Bentornato in ‘Peak of Condition’ for FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes
Undefeated 2YO Colt Sets Sights on Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Jose D’Angelo couldn’t be happier with Bentornato leading up to Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager at Gulfstream Park, where the undefeated son of Valiant Nature will face nine rivals in the first leg of the 2023 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited Florida stallions.
“He’s in peak of condition,” D’Angelo said.
That was not the case, however, leading up to the first two starts of his career, a late-rallying debut victory July 1 and a runaway triumph in the Proud Man Stakes Aug. 12.
Minor issues interrupted his training while preparing for his debut, while a fever left the strapping colt a workout short for the six-furlong Proud Man.
“From the start, we knew we had a very nice horse,” D’Angelo said. “He was a little green the first time out. For the second race, the stake, he got a fever three weeks before the race, so he had only two workouts. He won the stake on just two workouts. That’s why I know we have a very nice horse.”
Bentornato, who has been installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Dr. Fager, may have been short of conditioning in his five-furlong debut, but his wide rally didn’t come up short. He defeated next-out winner Big Effect by a neck. Distant third-place finisher Dewy’s Beast also won his next start at Colonial Downs.
Despite less-than-ideal preparation, the D’Angelo trainee looked sharp in the Proud Man, in which he overcame early bumping to show the way into the stretch and draw off to win by 4 ¼ lengths.
Emisael Jaramillo, who was aboard for both victories, has the return mount.
Trainer Juan Alvarado is represented in the Dr. Fager by three entrants that were all first-out winners who raced at Saratoga in their second starts. BC Racing LLC’s Dickens, who won his 4 ½-furlong debut June 10 by two lengths, finished third in the July 15 Sanford (G3) after setting a pressured pace. BC Racing LLC’s Jive, finished seventh in the Sanford after winning his five-furlong debut May 19. Arindel’s Lasso, who rallied from well back to capture his June 3 debut by 3 ½ lengths, raced evenly while finishing fourth in the Aug. 12 Saratoga Special (G2).
Dickens, a son of Adios Charlie who is rated second on the morning line at 4-1, turned in a bullet workout in his final preparation for the Dr. Fager while breezing a half-mile in 47 seconds from the gate.
“Dickens is fast out of the gate, but I don’t think he needs the lead. Ideally, he’s stalking some speed, but if he’s up there it won’t be a problem for him,” BC Racing LLC’s Brian Cohen said.
Dickens and Lasso had been workmates while preparing for their respective debuts.
“Lasso, he’s a green horse with a lot of ability. We’ll put blinkers on him coming back here and I think it will move him forward and put him in the game,” said Cohen, Arindel’s stable manager.
Edgard Zayas, who has ridden both Dickens and Lasso in all of their races, has been named on Dickens for the Dr. Fager. Hector Diaz Jr. has the mount on Lasso. Edwin Gonzalez, who rode Jive for his debut score, returns aboard the son of St. Patrick’s Day.
Stonehedge LLC’s Gentle Breeze, who finished second in the Proud Man, will seek to turn the tables on Bentornato Saturday. The Ralph Nicks-trained son of Cajun Breeze overcame bumping at the start of the Proud Man to rally for second. He previously graduated in a $25,000 maiden claiming race by 12 ¾ lengths over a muddy track.
Leonel Reyes has the return call aboard Gentle Breeze.
Nicks is also scheduled to saddle Northshore Drive for the Dr Fager. He is a son of Fort Loudon, who swept the 2011 FSS series, and is owned by Jacks or Better Farm, Inc., the FSS series’ leading owner.
Donald Ming’s Ninja Star is scheduled to make his first start at Gulfstream Park after breaking his maiden at first asking at 5 ½ furlongs and finishing second in a six-furlong allowance over Presque Isle Downs’ all-weather surface.
Sonny Leon has the call on Ninja Star, who will be saddled for the first time by Scott Acker.
Donald Mensh and Laurie Plesa’s Raging Fury, a son of Ami’s Flatter who rallied to win his debut by a neck Aug. 5; Lawson Racing Stables’ Sound of the Beast, a son of The Big Beast, who graduated Aug. 12 in his second start; and Cammarota Racing LLC’s Secret Lover, a son of Khozan who finished third in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga in his second start, round out the field.