Train to Artemus Tests Streak in $100,000 Captiva Island
Trainer Kelly Breen Approaching 1,000th Career Victory
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Approaching the milestone of 1,000 career victories, trainer Kelly Breen will send out M and W Stables’ claimer-turned-stakes winner Train to Artemus looking to extend her win streak to four races in Saturdays’ $100,000 Captiva Island at Gulfstream Park.
The Captiva Island for fillies and mares 4 and up sprinting five furlongs on the grass is part of a 12-race program that includes the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3), also for older females, going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
Post time is 12:40 p.m. EST.
Breen, 53, stands at 997 wins with three starters on Thursday’s card at Gulfstream, one Friday at Laurel Park and another in Gulfstream’s fourth race Saturday prior to the Captiva Island, which goes off as Race 11 (5:35 p.m. EST). He is 7-for-38 during the Championship Meet that began Dec. 26.
I think it’s pretty awesome,” Breen said of 1,000 wins. “A bunch of the people that work for me are excited, guys that have been with me for a long time. I think it’s a testament to the whole barn and for us being a crew and putting in some hard work.
“I would be ecstatic if [Train to Artemus] ended up being the 1,000th win. I know I run some horses between now and then, [but] to actually have it fall in a race that’s a stakes race would be beyond all extremes as to where and when you could possibly have a milestone,” he added. “That race would be, for sure, a standout for the guys that own it, the partnerships that have it. Overall, it would be just a lot of joy.”
Train to Artemus has won four of five starts since Breen claimed the 5-year-old Tapizar mare for $35,000 out of a three-length victory last August at Saratoga. Two of those wins have come this winter at Gulfstream – a two-length score Dec. 18 in a race moved from the grass to the all-weather Tapeta, and a gusty nose triumph Jan. 18, both going five furlongs.
“She’s a very muscular, good-looking filly. She has been doing nothing wrong for us,” Breen said. “We took her in Saratoga and part of the thoughts were, my home base is in New Jersey. Worst case scenario, she has a lot of speed and we can have some fun with her in New Jersey. We’ve had more than enough fun with her in New York and Florida. She’s outreached our expectations and the sky’s still the limit. She’s doing well and we hope she runs a good race on Saturday.”
Train to Artemus made her stakes debut last time out in the five-furlong Lightning City Feb. 18 at Tampa Bay Downs, saving ground early under Gulfstream-based jockey Paco Lopez before coming with a run to win by two lengths in :55.44 seconds, .45 seconds off the stakes record.
“I was looking to give her a little break in between races and didn’t know where I was going to run her. I had a big push from Paco Lopez that he was going to over in Tampa for the day to possibly bring her over,” Breen said. “I was a little reluctant because I wanted to give her a little bit more time between races, but I said, ‘You know what? She’s doing well enough, let’s just go ahead and run her.’ She ran an impressive race. A bunch of her races have been in fast times, so she puts out when we put her in the starting gate.
“It's coming up to the same sort of scenario where other than this race that’s coming up. I didn’t know where else to run her,” he added. “At the same time I’m trying to give her a break between races but she’s doing well enough that it looks like Saturday is her day again.”
Junior Alvarado, aboard for each of her two Gulfstream wins, gets a return call from Post 4 in a field of 10. Breen previously won the Captiva Island in 2017 with Pretty Perfection.
Introduced to racing at the age of 12 when his father would take him to Monmouth Park, Breen worked as an exercise rider for leading trainer Walter Reese and, by time he was 18 was an assistant to Scooter Dickey. The New Jersey native operated a small stable from 1992 to 1994, winning his first race with Contarito Oct. 24, 1992 at The Meadowlands.
After working as an assistant to trainer Ben Perkins Jr. from 1994 until Perkins’ retirement in 2000, Breen went out on his own again and became a private trainer for George and Lori Hall at the end of 2006. Based at Monmouth Park, where he was leading trainer in 2005, 2006 and 2020, he achieved national recognition when the Halls’ Ruler On Ice pulled off a 24-1 upset of the 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1).
Ruler On Ice would go on to run second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2), third in the Haskell (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and fourth in the Travers (G1). That same year, also for the Halls, Breen won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Pegasus (G3) and ran eighth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with Pants On Fire.
Now operating a public stable, Breen has won more than two dozen graded-stakes with horses such as Bern Identity, Stonetastic, Miss Sky Warrior, Valedictorian and Firenze Fire.
“I’ve had a barn in New York for years and we’ve been coming down here for years, and everybody’s respectful of each other and it’s all a happy family. It goes back to the owners that give you the confidence to run the horses in the right spots, and, at the same time, a lot of luck,” Breen said. “I didn’t have that big of a stable when I was a private trainer for George and Lori Hall, so I didn’t have a whole lot of wins.
“A lot of the same people that work for me now worked for me then. Going back to a sense of pride and joy and teamwork, it takes a family to get there,” he added. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s a good feeling. You can kind of lose some of the joys of racing and then something comes up like this. It’s a pretty good feat. I’m happy to have the guys that work for me. I’m happy to have the owners that trust me with their horses.”
A top challenger for Train to Artemus is Monarch Stables, Inc.’s Last Leaf, who will break alongside from Post 3 with Jose Ortiz up. The 4-year-old Not This Time filly is a stakes winner on both turf and dirt at Gulfstream who ran third in the 2022 Forward Gal (G3) and most recently finished fifth in the seven-furlong Inside Information (G2) Jan. 28, her first start since being reunited with trainer Ron Spatz.
Michael Vaccarezza’s Little Jewel is entered to make her stakes debut in just her fourth career start, exiting a 4 ½-length maiden special weight triumph sprinting five furlongs on the Gulfstream turf Feb. 3. By Liam’s Map out f the Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude, the 5-year-old mare is a half-sister to multi-millionaire Little Mike, winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Lee Thomas-owned and trained Charlie T has finished third or better in nine of her 10 career starts with four wins and four seconds. The My Pal Charlie filly has been runner-up in back-to-back stakes, the 5 ½-furlong Nelson J. Menard Memorial Jan. 14 at Fair Grounds and five-furlong Ladies’ Turf Sprint Feb. 11 at Gulfstream.
R. Larry Johnson’s Maryland homebred Spun Glass is a two-time stakes winner, taking the Jameela at Laurel and Camptown at Colonial Downs in successive starts last summer. The 6-year-old Hard Spun mare has gone winless in four tries since, including a fifth behind Train to Artemus in the Lightning City.
Completing the field are Mamba Wamba and Imagery, respectively 3-4 in the Ladies’ Turf Sprint; Jumeirah, third in the 2022 Cellars Shiraz; Poseidon’s Passion, eighth in the Lightning City; and Muted.