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Florida Sire Series kicks off Saturday at Gulfstream

Gulfstream Complete Digest

Zelenskyy Strong, Awesome Strong Set for Florida Sire Stakes Action

Trainer Jorge Delgado holds a ‘strong’ hand for Saturday’s $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the 2022 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park.

Delgado entered Heehaw Racing’s Zelenskyy Strong and CSLR Ranch Partners’ Awesome Strong Wednesday for the first leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-old offspring of accredited stallions standing in Florida. The Dr. Fager, which drew a field of 10 will co-headline Saturday’s program with the $100,000 Desert Vixen for fillies.

Zelenskyy Strong, a son of Uncaptured who debuted with a 10 ¾-length victory April 22 before finishing fifth in the June 9 Tremont at Belmont Park for trainer Peter Walder, is scheduled to make his first official start for Delgado. However, horse and trainer are hardly strangers.

“I trained him for his first race, but two weeks before the race they made a change to Peter Walder,” said Delgado, who welcomed Zelenskyy Strong back to his stable for the Florida Sire Stakes. “I’m very familiar with him.”

After winning his 4 ½-furlong debut with authority from gate to wire, Zelenskyy Strong chased the early pace while racing wide before tiring in the Tremont.

“He ran against tough competition and didn’t run that bad. I think he’s good enough to perform well in the Sire Stakes,” Delgado said.

Awesome Strong will make his second start for Delgado and his first start for CSLR Ranch Partners, who privately purchased the son of Awesome Slew following his impressive debut victory May 6 at Gulfstream Park.

“We didn’t have a race for him here, but we didn’t want to ship. In the middle of this, he was sold, and the new owner decided to stay with me,” Delgado said. “I’m really looking forward to running him.”

After breaking from the rail post position, Awesome Strong was caught in traffic on the far turn before finding room leaving the turn into the homestretch, where he kicked in to draw away by six lengths.

“He was very impressive. Every week he’s been doing better and better,” Delgado said. “I’ve been working him in company with different horses and he’s been dominating them.”

Miguel Vasquez is scheduled to ride Awesome Strong, while Ailsa Morrison is named to ride Zelenskyy Strong.

Stonehedge LLC’s This Run’s for You, an impressive debut winner July 23, is scheduled to make a quick turnaround for the Dr. Fager.

“It’s unfortunate timing, but he came out of the race good and he’s doing good,” trainer Kathleen O’Connell said. “We can give him another break after this.”

“He comes from a very good family and the owners are very patient as far as letting them develop, I was very happy with the way everything came together,” O’Connell said. “I was really proud of him because it wasn’t an easy maiden special weight race.”

Stonehedge LLC’s Malcoms On the Run, a three-race maiden, has also been entered in the Dr. Fager.

“He’s had three horrendous races where he’s been the victim of circumstances,” O’Connell said.

The homebred son of Khozan finished second in his June 3 debut following a trip in which he raced extremely wide. He followed up with a third-place finish in which he lost by less than a length after being bumped at the top of the stretch. In his most recent start July 10, he settled for third after contesting the pace three-wide.

Edgar Perez will ride This Run’s for You, while Jesus Rios will be aboard Malcoms On the Run.

Arindel will also be represented by a pair of horses in the Dr. Fager, both homebred sons of Brethren coming off debut victories – Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Knox and Juan Alvarado-trained Turbo.

Knox prevailed by 1 ½ lengths over Malcoms On the Run after stalking the early pace and driving to victor along the inside. Turbo, a half-brother to multiple-stakes winner Bernie the Maestro and a full-brother to multiple stakes winner Richard the Great, graduated June 25 by 2 ½ lengths after stalking the early pace.

Sonny Leon has the call aboard Knox, while Edgard Zayas has the mount on Turbo.

William and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Undalay is scheduled to make his first start for trainer Ralph Nicks Saturday. The son of Uncaptured, who was formerly trained by Steve Asmussen, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the July 9 Prairie Meadows Juvenile. The Florida-bred colt previously graduated at Churchill Downs in his third career start a month earlier. Leonel Reyes has the call on Undalay.

Champion Equine LLC’s Commandant, a $300,000 purchase at the OBS April sale, enters the Dr. Fager off an impressive debut victory June 25, in which he made an eight-wide rally from eighth to graduate by a half-length. Trainer David Braddy named Luca Panici to ride Commandant.

William Churly and Shadowbrook Farm Inc.’s Cajun Hope, who finished second behind Commandant following a late rally, will enter the Dr. Fager off a 3 ¾-length maiden victory in his fourth career start. Marcos Meneses has the call aboard the Michel Yates trainee.

“He’s had some experience and I think he’s coming into this race the right way,” Yates said. “He’s got some races under his belt, and that’s pretty important.

Yates saddled homebred Cajun’s Magic for a Dr. Fager victory last year.

William Law Jr.’s Awesome Flay, who graduated for a $25,000 claiming price in his fifth career start last time out, rounds out the field. Romero Maragh has the mount on the Sandra Slivka trainee.

Cajun Breeze Well Represented in Saturday’s Florida Sire Stakes

Trainer Michael Yates took a leap of faith when he decided to stand Cajun Breeze at stud upon the hard-knocking campaigner’s retirement in 2015 following a steady but hardly remarkable 33-race career.

The son of Congrats, who earned nearly $250,000 without winning a stakes race, has rewarded the Florida Thoroughbred owner, breeder and trainer’s confidence in his stallion potential by producing a FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes winner from his very first crop. Yates’ Cajun Firecracker captured the 2018 Dr. Fager Division of the lucrative series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.

Cajun Breeze has also sired Stonehedge LLC’s Breeze On By, the winner of two legs of the 2020 Florida Sire Stakes series, and Yates’ Cajun’s Magic, who captured last year’s Dr. Fager before finishing second in the final two legs of the series.

“I really always felt he had the capabilities to be a really good racehorse, that’s why I bred him to my mares,” Yates said. “It has definitely been great to watch this go on and to be a part of it.”

Cajun Breeze moved from Yates’ Shadowbrook Farm after two seasons to Stonehedge Farm after the late Gil Campbell and his wife Marilyn purchased a half-interest.

Yates will seek his first success in the filly division of the FSS series with a daughter of Cajun Breeze in the $100,000 Desert Vixen, a six-furlong dash that will co-headline Saturday’s program at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Dr. Fager. Homebred Go Lil Lady enters the Desert Vixen off a sharp debut victory at Gulfstream June 9, when she produced a front-running 7 ¼-length romp in a 4 ½-furlong dash during a sudden rainstorm.

‘She had worked well. It was a weird track. It was a harrowed racetrack and it started to downpour as they were loading into the gate. It was absolutely pouring during the whole race, so it’s hard to tell anything about the race,” said Yates, who is also scheduled to saddle homebred Cajun Hope for a start in the Dr. Fager.

Yates was on course to saddle as many as three fillies for the Desert Vixen until he recently sold homebred Girl Bye and Stonehedge LLC’s Cajun Tease was knocked out of the race when she got sick this week.

Miguel Vasquez has the return mount aboard Go Lil Lady.

Girl Bye is scheduled to clash with her former stablemate after being privately purchased by Smith Ranch Stables and joining Luis Ramirez’s stable. She graduated at first asking April 21 by 6 ½ lengths. She is coming off a third-place finish in the June 9 Astoria at Belmont Park.

Marcos Meneses, who was aboard for her maiden score, returns to the saddle Saturday.

Cajun Breeze will also be represented in the Desert Vixen by Stonehedge LLC’s Val’s Gal. The Ralph Nicks-trained filly graduated at second asking with a front-running 5 ½-furlong score. Leonel Reyes has the call aboard Val’s Gal.

It should be noted that Cajun Breeze’s half sister Cajun Delta Dawn was victorious in the Desert Vixen and the second leg of the series for trainer David Fawkes in 2016.

Fawkes is back for the Desert Vixen with Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Trust Me, who is coming off a sharp three-length score in her second career start. The daughter of The Big Beast came up short in the stretch to finish second behind Lynx in her May 19 debut.

“I didn’t have her as fit as I’d have liked. Honestly, I didn’t think she’d get beat the first time. At the 16th-pole I knew I was in trouble. I said, ‘I’m running out of racetrack and trainer, both,’” Fawkes said. “The filly I got beat by is really nice.”

Sonny Leon, this year’s Kentucky Derby-winning jockey who has relocated to Gulfstream from Ohio this summer, has the call on Trust Me.

“Sonny breezed her the other day and really, really liked her,” said Fawkes, who saddled 2010 Eclipse sprint champion Big Drama for a sweep of the 2008 FSS series.

Trust Me will seek to turn the tables on Arindel’s Lynx, who is scheduled to make her first start since prevailing by 1 ¾ over the Fawkes trainee in her May 19th debut. Lynx’s performance was particularly impressive considering that the homebred daughter of Brethren was steadied a few times during the early going. Edgard Zayas is scheduled to ride the Carlos David-trained filly.

Lea Farms LLC’s Gemma’s Curls enters the Desert Vixen off a five-length romp in a maiden race for $25,000 claimers in her June 26 debut at five furlongs. Luca Panici has been named to ride the Jorge Delgado-trained daughter of Bucchero.

Cal-Ram Racing LLC’s Miss Aria makes her stakes debut Saturday off a six-length debut victory in a $50,000 maiden claiming race July 15. Armando De La Cerda has awarded the mount to Romero Maragh.

Fly With Me and Twin Racings Stables’ Major Pryce, a daughter of Bucchero who was second behind Val’s Gal in her July 8 debut, and Crystal Lanum’s Princess Dakota, a daughter of Big Drama who finished third in a $25,000 maiden claimer in her debut, round out the field

The Florida Sire Stakes series will continue on Sept. 3 with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl for fillies and the $200,000 Affirmed at seven furlongs and on Oct. 1 with the $400,000 My Dear Girl for fillies and the $400,000 In Reality at 1 1/16 miles.


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