Jose Ortiz Gets Off to Fast Start at Gulfstream
Defending Champion Abaan Tops 28 Noms to H. Allen Jerkens
Change of Tactics, Company Prove Successful for Carabinero
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Jose Ortiz got off to a quick start at Gulfstream Park, connecting with his first mount of the Sunshine Meet in Thursday’s first race in impressive fashion.
The 28-year-old Eclipse Award-winning jockey guided Souper Quest to a dominating 5 ½-furlong debut victory in the five-furlong dash for Florida-bred 2-year-olds to notch win No. 199 of the 2022 racing season. His winning ride aboard the Mark Casse trainee was also his first trip around the new Gulfstream turf course.
“It’s a Grade 1 turf course, like it should be. Gulfstream is a Grade 1 racetrack,” Ortiz said. “I’m very happy and I’m happy to be here.”
Ortiz has been named on four mounts on Friday’s program and is scheduled to ride five horses Saturday, including Isabel Alexandra in the $75,000 Wait a While and Brumba Waffle Toes in the $75,000 Pulpit over the new turf.
Ortiz will miss Sunday’s card when he is scheduled to ride in multiple Clasico del Caribe races in Venezuela.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Venezuela. They say the fans are crazy about racing. They love horse racing,” Ortiz said. “I’m eager to go down there.”
Ortiz will be accompanied by his brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., who is named on five horses on Sunday’s program on his first day back at Gulfstream, as well as Emisael Jaramillo, Paco Lopez and Javier Castellano.
Defending Champion Abaan Tops 28 Nominees to H. Allen Jerkens
Alex Daigneault and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Abaan, the defending champion, and fellow graded turf stakes winners Another Mystery and Ready for the Lady top 28 horses nominated to the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
The two-mile Jerkens for 3-year-olds and up shares top billing on the Saturday, Dec. 17 program with the $100,000 Via Borghese for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles. Both races are scheduled for Gulfstream’s new turf course.
Abaan, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, was a front-running 4 ½-length winner of last year’s Jerkens and used it as a springboard to victory in the 1 ½-mile William L. McKnight (G3) Jan. 29. He ran in four subsequent graded-stakes, finishing second in Gulfstream’s April 2 Pan American (G2) before getting the summer and fall off, returning in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 4 at Gulfstream.
Pletcher has won four of eight editions of the Jerkens, first run in 2015 to honor the late Hall of Fame trainer, with Unitarian (2015), Charming Kitten (2016), American Tattoo (2019) and Abaan.
Team Block’s Another Mystery won the 1 ½-mile John B. Connally Jan. 30 at Sam Houston and captured the Black Tie Affair against fellow Illinois-breds June 3 at Hawthorne. He was beaten a neck in the 1 ½-mile Kentucky Downs Turf Cup (G2) Sept. 10 and a head in Hawthorne’s 1 1/16-mile Pizza Man Oct. 15 in his two most recent starts.
Charles Fipke’s 3-year-old homebred Ready for the Lady won the 1 3/8-mile Singspiel (G3) on the Woodbine turf Sept. 18 for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, one start after breaking his maiden, and has been unplaced in back-to-back races, each over the track’s all-weather surface.
Also prominent among Jerkens nominees are Reigning Spirit, second by a neck in the 1 ½-mile Louisville (G2) May 21; Agitare and Basso, respectively 1-2 in the two-mile Jon Forbes Memorial over a yielding course at Far Hills Oct. 15; Barberini, a winner of three straight; 2021 Cape Henlopen winner Oceans Map; Nov. 12 Claiming Crown Iron Horse winner Time for Trouble and Sole Volante, winner of the 2020 Sam F. Davis (G3) on dirt.
Pletcher also has a nominee in the Via Borghese, Michael Tabor’s Beside Herself, a 3-year-old daughter of champion Uncle Mo who broke her maiden over the Gulfstream Park turf Jan. 30 and finished third in the 1 1/8-mile Regret (G3) June 4 at Churchill Downs. She captured a 1 ½-mile optional claiming allowance Aug. 25 at Saratoga.
China Horse Club’s Coastana exits a fourth in the 1 ½-mile Dowager (G3) Oct. 23 at Keeneland after finishing third in back-to-back graded-stakes going 1 3/8 miles – the Sept. 3 Flower Bowl (G2) at Belmont Park and Oct. 2 Waya (G3) at Aqueduct. The Kitten’s Joy mare is 1-for-2 at Gulfstream, running second by a nose in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight last February.
The Hall of Fame trainer nominated two horses, Joseph Allen homebred Flying Fortress, a three-time winner that was most recently fifth in the Dowager, and Andrew Rosen’s Good American, yet to race in North America after making six starts in his native England.
Change of Tactics, Company Prove Successful for Carabinero
A knack for both finding and placing horses has been instrumental in trainer Claudio Gonzalez’s success over the past several years. It was on display again last weekend at Gulfstream Park, where Maryland’s five-time defending overall champion now maintains a year-round presence.
Carabinero, racing second time off the claim for Gonzalez’s MCA Racing Stable, sprung a three-quarter-length upset at 20-1 in an entry-level allowance for Florida-bred 2-year-olds sprinting six furlongs Dec. 4. The final time was 1:11.62 over a fast main track.
It was the first time against state-breds and marked a cutback for Carabinero, who set the pace before finishing third in a seven-furlong optional claimer Oct. 30 at Gulfstream in his first start since being claimed for $12,500 out of a maiden win Sept. 4 for previous trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo.
“I claimed him a couple starts back, and he has been doing good, that’s why I took the chance against Florida-breds. His last breeze was very good, so why not? He ran like he had been training in the morning,” Gonzalez said. “I entered in a starter [$16,000] for 2-year-olds but the race didn’t go, so he got to have one more breeze and he ran big.”
Carabinero is by Neolithic, who never won a stakes but placed in four graded events including thirds in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Dubai World Cup (G1) and Woodward (G1) in 2017 and retired with more than $2.2 million in purse earnings.
After showing speed in each of his previous two starts, Carabinero settled off the pace under Jose Morelos and was able to get outside and make a steady run to catch favored Gran Slash inside the sixteenth pole and surge ahead to win.
“There was a lot of speed, that’s why I told Jose to break good and then you can see how he breaks with the others. He rode him excellent. He let the others go, he came up on the horses and then made one move,” Gonzalez said. “There were some nice horses in there.”
Gonzalez entered Thursday’s program tied for fifth in the Sunshine Meet standings with 10 wins from 40 starters (25 percent). He was unsure where Carabinero would show up next, but will stay with shorter distances.
“We’ll keep him sprinting for now,” he said. “He’s a good-sized horse, he’s Florida-bred, and we’re here. He ran big, running with really good horses. We’ll see how he comes back and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do.”