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Mike previews the 2023 Gulfstream Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) from Gulfstream Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. The Frank Russo-trained Belgrano looks to build off of his victory in the Janus Stakes, held over this same course and distance, but several new threats will try to play spoiler, including former Janus champion Carotari. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
William Branch’s Carotari, a popular and enduring turf sprinter during a career that began nearly five years’ ago, is scheduled to seek his first graded-stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (G3).
What would be more fitting than the 7-year-old gelding breaking through with his first graded-stakes triumph at Gulfstream Park?
During a 29-race career with 10 victories and $688,113 in purse earnings, Carotari has won three of his six stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 7-year-old gelding, who has won four of six starts and finished second once at Gulfstream, is coming off his only off-the-board finish on the local turf. The Brian Lynch graded stakes-placed trainee came up short in the stretch to finish fourth in the December 24 Janus Stakes.
“He probably needed the race off the layoff, and he was drawn down on the inside,” Lynch said. “He came out of the race well and has trained on well since.”
Carotari was making his final start of the 2022 in the Janus three months after capturing the Sept. 24 Laurel Dash.
“I just think he enjoys what he does. As an individual, he’s a big, strong horse,” Lynch said. “He loves to run. He loves to train. When he’s on the top of his game, he’s very tough to beat.”
Joel Rosario has the call on Carotari, who will need to be at the top of his game to prevail over 9 rivals, including defending champion Yes I Am Free.
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Golden Kernel Racing Stable’s Yes I Am Free, who captured his first graded-stakes win with a dominating 3 ¼-length score in last year’s Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, came off a seven-month layoff to register a hard-fought optional claiming allowance win at Gulfstream Jan. 19.
The Laura Cazares-trained turf sprinter, like Carotari, is a 7-year-old gelding who has done his best running on Gulfstream’s turf course., over which the son of Uncaptured has won seven of 14 starts.
Miguel Vasquez has the call.
Peace Sign Stables’ Belgrano enters the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint with a victory in the Janus, in which he rallied from off the pace to win by a head. The 9-year-old gelding finished third in last year’s running of the Turf Sprint.
Paco Lopez has the return mount aboard Belgrano.
Monster Racing Stables’ The Critical Way, a graded-stakes winner who is set for his 2023 debut; Paul Mouttet’s Rockcrest, who finished second in the Vigil (G3) in his Woodbine finale; TEC Racing’s Shekky Shebaz, a multiple graded stakes-placed gelding who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in 2019; and trainer Lee Thomas’ My Pal Mattie, who shipped from Fair Grounds in search of graded-stakes status following back-to-back five-furlong turf wins at Remington Park; are among the most prominent contenders in Saturday’s feature that will co-headline a 12-race program with the $100,000 Ladies Turf Sprint.
JFG Thoroughbreds and Maritza Weston’s Classicstateofmind, Ken Copenhaver’s County Final and Elizabeth Dobles and Imaginary Stables’ Full Disclosure round out a highly competitive field.
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