May 19, 2022

Dr. Fager, Desert Vixen kick off Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park

The 2017 Florida Sire Stakes begins Saturday at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Dr. Fager and Desert Vixen divisions going six furlongs.

The annual series for juveniles sired by nominated stallions standing in Florida continues September 2 with the $200,000 Affirmed and Susan’s Girl divisions before concluding September 30 with the $400,000 In Reality and My Dear Girl divisions.

First up, though, eight colts and geldings will line up in the Dr. Fager while the same number of fillies has been entered in the Desert Vixen.

In the past, trainer Stanley Gold teamed with Jacks or Better Farm to win a record 18 Florida Sire Stakes series races. However, they parted ways more than a year ago. Since then, Gold has taken up with Alan Cohen’s prominent Ocala breeding farm and racing stable, Arindel, and on Saturday will saddle a pair of Arindel homebreds by sire Brethren in Dunk and Tip Sheet in the Dr. Fager.

“I wasn’t expecting to be in this position. I was down to four horses,” Gold said. “I got a phone call for the horses – it was the last thing I was expecting – and then we made an agreement.”

Dunk took three tries to break his maiden, getting the job done by 8 3/4 lengths on July 15 while going 5 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream under returning rider Emisael Jaramillo. The dark bay colt also tops this field in terms of BRIS Prime Power (130.9). It only took Tip Sheet two races to earn his first score, doing so at five furlongs against maiden claimers by three parts of a length on July 6. Aby Medina will ride the dark bay colt Saturday.

“The first time he didn’t break any good at all. He broke good in the morning, but he hadn’t been in under the gun in the heat of fire,” Gold said in regards to Dunk’s first start. “He hadn’t done anything wrong. He got into a race and spotted the field. He came running and got used up. That’s what happens with the babies.

“He ran really poor and there wasn’t any reason why anyone would claim him for ($50,000),” the trainer continued about Tip Sheet. “He had been breezing great. I thought he was maiden-special and then he threw a bad race. He broke last and was last all the way around.

“I took him back to the gate. I had the blinkers on him and he was acting like an idiot and didn’t want to go in the gate. I pulled the blinkers off and he got right in the gate and broke right out, so I ran him without the blinkers.”

Jacks or Better Farm is represented by Kingston Pike in the Dr. Fager. The Ralph Nicks trainee ran a decent second in his first start on May 3, but then was bumped hard and saw his jockey lose the irons next out in early June. The Awesome of Course chestnut was a well-beaten last of eight that day but some changes have been made since then.

The most important of those is that Kingston Pike will run as a gelding for the first time on Saturday. He’ll also get a new jockey in Luca Panici for this race.

Nicks has two other runners in the Dr. Fager – Phantom Ro and Soutache. Each broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream, the former doing so going 4 1/2 furlongs on July 8 and the latter at five furlongs on July 2. Phantom Ro reunites with jockey Edgard Zayas in this spot while Soutache will be piloted by Jorge Ruiz for the first time.

“It was a good effort. Anytime they win first time out they’re not making a lot of mistakes,” Nicks said of Phantom Ro. “He got away a little slow and took a little dirt and got himself right back in the race. I thought it was very professional. This is the proper step up from there.

“He’d trained good enough going into it. I thought he’d be competitive first time,” he added. “I expected him to be a little faster from the gate. He kind of missed the break a little bit but at the end of the day it was probably the best thing for him, education-wise.

“He’s a nice horse,” Nicks added about Soutache. “He broke from the inside and went straight to the lead and held off a fast-closing horse of (trainer Todd) Pletcher’s. I would think that he would be the favorite over Phantom Ro between the two of them. The timing is great for both of them.”

Completing the Dr. Fager field are last-out maiden winners Majestic Secret and Little Doubt, and maiden Doctor Chat.

Gold and Arindel return one race earlier with Awesome Mass in the Desert Vixen division for juvenile fillies. The dark bay daughter of Brethren was an 11-length maiden winner in her third try just 2 1/2 weeks ago on July 20. Jaramillo was aboard for that romp, which came in a final time of :57.18 for five furlongs, and retains the mount here.

“Did I expect her to run four-fifths (of a second) off the track record? No,” Gold said. “I expected that if she got away from the gate clean, she could wire the field. When she did get away clean and got to the front – and I could tell she was well reserved and they were chasing her – I just hoped she wouldn’t run out of trainer.

“When she turned for home, there was a point where I knew that she had it. Did I expect her to hit another gear and widen from the field? That was a real pleasant surprise.”

Nicks also has one in the Desert Vixen for Jacks or Better Farm. Pantyhose will attempt to break her maiden in this spot after sandwiching a third-place run between a pair of runner-up efforts thus far. The Awesome of Course chestnut gets Zayas in the irons for the first time.

Go Astray is unique in that the Angel Rodriguez trainee brings prior stakes experience into the Desert Vixen. The dark bay daughter of Gone Astray broke her maiden by 4 3/4 lengths on June 17 and returned two weeks later to be fourth, beaten only a length, in the Brave Raj Stakes last out on July 1. Jose Batista has the call for the first time on the filly.

Also entered are Valid Interest and Sittin On Cotton, who broke their maidens in their first starts last out. Completing the Desert Vixen field are Right On, Starship Bonita and Iwannatalkaboutme, who are all seeking their first wins in this spot.