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Pletcher Ponders Future for Newly Acquired Off the Tracks, Zulu Possible for G1 Florida Derby

Pletcher Ponders Future for Newly Acquired Off the Tracks, Zulu Possible for G1 Florida Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Newtown Anner Stud has purchased a majority interest in undefeated Off the Tracks, who captured last Sunday’s Margate Handicap at Gulfstream Park. She has been transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn at Palm Beach Downs.

“We picked her up three days ago and she galloped yesterday and today.  She’s a big, strong filly and looks good,” Pletcher said. “We’ll probably look to gallop her the remainder of this week and start breezing her next weekend with the idea that maybe the Gulfstream Oaks (G2; April 2) is a possibility.”

Formerly trained by Roderick Rodriguez for J Stables, the 3-year-old daughter of Curlin began her career with a maiden special weight victory at Gulfstream June 13 before shipping to Saratoga for a 3 ¼-length triumph in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) July 24. She subsequently sustained a knee injury that required surgery and was sidelined until last weekend, when she posted a dominating 4 ¼-length victory in the 6 ½-furlong Margate.

“I’m familiar with the filly from her race at Saratoga and I watched her race here the other day.” Pletcher said. “You would think with the pedigree that she has she would want to stretch out, so we’ll see how she trains and go from there.”

Pletcher also reported that Zulu exited his runner-up finish behind undefeated Mohaymen in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream in good order.

“He seemed to come back well. I was happy with him. I think he established that he belongs in that type of company. I thought it was a promising effort first time around two turns and obviously running against an extremely talented horse. He held his own,” the 12-time defending Championship Meet titlist. “I think there’s some areas that we can improve upon, his behavior in the post parade being one of them. We’ll continue to work on that and we’ll see how he trains and get a feel for the landscape of some of these races.”

Pletcher said a return in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park April 2 is a possibility.

“The Florida Derby is an option mainly because it’s kind of the first one, but we’ll also keep our eye on how things are developing everywhere,” said Pletcher, who saddled lightly raced Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015) for Florida Derby victories the past two years. “We’ll also consider the Wood Memorial and Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass. This time of year kind of everything is a possibility for all of them because as you know week to week things can change. We have a few to juggle and at this point the next one is a Grade 1 and that could be important for potential stallion career. We’ll probably pick where we think he has the best chance and go from there.”

Zulu, who finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Mohaymen and four lengths clear of third-place finisher Fellowship, launched his career at Gulfstream Park with a six-furlong maiden score Dec. 5 and a 7 ¼-length optional claiming allowance win Jan. 15.

Azar Passes Turf-to-Dirt Test in Sunday Feature
Pletcher-trained Azar passed the turf-to-dirt test in Sunday’s featured 11th race, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance over Gulfstream’s main track. Ridden by John Velazquez, Alto Racing, LLC’s 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy stalked the early pace before closing late to register a victory by three-quarters of a length over Kelly Touch in 1:45.01.

The Triple Crown nominee captured the With Anticipation (G2) on Saratoga’s turf course during his juvenile season and most recently was placed second from third in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on turf at Gulfstream.

“I thought Azar responded really well. From the outside post, he put himself in decent position and he closed resolutely down the lane. It was a good effort from him,” Pletcher said.  “I think we put ourselves in a position where we have some options. He’s run well on the turf and he’s run well on turf, so I think that puts everything in play, including maybe Polytrack. Maybe the Spiral (G3; Turfway Park, April 2). We’ll see how he comes out of it.”

Rainbow 6 Carryover Climbs to $2.178 Million for Thursday’s Program
The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot went unsolved for the 35th consecutive program Sunday, resulting in a carryover of $2,178,641.58 when live racing resumes on Thursday at Gulfstream Park.

A total of $538,556 was wagered Sunday on the Rainbow 6, which spanned Races 7-12. Multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $10,142.56.

The carryover jackpot is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

The popular multi-race wager was last solved for $76,799.38 by one lucky bettor on Jan. 13. The largest payout of the current Championship Meet was $262,634.84 on Jan. 7.

There will also be a $20,111.02 Super Hi-5 carryover for Thursday’s first race.

Who’s Hot: Fresh off a four-win day Saturday, leading jockey Javier Castellano scored two more victories Sunday, visiting the winner’s circle with Bel Citron ($4.60) in the fourth and   Puparee ($5.80) in the fifth.

John Velazquez, Vicente Gudiel and Paco Lopez also doubled. Velazquez scored with Flatlined ($6.80) in the seventh and Azar ($5). Gudiel doubled aboard Whitesoftheireyes ($15.60) in the third and Mo’ Green ($37.40) in the eighth. Lopez tallied with Bride to Be ($6) in the 10th and Brianna’s Bucket ($)   in the 12th.

20-Cent Rainbow 6 Carryover: $2,178,641.58

Super Hi-5 Carryover (Thursday’s first race): $20,111.02

Source: Gulfstream Park

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