Liza Star Back to Defend Title in Claiming Crown Glass Slipper
Dec 3, 2020
Trainer Walder Seeks Third Glass Slipper/Iron Horse Double
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– The Claiming Crown will be hosted by Gulfstream Park for the ninth year in a row Saturday, and no trainer is looking forward to the nine-race event more than Peter Walder.
“This is our Breeders’ Cup, the claiming guys’ Breeders’ Cup,” Walder said. “Thankfully, we’ve been successful the past few years. Hopefully, Saturday we can do something again.”
Walder will seek to pull off a Glass Slipper/Iron Horse double for the third time Saturday. Last year, he saddled Liza Star for a victory in the Glass Slipper, a mile race for fillies and mares that raced for a claiming price of $12,500 or lower, and Yes I See for a triumph in the Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up that raced for a claiming price of $8,000 or lower. Both winners were owned by Ron Paolucci Racing LLC, who teamed with Walder in 2015 to win the Glass Slipper with Moonshine Promise and the Iron Horse with Runs With Bulls.
Liza Star is scheduled to return to defend her title in the $80,000 Glass Slipper, which she captured in gate-to-wire fashion last year. The 6-year-old daughter of Cool Coal Man is coming off a troubled fifth-place finish in the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico on the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard.
“She blew a shoe in her last race. I really thought she had a good shot to win it,” Walder said. “She’d trained well over the track, but she blew a shoe at the beginning of the race. She lost all chance.”
In her prior three starts, the Florida-bred mare finished third in the Sheer Drama at Gulfstream and an optional claiming allowance at Saratoga after winning an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream.
“After her last race, I sent her to the farm for some R & R. She deserved a break. I sent her to the farm for two weeks and brought her back in. She’s had a couple works and she’s fresh,” Walder said. “Hopefully, she’ll be ready to defend her title.”
Just as he did leading up to last year’s Glass Slipper, in which Liza Star led throughout under Ricardo Santana Jr., Walder views the mile distance of Saturday’s stake as less than ideal for his defending champion, whose best efforts have come at six and seven furlongs.
“Ricardo did a great job with her. He really walked the dog. I’m still hesitant about it,” Walder said. “On the right day against the right bunch she can do it, but I’m still hesitant about it.”
Tyler Gaffalione, fresh off completing a title sweep of all six Kentucky meets this year, returns to Gulfstream to ride Liza Star.
Due to his hesitation about the mile distance, Walder has also entered Descente in the Glass Slipper. The 4-year-old daughter of Bodemeister will be making her first start for Walder, who claimed her for himself for $6,250 out of a 4 ½-length victory at in a mile-and-7-yard race at Gulfstream Park West Oct. 18. The filly has won five of seven starts this year.
“She’s a winner. Right off the bat, I wasn’t thinking about this race. Then, I worked her and she worked really good. Then, I worked her again and she worked really good. I said to myself, ‘You only get one shot at this thing. She knows how to win.,’” Walder said. “I think the break did her really good. I think she complements Liza Star’s running style. Obviously, Liza Star will be going to the lead and I have this filly who’ll sit off the pace. Maybe we can do what we did last year in the Iron Horse and run 1-2.”
Miguel Vasquez has been named to ride Descente for the first time Saturday.
The Walder duo is scheduled to meet eight other fillies and mares in the Glass Slipper, including John Fanelli’s Slingin Sammy B, who has won her three starts at Parx. The 4-year-old daughter of Cross Traffic is coming off a 3 ¼-length victory in a mile-and-70-year allowance after winning back-to-back starter allowances. Trainer Joe Tayler named Luis Saez to ride Slingin Sammy B.
Owner/trainer Kendall Condie’s Charge Account, who finished third on turf in a Gulfstream Park West stakes last time out after winning a mile optional claiming allowance over the main track, is also a prominent contender. Dana Grace, Bargainaire, Chubofftheoldblock, Don’t Get Khozy and Victory Crusade are also entered in the Glass Slipper.
In order to pull off the Glass Slipper/Iron Horse double again, Walder will need a much-improved effort from Charlie the Greek in the $75,000 Iron Horse, which drew a full field of 12, plus four also-eligibles. Walder owns the hard-knocking gelding in partnership with Brian Hanley, Scott Estes and Greg Boyer. Of course, Walder-trained Yes I See defeated stablemate Sensational Ride at 66-1 in last year’s Iron Horse.
A winner of 10 races from 59 career starts, Charlie the Greek has finished third and fifth in his two optional claiming allowance starts since being for $16,000.
“He hasn’t run as well as I’d have liked the last couple of times. I’m taking the mentality that you’ve got to be in it to win it. I think he’s better than he’s been running and hoping he’ll wake up in there,” Walder said. “He went on a run last year. I think his best race wins this, but I haven’t been able to get his best race yet. I haven’t run him over here since I’ve had him, so I’m hoping that once we get him over to Gulfstream, he’ll kind of wake up.”
Miguel Vasquez has the call.
Trainer Brad Cox, the front-runner for the 2020 Eclipse Award who has stalls at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, will be represented by Frost or Frippery, a winner of 20 races during his career. The 7-year-old gelding has won six of seven starts since behind claimed for $20,000 by Cox and Steve Landers Racing LLC our of a winning effort at Oaklawn Park in April.
Luis Saez has the call aboard the son of Lewis Michael.
Mohan Stable Inc.’s Bobby G has ventured from Laurel Park for the Iron Horse, in which he’ll seek his fourth straight victory. The Jonathan Maldonado-trained 6-year-old gelding captured a ‘Win and In’ Iron Horse qualifier Oct. 2 at Pimlico and went on to win two more starter optional claiming races at Laurel. The hard-knocking son of Awesome Again has won 15 of 42 career starts while finishing in the money on 20 occasions.
Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Bobby G for the first time Saturday.
IAB Stables and Walter Fralick’s Quenane, who pulled off a big upset over multiple-stakes winner Noble Drama in the Nov. 14 Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream Park West last time out, will run right back in the Iron Horse. The Tamara Levy-trained 6-year-old gelding will be ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado.
Heehaw Racing’s Snap Hook brings consistently sharp recent form into the Iron Horse, having won four times and finished second twice in the six starts since being claimed by Jorge Delgado. Rounding out the well-balanced field are Souper Fly Over, Incubator, Deal Driven, O’Kram, Bold Paynter, Business Cycle and Meade. First and Three, Il Faraone, Geonosis and Brasstown are on the also eligible list.
Walder is also looking for an improved effort from Crea’s Brklyn Law in the $85,000 Rapid Transit, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $16,000 or lower.
Crea’s Brklyn Law won at first asking after being claimed $12,500 in June and produced a pair of solid in-the-month placings before finishing a dull sixth last time out in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West.
“When I claimed him, he ran some monster races. I think he was tired when he ran over there and didn’t like the track. I’m hoping coming back over here will be a welcome thing for him. I gave him a little break and sent him to the farm with Liza Star,” Walder said.
Miguel Vazquez, who finished second aboard the son of Sky Mesa back in May, has the call.
“I like the cutback to seven-eighths. There’s a ton of speed in the race,” Walder said. “Hopefully, he’ll come running in the end. I think Miguel suits him.”
Lawson Racing Stables will be looking for a quick return on its investment in the Rapid Transit with I’m a G Six, who was claimed for $62,500 out of his most recent race Sept. 20 at Gulfstream. The son of Alternation, who is now trained by 17-time Championship Meet titlist Todd Pletcher, had also been claimed for $62,500 out of his previous race. The 4-year-old gelding became eligible for the Claiming Crown Jewel while finishing fourth under a $32,000 claiming tag in an optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs in February 2019.
Irad Ortiz Jr. has been awarded the mount aboard the Kentucky-bred, who has won seven of 26 career starts.
Noda Brothers LLC’s T Loves a Fight has been shipped from Belmont Park for the Rapid Transit. The Orlando Noda-trained 6-year-old New York-bred gelding, who is stakes-placed in two of his last three starts against state-bred rivals, has earned more than $600,000 in purses.
Edgard Zayas will ride the son of Girolamo for the first time Saturday.
Rounding out the field for the Rapid Transit are the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained duo of Yodel E. A. Who and Two Classic, Miles Ahead, All Around, Avant Garde, Examiner, Joe Di Baggio, Fix Me a Sandwich and Lookin At Roses.
The $75,000 Express, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $8 or lower, drew a field of nine, including Krsto Skye, who has run well in graded-stakes races in his last two starts. The Carlos David-trained 8-year-old gelding finished a close second in the Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream before finishing fourth in the De Francis Memorial (G3) at Pimlico. Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to ride the son of City Zip, Proud Stable Inc.’s Dirtyfoot will seek his fifth straight victory in the Express. The Bruno Tesore-trained 5-year-old gelding has won all four starts since being claimed for $5,000. The son of Tiz Wonderful invades from Pimlico, where he won a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for the Express Oct. 2. He came back to win a starter allowance at Parx Oct. 27. Emisael Jaramillo has the call.
Frank Carl Calabrese’s Combination and Paradise Farms Corp.’s Long Blade, who finished 1-2 in a recent optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West, are among the top contenders. Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Combination came off a four-month layoff to finish a neck ahead of Long Blade, who was claimed by trainer Michael Maker for $25,000 out of the race. Edgard Zayas has the return mount aboard Combination, while Long Blade will be ridden by Luis Saez.
Ray’swarrior, Killa Dee, White Wolf, Game Boy Benny, and Whyruawesome round out the field.