Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/13/14
This weekend’s Horse Racing race of the week takes us to Gulfstream Park for the 2013 Hal’s Hope Stakes for four-years-old and up at a distance of 1 mile and offers a purse of $100,000 on Sunday. Albeit at the time of this writing the morning line odds have not been posted, I believe either Soldat or Csaba should take that role.   The Hal’s Hope Stakes used to be the Creme Fraiche Handicap in honor of the 1985 Belmont Stakes winner, Creme Fraiche, but the race was renamed in 2003 for its 2002 winner, Hal’s Hope, who was a speedy Florida-bred and won the 2000 Grade I Florida Derby, the 2002 Grade I Gulfstream Park Handicap, and the 2000 Holy Bull Stakes. The race is generally used as a prep race for the season’s first big race, The Donn Handicap, which is run on February 9 also at Gulfstream Park. First run in 1990, past winners of Hal’s Hope include: Geri (1996), 1996 Preakness Stakes winner Louis Quatorze (1997), Hal’s Hope himself (2002), the stretch running Puzzlement (2004), the gorgeous Quality Road (2010) and last year the veteran Jackson Bend.   Gulfstream Park – Sunday, January 13, 2013 Race 10 – 5:05 PM     Hal’s Hope Stakes (Grade: 3 ) Purse $100,000 For Four Year Olds and Upward One Mile   PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer 1 Swagger Jack 5/H L C J Lanerie 117 M D Wolfson 2 Associate 5/H L J Rosario 117 R E Dutrow, Jr. 3 Good Morning Diva 4/C L M R Cruz 117 J D Braddy 4 Soldat 5/H L J Castellano 117 K P McLaughlin 5 Delegation 4/G L J R Velazquez 121 M E Casse 6 Csaba 4/C L L Saez 121 P A Gleaves 7 Scatman 4/C L J Lezcano 117 W I Mott 8 Cool Blue Red Hot 5/H L J Bravo 117 A J Penna, Jr. 9 Pants On Fire 5/H L P Lopez 117 K J Breen 10 Pool Play 8/H L M Mena 121 M E Casse   Analysis:   1) Csaba- is in career best form as he’s won his last three (all stakes races) by a combined 25 lengths. He doesn’t seem to need the lead to be effective and I, and apparently trainer Phil Gleaves, like the cut back in distance from his last. (Actually this distance is a cut back off his last four races). “I like the turn back (in distance),” said Gleaves. “Woody (Stephens) made a habit of doing that over the years,” referring to Gleaves’ Hall of Fame mentor.   2) Soldat- albeit talented, this colt by War Front has been a bit erratic over his career. I mean it started off great as he won three and finished second three times in his first six career starts. But he suffered subsequent drubbings in the Florida and Kentucky Derbies, then won an allowance race before inexplicably going down in flames as the 3/2 favorite in New York Just a little bit too inconsistent for me to put on top of this race, but I have to be honest….that three for four lifetime record over the Gulfstream Park surface scares the daylights out of me.     3) Delegation- has never been off the board in now eight lifetime starts (8-4-4-2) over several different surfaces as well (Dirt, synthetics and grass). He was third beaten just four lengths to Tapizar in the BC Mile this past November. Nice work on Dec 8 (5F- :59.3) but I have to put him third being he was beaten 3+ lengths behind Csaba in his last.       Honorable Mentions: Associate is as consistent as the day is long as he hasn’t finished off the board in a year and a half. In that last year and a half, he’s been a fast closing third to the wickedly fast The Factor, second to Emcee and I LOVE the “fought on gamely” Daily Racing Form comment in his last race. A steady stream of high speed figures only adds to it. Dangerous and no surprise at all if he outruns this rating. Pants On Fire either runs big or doesn’t run at all…..there is not much in between. Generally speaking, inconsistent horses are immediate “throw outs” for me but this now four year old colt is the leading money winner in this field ($934,560) and has been burning up the racetrack in the  morning, so I’m going to toss him in there. Scatman was among the leading Kentucky Derby prospects earlier this year but, other than a couple of allowance wins, he’s  fizzled out since. If he bounces back to that spring form, he might be a threat… Record: 2013: 1-1= 100% 2012: 24-74= 32%   Little Bets N’ Pieces **** 2012 Breeders Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail has been retired from racing, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “He was training in the morning (at OaklawnPark) and took a bad step; they x-rayed it and he’d fractured a sesamoid,” Lukas said. “Some of them recover from that, some of them don’t—it wasn’t life-threatening, but it certainly ended his career as a racehorse.”  “I thought he had a chance to go on and do something,” Lukas added. “He’s a pretty nice, versatile horse. He ran short and long and he’s very well-conformed. He was one of those we were looking forward to having here at Oaklawn this spring, but it’s just part of our industry.” Hightail will be shipped to Calumet Farm near Lexington. No stud plans have been announced. “We’re going to send him home and let him recover from the injury,” Lukas said.   2012 BC Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail has been injured and retired.    **** In his first race in more than seven years, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens put $50,000 claimer Jebrica on the lead as they entered the stretch only to be caught late and finish third. Stevens, riding for the first time since November 2005, said “I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be a storybook comeback.’ It wasn’t meant to be, but it was close enough,” said Stevens, who was forced to retire in 2005 with chronic knee problems. “That’s the first time I’ve knuckled down on one in seven years, and it felt good.” Two months shy of his 50th birthday, Stevens announced January 3 that he would launch his comeback. “It feels good to get the cobwebs out, and I feel good,” Stevens added. A three time winner of both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes and a two-time Preakness winner, Stevens also owns eight Breeders’ Cup wins among his 4,888 career wins to date. Stevens is scheduled to ride again today (Friday) in the third race at Santa Anita. He has Readyforhercloseup for trainer Richard Mandella. In announcing his decision to resume riding, Stevens said he plans to continue his jobs with HRTV and NBC Sports as a racing analyst and will be selective in how many races he rides in….that’s good news because he and Jerry Bailey are the best in the business as far as being race analysts from where I sit.   Great to see Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stephens back in the saddle. Although his color commentating was excellent as well.     **** Career win number 5,000 will have to wait for three time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel due to a minor wrist fracture that will keep him on the sidelines for about 18 days. “X-rays show what Calvin thought was a bad wrist sprain actually involves a minor fracture that will require a cast,” the jockey’s wife, Lisa Borel, posted on Facebook. “Our doctors believe he’ll be out about 18 days…. Will keep everyone posted.” Borel, 46, has won 4,999 races and plans to next ride at the upcoming OaklawnPark meet which begins Jan. 11. His three Derby wins include Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010)   Career win number 5,000 is just around the corner for three time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel   **** 2011 Haskell Invitational winner Coil closed out a successful racing career by going out on top with an exciting head-bob win in the $150,000, Grade: 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita last week.  Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, the now 5-year-old chestnut, by 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, is to stand at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez. “He’s had some issues that I just didn’t want to run him this year,” Baffert said. “I’d have to run him sparingly. I think he deserves to be retired. He’s good; he’s very healthy right now, but it was time to send him to stud”. “He’s got so much heart,” the trainer added. “That was all Coil”    2011 Haskell winner Coil goes out in style **** Odds-on favorite Goldencents got himself, trainer Doug O’Neill and me off to a good start to 2013 with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Sham Stakes last weekend at Santa Anita Park. With regular pilot Kevin Krigger, who is going to be a top notch rider soon aboard, Goldencents stalked pacesetter Manando on the outside before taking command just past the eighth pole before clearing his competition at the sixteenth pole. “From the gate, I got a little bump from (Den’s Legacy) on the inside, and by then Martin (Garcia) had already cleared us a little bit,” Krigger said. “That made me have to ride a smart race by taking him back and putting him on the outside. He’s always been relaxed, but he was so relaxed that I could ride him confidently from behind, too. He’s doing everything right. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and praying that he stays sound. “When we turned for home, it felt like it was going to be a tough battle, but by the time we got about 50 yards from the eighth pole, I could feel him gathering himself up to make that huge surge,” Krigger continued. “He galloped out real good. I can’t complain.” Goldencents is trained by Doug O’Neill, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, with I’ll Have Another said: “Having a (Kentucky) Derby contender is such an exciting thing, this horse is such a brilliant athlete and so amazing mentally. He’s just getting better every day”. “The whole crew, like I said earlier, has a little swag after I’ll Have Another, so we’re just enjoying the whole ride.” O’Neill said he has not made his mind up on what’s next for Goldencents. “We’ll just huddle up (with the owners),” he said. “We were very confident about this race but you just never know till it’s over. Now that it’s over, we’ll put our heads together and look at upcoming races and if he stays injury-free, we’ll get there… We’re all pumped up.”   Goldencents draws first blood on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a win in last week’s Sham Stakes

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