Gulfstream Park plays host to five graded events on Saturday, and the two turf contests each drew fields of nine. Both races were held at Gulfstream Park West prior to this year
The $100,000 Tropical Turf Stakes (G3) features a well-matched group of stakes winners, including Blacktype, All Included, Camelot Kitten and Tower of Texas.
Blacktype captured an allowance/optional claimer and the Knickerbocker Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park before finishing fourth in the Artie Schiller Stakes last out at Aqueduct. The Christophe Clement-trained six-year-old will be making his first start at Gulfstream in this spot and keeps Joel Rosario aboard in this one-mile grassy affair.
“He’s coming off two wins in New York very impressively. The last race he was a bit unlucky,” said Clement’s son and assistant, Miguel. “We had a few things going against us last time. He was conceding a lot of weight and he had a very wide trip.
“He has done so well since the Artie Schiller, where I think he ran a winning race. We hope he puts it all together this time. He’s training well and he looks great, so we’ll see. I’m excited to see him run.
“It’s great that he’s able to run in Florida, especially since some of the owners will be able to be there to see him,” he added. “It’s amazing he’s never run in Florida. He’s always been running well; we’ve just kept him in New York and last year we pulled the plug on him. I don’t think there’s a reason why he wouldn’t run well.”
All Included suffered his first off-the-board placing of the year when eighth last out on May 27 in the Red Bank Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park. The Include six-year-old bobbled at the break of that mile contest and entered the race off a rallying half-length victory in the Appleton Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on April 1. The chestnut also finished third, but was elevated to second via disqualification, in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) one race prior.
“It seems like he’s freshened up nicely,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He’s always run well at Gulfstream, so we’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Camelot Kitten has only competed three times this season, and failed to hit the board on each occasion. The last win recorded by the Chad Brown-conditioned son of Kitten’s Joy came in last year’s Hill Prince Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. Like Blacktype, the four-year-old tries Gulfstream for the first time here with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. retaining the mount.
Tower of Texas is one of only two runners in this group with a last-out win. The Street Sense gelding captured the Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-G2) at Woodbine in June to kick off his six-year-old season for trainer Roger Attfield, but wouldn’t visit the winner’s circle again until taking the Labeeb Stakes over Woodbine’s yielding turf on November 4. Luis Saez has the call this time around.
Multiple Argentinean Group 1 hero Le Ken will attempt to turn things around after failing to place in three starts since shipping stateside. The bay four-year-old gets the services of John Velazquez here, which can only help his chances.
Former claimer Galton is the second entrant bringing a win into the Tropical Turf. The Mike Maker-trained six-year-old prevailed by three lengths against optional claiming rivals on October 19 at Gulfstream Park West and just missed by a half-length when second in the Mr. Steele Stakes over course and distance one race earlier.
Rounding out the Tropical Turf field are dual stakes victor Western Reserve, third in the Autumn Stakes (Can-G2) last out at Woodbine; Grade 2 scorer One Go All Go; and Shakhimat, hero of last year’s Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and third most recently in the Labeeb.
Two races earlier is the $100,000 My Charmer Stakes (G3) sending distaffers a mile on the green. On Leave is seeking a return to the winner’s circle in this spot after finishing third in the Goldikova Stakes (G2) at Del Mar on Breeders’ Cup Saturday.
The Shug McGaughey-trained four-year-old shows a pair of wins this year, taking the All Along Stakes and Perfect Sting Stakes, while placing in the Gallorette Stakes (G3), De La Rose Stakes and Goldkova. On Leave earned a career- and field-best 107 BRIS Speed rating for her score in the All Along two back, and brings Irad Ortiz Jr. along for the ride.
Stormy Victoria has yet to break through with a stakes win, but boasts six black-type placings that include the Nassau Stakes (Can-G2), Powder Break Stakes and Autumn Days Stakes from this season. The Christophe Clement pupil’s neck second in the Powder Break was her first and only try over the track, and came one race after she ran fourth in last year’s My Charmer when it was held at Gulfstream Park West.
“She came out of her last race very well. We’re running her a bit quick back, plus the shipping, but she seems to be in great form. She’s been extremely consistent. I’m excited to see her run because she’s doing so well,” assistant trainer Miguel Clement said. “I’m excited. It’s a tough race but nevertheless the filly is doing very well and that’s why we’re being a bit aggressive running her back so quickly.
“She’s been in the stable for the last two years and she’s been a great purchase,” he added. “She’s been paying her way. She’s everything you like in a racehorse – she’s tough, she’s consistent and she’s as game as they come.”
April Gaze returns to the turf in this spot after spending her past six races competing over the main track. Prior to those efforts, the Ed Plesa Jr. charge was fourth in both the Crank It Up Stakes and Christiana Stakes and a well-beaten seventh in the Drumtop Stakes last year over the greens at Monmouth Park, Delaware Park and Suffolk Downs, respectively.
“She’s run well enough on the grass for me with the exception of her very last start on it,” Plesa said. “I’ve always thought she’s handled it well enough that she deserves an opportunity. We’re trying the turf. We just think it’s better for her.”
The High Cotton four-year-old most recently just missed by a half-length when second in the Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park West and keeps Edgard Zayas in the irons.
“She overachieved in that last race and she came out of the race fine,” Plesa said. “I don’t need to find out whether she can handle the turf because I’m convinced that she can. It’s just getting her over there in the best possible shape.
“If she takes to the turf like we’re hoping, that opens up a whole new dimension for her,” he added. “She ran fourth one time going a mile and a sixteenth and this is only a mile, so it’s a little bit shorter. In that race I felt that the last sixteenth of a mile taxed her a little bit where if it would have been a mile she would have certainly hit the board, in my opinion. I would like to get some black-type on her in a race like this because that will help her later on.”
Gianna’s Dream brings a two-race win streak into the My Charmer, and has scored in three of her last four. The Mike Maker trainee led nearly every step of the way in the 1 1/8-mile Violet Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park before being caught on the wire to be third, but followed that with a pair of wins at Remington Park in the Ricks Memorial Stakes and defending her title in the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Turf Stakes. She and Southern Gem, who captured an allowance/optional claiming over Woodbine’s turf on November 17, are the only runners in this race exiting a win.
Completing the field are Grade 3-placed Defiant Honor, multiple stakes winners Josdesanimaux and Pancake, and stakes runner-up Inside Out.