HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – William Pacella and Frank Jones Jr.’s Cherry Wine, impressive in his 3-year-old debut last month, remains on course for his next scheduled start in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Dale Romans said the sophomore son of Paddy O’Prado will breeze this weekend over Gulfstream’s main track, his fourth work following his optional claiming allowance victory Jan. 9.
“I’m looking at Saturday right now, depending on the weather and if I have to go to Kentucky for a day. If I do, then I’ll make it Sunday,” Romans said. “He’s training great. He’s a horse that never really seems to have a bad day. He’s just getting mentally more into the game all along. It took him a while to figure it out. His last two races have been spectacular and he’s just been very simple to train.”
Cherry Wine debuted last summer at Saratoga Race Course and needed four more starts to break his maiden, graduating with a dazzling 9 ¼-length victory Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs to cap his juvenile campaign.
A gray colt whose sire was a multiple graded stakes winner and competed in the first two legs of the 2010 Triple Crown, finishing third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Cherry Wine romped by six lengths in his first try against winners going 1 1/16 miles. The runner-up, Battery, came back to win a similar spot at 1 1/8 miles Wednesday.
Also pointing to the Fountain of Youth are undefeated multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen, Swale (G2) winner Awesome Banner, Mucho Macho Man winner Awesome Speed and Gulfstream allowance winner Zulu.
“It’s going to be a tough race but Derby preps are supposed to be tough,” Romans said. “They’re the best of the class and Gulfstream seems to get the best of the best.”
Romans also reported that Keen Ice, who upset Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the Travers (G1) last summer, bounced out of his sixth-place finish in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) Feb. 6 in good shape and will point to the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 26 in Meydan.
“Keen Ice is doing very well. He came out of the race great,” he said. “He just came off the racetrack and he looked good. It was his first day galloping today. He jogged yesterday and looks super. We’re heading to Dubai.”
Mom’z Laugh Can Make it Three Straight Wins in $65,000 Miami Shores
A Bianco Holding’s Mom’z Laugh, already a two-time winner at the Championship Meet, can make it three in a row in Sunday’s feature, the $65,000 Miami Shores for fillies and mares 4 and up.
Bred in Florida and trained by Marcus Vitali, the 4-year-old bay filly is a head shy of having four straight wins, finishing third by that margin in an optional claiming allowance Nov. 19 at Gulfstream Park West.
She has bounced back to take her next two starts, a six-furlong entry-level allowance against open company Dec. 16, beating older horses, and the seven-furlong Sunshine Millions Distaff by a head Jan. 16.
“She’s doing well. I’m going to enter her. She came out of the last race real strong. She’s a head-banger, another fighter. As long as she stays healthy I think we’ll be hearing from her a little bit,” Vitali said.
“She’s a funny filly. She’s in and out of form. I scratch my head. Some days she’s a monster. She’s never bad but, attitude-wise, you can tell in the morning whether you’re having a good day or not so good day. Lately they’ve been mostly good, so that’s a good thing.”
Valid to Run Back at Championship Meet; Lochte Getting Short Break
Trainer Marcus Vitali said that multiple graded stakes winner Valid has already returned to the track following his runner-up finish behind Dubai-bound Mshawish in the Donn, and is likely to run back before the Championship Meet ends April 3.
“He went to the track [Wednesday], looked like a monster. He jogged couple miles the wrong way, just to get him out of the barn a little bit. He acted like he never ran,” Vitali said. “He’s amazing. He runs hard every time and he recuperates. Other horses take a little while, three or four days to come back, with him after day two he’s ready to do something. I have to tell him what to do and not let him tell me. He’s the real deal. He’s a healthy horse.”
The $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) at one mile March 5 and the $150,000 Skip Away (G3) at 1 1/8 miles April 2 are Gulfstream’s two remaining graded stakes on dirt for older horses.
“It’s all up in the air. We’ve got options. He loves it here. We’re looking forward to running him back in the next few weeks, so we’ll see what happens,” Vitali said. “He’ll go either way. I think he runs a little bouncier the longer between. Figuring out these horses is the tricky part of the job. I think he doesn’t want to run too quick but doesn’t want to wait too long, either. He’s going to run a good race regardless, but if you catch him just right when all the cylinders are firing, then you’re going to get a bang-up race like the last couple.”
Meanwhile, Vitali is giving fellow Crossed Sabres Farm-owned stablemate and Grade 1 winner Lochte a short break following his effort in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) Jan. 9 where he was fourth as the favorite, beaten less than two lengths.
For the time being, Lochte remains with Vitali’s string at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“Lochte is all right. I’m giving him a few months R and R. He deserves it. He’s been a real good horse and doesn’t owe anybody anything,” Vitali said. “I feel like he needs to be a horse for two or three months, and might not even be that long depending on how he’s feeling. He’s still at Palm Meadows. He came out of the last race good. I haven’t’ sent him anywhere yet. I’m debating. He’s feeling pretty good. I almost put the tack on him the other day but I’m trying to stick to my guns here and do the right thing.”
“We’ve got a whole summer worth of fun and excitement if they stay healthy. I think it will be exciting. Let’s hope they stay with the program.”
Source: Gulfstream Park