April 26, 2019

Point of Honor gets class test in Gulfstream Park Oaks

Point of Honor and jockey Javier Castellano capture the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 9, 2019 (c) SV Photography

Point of Honor has made it look easy in two starts to date, but gets tested for class Saturday in the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), a Road to the Kentucky Oaks series race that will offer qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

Trained by George Weaver, Point of Honor won at first asking by six lengths in a off-the-turf maiden at Gulfstream in mid-December, and followed up with a 2 3/4-length tally in the $100,000 Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs. The daughter of Curlin is thus perfect in two-turn races.

“She hasn’t been beaten yet, so that’s what you have to do, run against tougher horses and see what you’ve got,” Weaver said. “She’s training well and doing really well, so we’ll just lead her over there and see what she does.

“She’s very professional, that’s one of her fine attributes. She knows how to rate herself and she knows how to move when it’s time to move.”

Also stepping up is the Chad Brown-trained Dunbar Road, who dominated her debut foes by 8 3/4 lengths over a one-turn mile on March 3.

Entering with more stakes experience is Cookie Dough, who missed by a head to longshot Jeltrin in the one-mile Davona Dale (G2) after leading from the start. She convincingly captured two of three Florida Sires Stakes divisions at two last season.

Third in the Davona Dale was Champagne Anyone, previously third by less than a length in the Forward Gal (G3). She’ll race with blinkers on for the first time in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

“She ran good. I just think she came off that really good effort first off the layoff and I think she may have been a bit flat and maybe I didn’t do a good enough job,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “You always question that, but I think she’s improved a lot.

“The further the better for her. You could even see in that last race, she was only getting warmed up at the end there. I’m hoping the two turns will be right in her wheelhouse.”

Here is a brief rundown of the undercard stakes on Saturday’s Florida Derby Day program at Gulfstream Park.

Race 4 — $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2)

Prince Lucky will be a solid favorite to follow-up his six-length win in the February 23 Hal’s Hope (G3) over the same one mile distance while facing just five rivals.

Race 5 — $125,000 Cutler Bay

Dual stakes winner Marquee Prince faces challenges from Seismic Wave, Forever Mo, Art G Is Back, and others in this one-mile grass test for three-year-olds.

Race 6 — $125,000 Sanibel Island

A Bit Special, a three-time stakes winner over this turf including the Sweetest Chant (G3), will be favored over seven rivals in his one-mile heat for three-year-old fillies.

Race 10 — $100,000 Sand Springs

Multiple Grade 2 winner Proctor’s Ledge makes her season debut against, among others, Suwannee River (G3) winner and Honey Fox (G3) runner-up Valedictorian over one mile. Proctor’s Ledge is two-for-two on the Gulfstream turf.

Race 13 — $250,000 Pan American (G2)

Leading lights in this traditional 1 1/2-mile turf fixture are the Chad Brown-trained Focus Group, the Mike Maker pair of Soglio and Bigger Picture, and the capable stayer Canessar.