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Hurricane Bertie Stakes 2024 | Gulfstream Park Picks
Spirit Wind (Gonzalo Anteliz/Eclipse Sportswire)

Hurricane Bertie Stakes 2024 | Gulfstream Park Picks

Spirit Wind will seek to win her second straight stakes triumph in Saturday’s $125,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream Park while looking for her first victory for Miller Racing LLC and leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

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Spirit Wind will need to run like the wind to send her new connections to the winner’s circle following the 19th running of the Hurricane Bertie, a 6 ½-furlong stakes for older fillies and mares that will co-headline Saturday’s 11-race program with the $100,000 Silks Run, a five-furlong turf dash for older horses.

“She’s doing well. She’s coming into the race in good order. She won [the Sugar Swirl] for different connections. We bought her after that race,” Joseph said. “I expect her to run well.”

The 5-year-old daughter of Bahamian Squall, who captured the Dec. 23 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream for owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm Inc. and trainer Carlos David, will face a deep field of eight fillies and mares, including new stablemate Libban, whom Joseph trains for C2 Racing and Paul Braverman.

Privately purchased since her front-running victory in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl, Spirit Wind has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Hurricane Bertie. The Jacks or Better homebred mare has shown superior speed during an eight-race career that includes a 15 ½-length maiden score in her second start that was followed by open-lengths victories in the Any Limit and Musical Romance.

Her attempt to complete an undefeated 2022 campaign fell short with a second-place finish behind multiple Grade 1-stakes winner Ce Ce in the Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream.

Spirit Wind came off a nine-month layoff to capture an optional claiming allowance over Joseph-trained Bluefield in March 2023 before finishing fourth in the Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs two months later and going to the sidelines again for six months.

Transferred from Ralph Nicks to David, Spirit Wind opened up on the field early and held on late to win by a half-length in the Sugar Swirl, in which she defeated Miller Racing LLC’s Intrepid Daydream.

“She beat me a couple times. I know her quite good. She beat me with Bluefield, and she beat me with Intrepid Daydream,” Joseph said. “Now we’re on her team. Hopefully, we can be on her team going forward.”

Libban returns to one-turn for the Hurricane Bertie following a pair of disappointing two-turn starts in the Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs and the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream. The 4-year-old daughter of Laoban, who finished second in her May 21 debut, won three straight one-turn races before being stretched out.

Edgard Zayas has the mount aboard Spirit Wind, while Tyler Conner will ride Libban for the first time Saturday.

AMO Racing USA’s Olivia Darling, who rallied with a wide run to finish three-quarters of a length behind Spirit Wind while checking in third in the Sugar Swirl, is rated second at 2-1 on the morning line.

The 5-year-old daughter of Palace came off her promising Sugar Swirl performance to capture the Jan. 27 Inside Information (G2) by 2 ½ length over Bluefield.

David Egan is scheduled to ride the Jorge Delgado trainee for the first time Saturday.

Ashbrook Farm and Upland Flats Racing’s Red Carpet Ready, a multiple graded-stakes winning 4-year-old daughter of Oscar Performance, is rated third at 9-2 on the morning line for her return off an eight-month layoff.

The Rusty Arnold trainee won four of her first five starts, including victories in the Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream and the Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill Downs last year before to the sidelines following an off-the-board finish in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park last July.

Luis Saez, who was aboard for both graded-stakes scores, has the return call.

Sheri Greenberg Racing, Staghawk Stables, Tom Reiman and Ron Johnson’s Unifying, who has been first, second or third in nine of 10 career starts, is slated to make her graded-stakes debut Saturday.

The Riley Mott-trained 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags is coming off a pair of in-the-money stakes finishes after a six-month layoff following a victory in the Leslie’s Lady Stakes at Ellis Park in June.

Joel Rosario has the call on Unifying.

Veteran stakes performer Cheetara is scheduled to make her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher since behind purchased by Mike Repole for $135,000 at the Keeneland November sale.

Paco Lopez has the call on Cheetara, a 7-year-old daughter of Daddy Long Legs who has earned more than $380,000 during her 27-race career.

Mary Lightner’s Dreamster and Mellon Patch Inc.’s Lady Radler round out the field.