Pletcher Has 3 for Newly Named Colonel Liam Stakes
Ok Boomer Set for Stakes Debut in 3YO Turf Feature
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Having saddled Colonel Liam for back-to-back victories in the 2021-2022 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher fittingly will be very well represented in Saturday’s $200,000 Colonel Liam Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds formerly known as the Palm Beach Stakes
The Colonel Liam will be one of nine stakes on a 14-race program that will include eight graded stakes, headlined by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G1), the 1 1/16-mile dress rehearsal for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park.
Team Valor International LLC’s Ok Boomer, undefeated in his first two career starts; Siena Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Santorini, an impressive maiden special weight winner at Gulfstream; and Three Diamond Farm’s Dude N Colorado, who finished third in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) last time out; will represent Pletcher in the Colonel Liam.
Pletcher is only too happy to support a race that honors the racing career of Colonel Liam, who will stand his first season as a stallion in Florida this year.
“I think it’s great Colonel Liam has a race named after him. He had a tremendous career at Gulfstream, where he won back-to-back in the Pegasus Turf,” Pletcher said. “He’s gotten a great reception at Ocala Stud. He’s a big, strong, beautiful horse. I think he has the kind of pedigree that not only fits turf well – he had a lot of talent on dirt. He had an amazing work at Ocala on synthetic. To me, he’s ideal for Florida because he’s a horse that potentially [can sire horses that] can run on all three surfaces, which we obviously have at Gulfstream.”
Ok Boomer, a homebred son of Noble Mission, has taken to the turf at Gulfstream, where he broke his maiden in his Dec. 10 debut before closing with a rush to win a first-level optional claiming allowance going away.
“Ok Boomer has gotten off to a great start. It’s very difficult to win your first two races, which he has been able to do,” Pletcher said. “He had a solid win last time. Now we’re going to step up into a difficult spot. The way he’s handled everything so far, hopefully, he can continue to do that and improve.”
Luis Saez has the return call aboard Ok Boomer. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Dude N Colorado, while Joel Rosario has the mount on Santorini.
Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s Bluebirds Over is scheduled to make his first start on turf while bringing graded-stakes credentials into the Colonel Liam. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained son of English Channel is undefeated on Tapeta after winning his debut at Gulfstream Nov. 5 and capturing the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine three weeks later.
“He’s a pretty nice colt. We ran him back pretty quick off his debut to win the Grade 3 at Woodbine. He handled the ship up there. It’s a long ship, and he was able to win it,” Joseph said. “After that we gave him a little break, and this was the target. We’re kind of using this as a prep to hopefully take us to the Jeff Ruby [March 25 at Turfway Park].”
Bluebirds Over demonstrated a high-level of versatility in his early training.
“He had trained well on the dirt, and he is all turf pedigree. Obviously, he debuted on the Tapeta because we didn’t have turf, but when a horse with a turf pedigree trains well on the dirt, it’s a good sign,” Joseph said. “You hope that when they get on that surface that they’re meant for that they should even get better, and that’s what he’s been like from the get-go.
“It’s a very competitive race,” he added. “Todd’s got three in there, but we think we’ve got him fit enough off the layoff if he’s good enough.”
Edgard Zayas has the return mount on Bluebirds Over.
D J Stable LLC’s Webslinger, who rebounded from a disappointing finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) with a late-running optional claiming allowance on turf at Gulfstream Feb. 11, is slated to seek his second career stakes victory in the Colonel Liam. The son of Constitution captured the Nownownow at Monmouth prior to his start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Javier Castellano has the return call on the Mark Casse-trained 3-year-old gelding.
Casse also entered John Oxley and Breeze Easy LLC’s Boppy O, who finished fourth in the Kitten’s Joy. The son of Bolt d’Oro captured the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga last summer.
Jose Ortiz has the call on Boppy O, who will run without blinkers, which he wore in his last two outings.
Michael Dubb, Michael Kisber and Madaket Stable LLC’s Belouni, a stakes-placed son of Fast Company, is scheduled to make his U.S. debut in the Colonel Liam for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
Bourbon Lane Stable and Circle N Thoroughbreds’ Our Dream Rye’d and Dede McGehee’ Welaka round out the field.