HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Stanley Gold reported that impressive Swale Stakes (3) winner Awesome Banner was bright Sunday morning and wasn’t tired following his 5-length triumph in Saturday’s seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
Having won his first three career starts by a combined 19 ½ lengths, the Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred colt is regarded as an intriguing prospect for the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), should Gold opt to stretch him out to 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park Feb. 27.
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it yet. Honestly, I haven’t,” said Gold, who also saddled Fellowship for a third-place finish behind Mohaymen in the Holy Bull (G3) Saturday. “We still have the other one, Fellowship. There’s no question he’ll go longer. It would be nice to see a bigger field and an honest pace and a little more ground, because he was running down the lane. Yeah, the winner won easy. We got beat six lengths, but he was running. The further they go, the better he’ll like it. I don’t know. I’m going to have to confront it soon, but I don’t have to do it now.”
Gold said he was confident that the distance of the Fountain of Youth wouldn’t be a problem for Awesome Banner.
“I’m confident. The question is when are we going to go two turns and where are we going to run next. Two turns won’t be a problem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win,” Gold said. “He’ll run two turns, because he’s not going to run off with crazy speed.”
Sent to post as the 4-5 favorite, Awesome Banner set a pressured pace in the Swale while running six furlongs in 1:08.88, before drawing away to his third victory without defeat in 1:21.81.
“That was impressive. Eight-and-change – that impressed me. He did just like he did last time. He did it just as impressively, only he went an eighth further against tougher company,” Gold said. “Plus, plus, plus. I’m happy with it.”
Awesome Banner, who debuted in a Gulfstream track record time for 4 ½ furlongs while winning by 9 ¾ lengths June 5, returned from a seven-month layoff to register a front-running 4 ¾-length victory in the six-furlong Hutcheson (G3) Jan. 2. In the Swale, the son of Awesome of Course was challenged by Noholdingback Bear into the stretch before drawing off with little encouragement from jockey Jose Caraballo to finish clear of second-place finisher Economic Model.
“When you see a horse coming, you’re not thinking, ‘Oh, boy, I sure hope he draws off.’ You’re just hoping he has enough staying power to hold off the challenge,” Gold said. “He had more than enough to hold off the challenge. It was like: ‘You’re running for second. I’ll see you later.’ ”
At a time of the year when connections of promising 3-year-olds may be susceptible to Derby Fever, Gold is resisting any urge to start thinking about the first Saturday in May,
“I don’t have Derby Fever at all. It’d be crazy to think about May in February,” said Gold, who has opted for a one-race-at-a-time approach.
Cathryn Sophia Exits G2 Forward Gal Romp in Good Order
Undefeated Cathryn Sophia was ‘great’ Sunday at Palm Meadows Training Center on the morning after her dazzling 5 ½-length romp in Saturday’s $200,000 Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer John Servis reported that Cash Is King LLC’s 3-year-old filly exited her third straight easy score in good order and is scheduled to return to action in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Feb. 27.
Cathryn Sophia, who had won her first two starts by a combined 29 lengths in front-running style, broke a step slowly and raced in tight quarters along the inside before being angled to the outside by Joel Rosario at the top of the stretch, where she jetted past her competition under a confident Joel Rosario.
“I got to watch the replay a couple times and I was very impressed. I thought the race [Saturday] was more impressive than the first two,” Servis said.
The daughter of Street Boss raced somewhat greenly in the stretch, where she changed leads twice, suggesting that there is room for further development.
“If you go back and watch the replay, when Joel pulled her out at the quarter pole, she switched to her right lead a little early. When she went by those horses she was already on her right lead. I watched Joel, when he went to uncock his stick, he looked under his arm and he put the stick away and wrapped up on her,” Servis said. “That was only her third race, so you would sure think there is room for improvement.”
Source: Gulfstream Park