by John Mucciolo
A pair of graded races on the lawn will headline a 12-race card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Eight are entered, including a main-track only contestant, for the $100,000 Tropical Turf Stakes (G3).
The one-mile grassy test attracted a nice cast, but the race surely goes through multiple Grade 1 standout Heart to Heart. The eight-year-old son of English Channel makes his seasonal debut in this spot and is quite fond of the Gulfstream course, with five wins from seven local appearances. The bay even enjoyed major success on this lawn last season with a victory in the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1). Julien Leparoux will be in the saddle for conditioner Brian Lynch.
Christophe Clement’s White Flag will try to stretch his ability out to a mile in his 2019 bow. The five-year-old son of War Front is a high-quality turf sprinter who closed off last campaign with a superb win in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship Stakes.
Dale Romans’ Mr Freeze turned heads with an eye-popping romp in the West Virginia Derby (G3) last summer and will make his grass debut in the Tropical Turf. The Kentucky-bred son of To Honor and Serve has five winning turf siblings and has trained well for this assignment. Regular pilot Robby Albarado retains the mount.
Grade 3 turf winner Doctor Mounty, Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes runner-up Your Only Man, George Weaver’s Holiday Stone and Grade 3-placed Vici round out the cast. Grade 2 scorer Conquest Big E is the main-track only entrant.
An octet of fillies and mares will travel 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the $100,000 Marshua’s River Stakes (G3), and conditioner Brian Lynch has the one to beat in this affair as well. Wonder Again Stakes (G3) heroine La Signare makes her initial run of the season following a handful of solid morning drills leading up to her return.
The French import backed up after leading to the turn for home in last July’s Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) in what turned out to be her 2018 finale. The bay lass should appreciate both the class relief and cut back in distance in this spot. Jockey Jose Ortiz climbs aboard the talented four-year-old.
Multiple stakes queen Bellavais draws the rail and could capitalize on having a run under her belt at this meeting. The chestnut daughter of Tapit was a solid fourth in the My Charmer Stakes (G3) in advance of this one. The five-year-old was victorious in the 2017 Ginger Brew Stakes on this course and will be paired with Javier Castellano.
Bombshell has turned the corner since arriving in the barn of Arnaud Delacour and dominated the Forever Together Stakes on the Aqueduct dirt in her 2018 finale. The Bellamy Road mare shows just a trio of lifetime turf performances but was a winner on two of those occasions. Leading rider Luis Saez will be up.
All Along Stakes vixen Valedictorian, multiple stakes heroine I’m Betty G and Riskaverse Stakes heroine Monte Crista all deserve mention in this quality turf affair.