May 26, 2024

Sadler’s Joy to defend title in Pan American; On Leave among 10 in Honey Fox

Sadler's Joy went last to first in his Mac Diarmida seasonal reappearance (Photo courtesy Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography)

Sadler’s Joy brought his formidable late kick to the March 3 Mac Diarmida (G3), rallying from far back to win going away, and the Grade 1 victor will be the one to beat when he makes a title defense in Saturday’s $250,000 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old horse tops a field of nine long-distance turf types in the 1 ½-mile affair.

The Pan American is one of four turf stakes on the Florida Derby (G1) undercard.

Conditioned by Tom Albertrani, Sadler’s Joy posted a head score in last year’s Pan American and recorded his biggest career win when taking the Sword Dancer (G1) on the Travers (G1) undercard. The chestnut has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite with regular rider Julien Leparoux.

Canadian International (G1) winner Bullards Alley didn’t run poorly when sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) (Sadler’s Joy was fourth) and just missed in his last two appearances as the favorite, recording a head second in the H. Allen Jerkens S. in late December and a half-length third in the W.L. McKnight (G3) a month later. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount on the Tim Glyshaw-trained gelding.

A rallying third in the February 10 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1), Hi Happy merits respect in his second start for Todd Pletcher. Luis Saez has the call. Bigger Picture, an upset winner of the United Nations (G1) last summer, is also in with a chance following a victory in the James B. Connally (G3) on January 28. Jose Ortiz will be up for Mike Maker.

The $250,000 Honey Fox (G3) takes place a couple of races earlier and features 10 turf distaffers at a mile. On Leave exits a narrow triumph in the December 16 My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream and the 5-year-old mare is seeking seek her third stakes win from the last four starts. Irad Ortiz will pilot for Shug McGaughey.

Grade 3 winner Lull, last seen finishing fifth in the Matriarch (G1) in late November, returns for Christophe Clement and gets a new rider in Jose Ortiz. Stormy Victoria and Team of Teams are exiting stakes wins on the Gulfstream Park, with Stormy Victoria taking the South Beach for Clement and Team of Teams recording a wire-to-wire upset in the Sand Spring for Jimmy Jerkens.

The turf stakes action begins with the $150,000 Cutler Bay, a one-mile test for 3-year-olds. Dania Beach (G3) winner Speed Franco, a neck second most recently in the Palm Beach (G3), rates as the prohibitive 6-5 early choice among six runners. Texas Glitter conqueror Salmanazar and Palm Beach third-placer Therapist are also entered.

Sophomore turf fillies take their turn in the spotlight in the $150,000 Sanibel Island and Best Performance will make her first appearance since a fast-closing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Her challengers in the eight-horse field include Herecomesthebride (G3) runner-up Amertume and last-out maiden scorer Figarella’s Queen.