from behind to take Ft. Lauderdale by a neck at 15-1. The Scooter Dickey charge has been in constant training for more than a year, and has really taken to the Gulfstream turf winning three of five starts and placing in the other two.

Almanaar, fourth and third in two allowance attempts last fall in his first two spins on American soil, was much improved in the Ft. Lauderdale and just missed at 11-1. A multiple Group 3 winner in France, the Chad Brown trainee figures to be well backed.

Beach Patrol makes his four-year-old debut here off a solid sophomore campaign that included a win in the Secretariat (G1) and placings in the Belmont Derby (G1), Hollywood Derby (G1) and two other graded stakes. Also trained by Brown, he might show early foot in this relatively pace-less affair.

Lukes Alley and All Included, first and third in this race a year ago; recent Tampa allowance winner Eirigh; and Grade 3 scorer War Correspondent complete the lineup.

Tommy Macho, a 5 3/4-length winner of the Hal’s Hope (G3) last month, looks to make it two in a row over the one-turn mile in the $350,000 Gulfstream Park H. (G2).

“He’s put together two huge races here going a mile so I think this race makes perfect sense,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “His win here last year (Fred W. Hooper [G3]) and the way he ran the other day, those type of races put him in the very top of the mile division.”

Also starting for Pletcher is Zulu, runner-up in last season’s Fountain of Youth (G2) and winner of a restricted seven-furlong stakes in December.

Blofeld won the 2016 Gulfstream Park for Pletcher, but makes his debut with Rusty Arnold here in what will be his first outing since late July. Likely to get more backing are Grade 3 winner Sharp Azteca, second in the Malibu (G1) most recently, and Mr. Prospector (G3) winner Squadron A.

“This is the best I’ve seen him. He’s matured a lot. He should run pretty good. He’s been training good and he came out of his last race really good,” said trainer Jorge Navarro of Sharp Azteca. “We pointed him for this race. We’ll try to keep him a one-turn mile. I think that’s going to be his best distance.”

Sharp Azteca won last year’s Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. He is expected to contest the Godolphin Mile (G2) at Meydan and the Metropolitan H. (G1) at Belmont later in the spring.

Sandiva will bow out of a productive career with a title defense in the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) over nine furlongs on the turf. She will again meet Sea Coast, who she got the better of by a half-length in last month’s Marshua’s River (G3).

The field of 10 also includes Dickinson, a close fourth in the Marshua’s River, and Goldy Espony, last seen winning the Long Island H. (G3) and La Prevoyante H. (G3), both over 12 furlongs, in her final two starts of 2015.