Close menu
Gulfstream Park Picks | Weaver Hoping To Sweep Royal Palm Stakes
George Weaver (Lauren King / Coglianese Photos)

Gulfstream Park Picks | Weaver Hoping To Sweep Royal Palm Stakes

Trainer George Weaver will seek to earn another trip to Royal Ascot Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he will make a bid to sweep the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies and the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile for a second year in a row.

The Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five furlong turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies carded as Race 8, and the Royal Palm Juvenile, a five furlong turf race for 2-year-olds carded as Race 10, are automatic qualifiers for a choice of six stakes for juveniles during Great Britain’s Royal Ascot meeting that will run June 18-22.

The winners of both of Saturday’s stakes at Gulfstream will also earn $25,000 travel stipends.

Gulfstream Full Card Plays Available Now

There’s a reason we’re the #1 trusted source for premium racing picks & info.

Weaver swept both races in their inaugural runnings last year, saddling Crimson Advocate for a victory in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies and No Nay Mets for a triumph in the Royal Palm Juvenile. Crimson Advocate went on to score a victory in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot. No Nay Mets came up short in the Norfolk Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot before returning to the U.S. to win back-to-back stakes.

“Just trying to make those races everything has to go perfectly. There’s a lot of planning and involvement. Once they earned the shot to go over there, which they did at Gulfstream, it was a beautiful trip,” Weaver said. “The filly won and the other horse didn’t do as well. It was just a great experience for me and my family.”

Weaver will seek to return to Royal Ascot this year, having entered Dewsweepers III’s Bunratty Manor, and Black Type Thoroughbreds and Swinbank Thoroughbreds LLC’s Good Long Cry in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies and Bregman Family Racing LLC and Swinbank Thoroughbreds LLC’s Governor Sam in the Royal Palm Juvenile.

Bunratty Manor is an unraced Irish-bred daughter of No Nay Never, the sire of No Nay Mets who captured the 2013 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Wesley Ward. Good Long Cry is an unraced daughter of Long On Value.

Hector Diaz Jr. has the call on Bunratty Manor, while Edwin Gonzalez has been named to Good Long Cry.

“They’ve done enough that they are ready to make a debut,” Weaver said. “This race is here and because of what happened here last year, we said, ‘Let’s start here.’ We could look for a maiden race, but they’ve done enough in the morning that we think they have a shot, and we want to give them that shot.”

Both fillies have breezed on the turf course at Palm Beach Downs in preparation for the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, which drew a full field of 12.

Governor Sam is an unraced son of Improbable who shares ownership with No Nay Mets, who also campaigned for Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman’s stable.

“He’s doing well. He worked very well at the OBS sale in April,” Weaver said. “He kind of fell into the same mold that No Nay Mets did. We bought No Nay Mets out of the OBS April sale. I think we had him 16 days before he ran. We’re going to ask Governor Sam to do the same thing for Bregman Family Racing that we did last year. It’s a task, but the horse has some speed.”

Gonzalez has the mount on Governor Sam, who is scheduled to meet 11 rivals in the Royal Palm Juvenile.

Weaver will saddle his 2-year-olds Saturday with so many wonderful memories from last years’ experience at Royal Ascot.

“Part of the perk of being involved in horseracing and being a racehorse trainer is the traveling and the experience of seeing things. I’ve been to Royal Ascot a couple times now and it’s a special place for the races. You could feel the energy there,” Weaver said. “Everyone loves the racing there. It’s a fantastic place win, lose or draw, and the fact that we won just put us all over the top. It’s a difficult accomplishment to win at Royal Ascot, especially shipping over there from America. It’s harder on a horse to ship. We don’t have home-court advantage over there. It was exciting. We’re very proud of the horses we took over there.”

Weaver’s entrants will certainly need to earn their way to Royal Ascot while competing in full fields of promising 2-year-olds in both Gulfstream races.

Wesley Ward, who has saddled 12 winners at Royal Ascot, will be represented in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies by Perfect Shances, who is coming off a dazzling 4 ¾-length debut victory April 11 at Keeneland. He is represented in the Royal Palm Juvenile by Raise the Bar, who captured his debut at Keeneland by 2 ¼ lengths.

Walter Rodriguez is named on both Ward trainees at Gulfstream.

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse has entered two in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies – D J Stable LLC’s Bullet and Gary Barber’s My Emmy – and three in the Royal Palm Juvenile – Barber’s Classy War and Garden of War and D J Stable LLC’s Makeit to Cheyenne, all of whom will debut Saturday. 

Bullet was purchased at the 2023 Keeneland September yearling sale for $425,000. She is out of Marlinspike, a winning daughter of Surfside, who was the winner of multiple Grade 1 stakes and more than $1.8 million in purses for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Surfside was out of Flanders, a multiple Grade 1 winner. 

My Emmy, Classy War and Garden of War, are offspring of War of Will, a multiple graded-stakes winner for Barber and Casse who won the 2020 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) on turf at Keeneland. Makeit to Cheyenne, a son of Liam’s Map, was purchased at the 2023 Keeneland September yearling sale for $125,000.

Casse enjoyed Royal Ascot success when he saddled Tepin for a victory in the 2016 Queen Anne (G1).

Gemma Freeman’s Bois Blanc, C2 Racing Stable LLC and Mathis Stable LLC’s The Queens M G and Amy Dunne and Patrick Biancone’s Unchained Elaine will enter the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies off encouraging debuts.

Justin Wojczynski-trained Bois Blanc closed from off the pace to finish second in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Keeneland. Biancone-trained Unchained Elaine chased front-running winner Mensa throughout a 4 ½-furlong maiden test at Gulfstream.

Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained The Queens M G set a pressured pace on her way to victory in a 4 ½-furlong dash at Keeneland before being privately purchased.

Dew Sweepers’ Bright Skittle enters the Royal Palm Juvenile off a most encouraging third-place finish in a 5 ½-furlong turf event at Keeneland, where he closed from last to come up only 1 ¾ lengths short in his debut.