March 29, 2023

Gufo back for Pan American on stakes-packed Florida Derby undercard

Gufo wins the Sword Dancer Stakes (Photo by Chris Rahayel/Coglianese Photos)

Along with a pair of major qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1), the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) and $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Gulfstream will offer an additional eight stakes on Saturday’s blockbuster 14-race program.

Here are some of the highlights.

Pan American (G2) – Race 9 (3:37 p.m. ET)

Multiple Grade 1 winner Gufo, unraced since an unplaced finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), will open his five-year-old season in the $200,000 Pan American (G2) at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

An earner of more than $1.2 million, Gufo will retain the services of Joel Rosario, and Christophe Clement will remove blinkers. The chestnut son of Declaration of War has been pegged as the 9-5 second choice on the morning line.

Other runners in the seven-horse field include Abaan and Temple, and the Pan American serves as a rubber match after splitting the Mac Diarmida (G2) and W.L. McKnight (G3) in their last two starts.

Abaan, who rolled to a two-length win in the McKnight in late January, is listed as the 8-5 favorite following a troubled fourth in the Mac Diarmida. Luis Saez rides for Todd Pletcher. Temple, a one-length scorer in the Mac Diarmida for Mike Maker, has been installed as the 5-2 third choice with Jose Ortiz.

Ghostzapper (G3) – Race 6 (1:57 p.m. ET)

Contested over 1 1/8 miles, the $100,000 Ghostzapper (G3) has a pair of major contenders in Greatest Honour and Fearless.

Greatest Honour recorded convincing wins in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Holy Bull (G3) before ending last year with a third in the Florida Derby, and the Shug McGaughey-trained Tapit colt is eligible to improve upon a sixth in the March 12 Challenger S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Fearless should appreciate getting away from Speaker’s Corner in the seven-horse field, finishing second to that classy rival in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) and Fred Hooper (G3), and the six-year-old gelding loves it at Gulfstream (7-4-3-0).

Appleton (G3) – Race 12 (5:55 p.m. ET)

Unraced since taking the 2021 Mac Diarmida, Phantom Currency will bring a two-race win streak to his first start in 13 months, the $100,000 Appleton (G3). Irad Ortiz Jr. will take over the reins on the six-year-old gelding, and Phantom Currency looks like the one to catch among nine contestants in the mile turf race.

Carpenters Call will make his stakes debut with a three-race win skein in tow, and English Bee will make his third start off the layoff following a respectable third in the March 5 Canadian Turf (G3).

Orchid (G3) – Race 3 (12:28 p.m. ET)

Winner of the La Prevoyante (G3) two back, Beautiful Lover will make her career finale against six opponents in the $150,000 Orchid (G3). The Clement-traineed mare will head to the breeding shed after the 1 1/2 miles turf affair, and Rosario guides.

Cutler Bay S. – Race 5 (1:27 p.m. ET)

Multiple stakes victor Red Danger is among eight sophomores seeking the $100,000 Cutler Bay S. at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Winner of December’s Pulpit S. over the course, the Brian Lynch trainee will look to improve upon a fourth as the favorite in the Palm Beach (G3) last out, and Saez will pilot.

Main Event, a neck second when making his stakes debut in the Palm Beach, is a contender for George Weaver, and Smokin’ T merits respect on the switch back to turf.

Sir Shackleton S. – Race 10 (4:09 p.m. ET)

Grade 3 winner Weyburn will return from a six-month layoff and make his first start for trainer Brendan Walsh in the $100,000 Sir Shackleton S. at seven furlongs.

On the Triple Crown path last season, the Pioneerof the Nile colt received a freshening after a fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2). Weyburn finished a neck second to Mandaloun in the Pegasus S. next out, and wound up fourth behind Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy (G2), before completing his three-year-old season with an unplaced outing in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). Tyler Gaffalione will be up.

Collaborate, Fortin Hall, Girolamo’s Attack, and Shivaree are also among the nine entrants.