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AMO Racing USA’s Valiant Force, who finished a close-up second in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), is scheduled to make his debut on dirt in Saturday’s $100,000 Limehouse Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The Limehouse, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, will be featured on Saturday’s 11-race program, along with the $125,000 Dania Beach, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, and the $125,000 Ginger Brew, a mile turf stakes for sophomore fillies.
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“It was a team decision. He’s been working out well in the morning. We think this is a good spot to see how he runs on dirt, and we’ll take it from there,” trainer Jorge Delgado said.
Valiant Force, who broke his maiden while winning the Norfolk Stakes (G2) during June’s Royal Ascot meeting, was beaten by a half-length by fellow European Big Evs in his U.S. debut at Santa Anita. The son of Malibu Moon closed with a rush in the stretch to come up short under William Buick.
Valiant Force, the 7-5 morning-line favorite in a field of seven, has been breezing impressively over the main track at Gulfstream in preparation for his dirt debut. He produced a 47-second ‘bullet’ half-mile workout Dec. 22 before coming back Dec. 30 with a half-mile gate work in 47.20.
“We’ve definitely trained him for six furlongs. I don’t do too much with him in the morning because he’s a horse that puts out a lot of effort and tries hard every stride,” Delgado said.
Delgado also entered Golden Rock Thoroughbreds LLC’s Hermoso Hombre, who recently joined his stable following a debut victory and a second-place finish in a starter optional claimer; and AMO Racing USA’s Cuban Thunder, who is coming off a runner-up finish in a two-turn optional claiming allowance on Tapeta. Delgado said Hermoso Hombre is likelier to join Valiant Force in the starting gate, while Cuban Thunder’s status is “50-50.”
European star David Egan is slated to ride Valiant Force for the first time Saturday.
GOP Racing Stable’s Sir Flash enters the Limehouse off a fourth-place finish in the Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs where he recovered from a bumping start to grab the lead in the stretch before coming up short. The Gerard Ochoa-trained son of Not This Time broke his maiden at Gulfstream in his previous start.
Luis Saez has the call.
Don Arienzo Stable LLC and Chestnut Hill Stable’s Steeler Mischief, who broke his maiden at first asking at Hawthorne in a five-furlong sprint, will return to sprinting and dirt in the Limestone. The Fausto Gutierrez-trained son of Maximus Mischief, who will be equipped with blinkers for the first time, was off-the-board in a recent two-turn Tapeta race at Gulfstream last time out.
Irad Ortiz Jr. is named to ride Steeler Mischief.
Holly Crest Farm’s Ship to Shore returns to dirt following a seventh-place finish on turf in the Pulpit. The Eddie Owens Jr.-trained gelding broke his maiden at first asking on dirt before finishing off the board in the Tyro on turf and placing third in the Smoke Glacken on dirt at Monmouth Park.
Hector Diaz Jr. has the return mount.
Endsley Oaks Farm Inc.’s Louie the Sun King, who is coming off a maiden score at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Kathleen O’Connell, rounds out the field.
Jose Ortiz has the ride aboard the son of Awesome Slew.
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