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Double B Racing Stables’ Lure Him In figures to feel very much at home Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the 7-year-old gelding is scheduled to clash with six other Florida-breds in the $75,000 Sunshine Classic.
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The son of Khozan began his career with back-to-back victories in claiming races over the main track in 2019 before winning his turf debut and placing in a turf stakes in 2020. He was subsequently shipped to Southern California.
The Stonehedge Farm homebred was graded stakes-placed at Santa Anita in 2021 for trainer Bob Hess Jr. before returning to Gulfstream Park briefly to win the 2022 Sunshine Turf. Lure Him In made two more transcontinental trips before being claimed for $40,000 at Del Mar in September and shipped back to South Florida.
“The horse ran here way back. We happened to be in California running some horses, and he happened to come up [in the entries]. I said, ‘For 40 thousand, if we can get him back to his old self, he’s a decent horse,’” trainer Herman Wilensky said. “He fits Florida racing perfect, because he’s Florida-bred. We claimed him and brought him back here.”
Lure Him In won at first asking in an optional claiming allowance on dirt Nov. 25.
“He just needed some time off. We gave him a couple of weeks off. We brought him to Remington, where we were running a few, and then brought him back here and started training him, We got him in shape,” Wilensky said. “He wasn’t even 100-percent ready when he ran. He obviously ran a great race. We put him on dirt, where we thought he would run better, and he performed.”
Lure Him In earned a shot in a graded stakes for his next start in the Dec. 30 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), in which he broke from the No. 10 post and was forced to race wide throughout the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus World Cup (G1) prep won by multiple graded-stakes winner O’Connor.
“He got the [outside] post and got taken wide the whole way. I’m not saying he would have beaten those nice horses, but he would have run better,” Wilensky said. “I think this race will fit him a lot better.”
Lure Him In, who will be ridden by Edwin Gonzalez in the 1 1/16-mile Sunshine Classic, has won four of seven races over the Gulfstream Park main track.
“He’s a solid racehorse. He’ll run on anything. It doesn’t matter, he wants to run. He’s the kind of horse I like to train,” Wilensky said. “You put him in, and he’s going to try.”
Lure Him in is rated second at 5-2 behind 7-5 morning-line favorite Octane, who is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Harlan’s Holiday.
Juan Alvarado-trained Octane had previously captured the Gil Campbell Memorial Handicap at Tampa Bay Downs.
Arindel’s 5-year-old gelding has amassed earnings of more than $675,000 while finishing first or second in 10 of 16 career starts.
Edgard Zayas has the return call on the homebred son of Brethren.
Arindel will also be represented in the Sunshine Classic by The Skipper Too, a steady-running 5-year-old son of Brethren who has been in the money in 12 of 18 starts at Gulfstream. Emisael Jaramillo has the call.
My Purple Haze Stables’ Khozeiress returns to Gulfstream, where the Terri Pompay-trained 4-year-old son of Khozan has been in the money in all of his eight starts. He defeated multiple graded stakes-placed West Coast Cowboy in an overnight handicap two starts back at Gulfstream.
Leonel Reyes has the mount.
Raging Bull Stables Inc. and Infinity’s Cashier Check, TK Stables LLC’s Slim Slow Slider, and Soldi Stable LLC’s Granted Success round out the field.
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