Multiple graded stakes-placed Never Surprised will shock absolutely no one if the Todd Pletcher trainee is victorious in Sunday’s $100,000 Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, will co-headline Sunday’s day-after-Christmas program with the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Mike Repole’s Never Surprised enters Sunday’s co-feature off a dominating 6 ¼-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Gio Ponti over the turf at Aqueduct Nov. 26. In his three prior starts, the son of Constitution was graded stakes-placed, finishing second in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream before settling for runner-up honors behind Public Sector in the Saranac (G3) at Saratoga and Hill Prince (G2) at Belmont.
“I was very pleased with his last race and he’s trained enthusiastically for this race,” Pletcher said.
Luis Saez has the call aboard Never Surprised, who tops a full field of 12 3-year-olds (plus three also-eligible entries).
Never Surprised Wins Gio Ponti
WellSpring Stables’ Safe Conduct, who finished second in the Gio Ponti, is scheduled to take on Never Surprised again in the Tropical Park Derby. The Phil Serpe-trained son of Bodemeister captured the $1 million Queen’s Plate over Woodbine’s Tapeta surface three starts back before finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Stakes, the second leg of Canada’s Triple Crown run over a yielding turf at Woodbine, and rebounding with a solid Gio Ponti effort.
Paco Lopez is slated to ride Safe Conduct for the first time Sunday.
Stuart Janney III’s Scarlett Sky brings graded-stakes credentials into the Tropical Park Derby, having captured the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland in the spring. The son of Sky Mesa, who lost the Palm Beach by a head last season at Gulfstream, finished off the board in a Keeneland stakes over a soft turf last time while coming off a five-month layoff.
Trainer Shug McGaughey has awarded the mount to fellow Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Edge Racing’s Yes This Time is also a Grade 3 stakes winner in Sunday’s field. The Kelly Breen-trained son of Not This Time captured the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park last July, capping a five-race winning streak, including four straight wins at Gulfstream.
Gaffalione Aboard Yes This Time
Tyler Gaffalione has the mount aboard Yes This time, who is coming off in-the-money finishes in Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs and Bryan Station at Keeneland.
Victoria’s Ranch’s King of Dreams and Lea Farms LLC’s Fighting Force will enter the Tropical Park Derby, off a 1-2 finish, respectively, in the Showing Up over Gulfstream’s Tapeta course.
ABL Stable, Dominic Bossone, Peter Donnelly and William Oberdorff’s Mohs and Calumet Farm’s Grey Streak, who finished 1-2, respectively, in the Hawthorne Derby, will clash again Sunday. Calumet will also be represented by Jack Sisterson-trained In Effect in Sunday’s field.
Gelfenstein Farm LLC’s Siglioso and Melvin Simonovich’s Lamplighter Jack and Palm Beach Racing Partnership’s Hot Blooded round out the main body of the field.
Michael Dubb and Madaket Stables LLC’s Kygo, Deuce Greathouse’s Shady McGee, and Irving Cowan’s American Prince are also-eligible entrants.
Tobys Heart Headlines Tropical Park Oaks
Already a multiple-stakes winner with more than $500,000 in earnings, Terry Hamilton and trainer Brian Lynch’s Tobys Heart will be on a quest to add a significant achievement to her resume in Sunday’s $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks.
The Tropical Park Oaks, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, will co-headline Sunday’s day-after-Christmas program at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.
Tobys Heart has won stakes at Saratoga, Belmont Park and Kentucky Downs but has yet to win a stakes around two turns. The daughter of Jack Milton’s quest for two-turn success doesn’t figure to be an easy one with the likes of undefeated Lady Speightspeare among the eight fillies entered in the Tropical Park Oaks.
“It would be nice seeing her win around two turns. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Sunday,” Lynch said. “This is a good time, because it’s the last chance to win against her age group.”
Tobys Heart finished third at Saratoga in the Lake George (G3) and second in the Tepin at Churchill Downs, both at a mile. Back around one turn, the Kentucky-bred filly drew off by 2 ¾ lengths to win the $500,000 Music City Stakes at Kentucky Downs Sept. 12.
In her most recent outing, Tobys Heart finished fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Valley View (G3) over a yielding course at Keeneland.
“She was down on the inside and took the worst of it. I thought she ran really well. She got beat a neck for second and the winner loves the soft going and won well,” Lynch said.
Valley View Replay
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who was aboard at Saratoga, has the call.
Charles Fipke’s Lady Speightspeare looms as a short-priced favorite in the Tropical Park Oaks off victories her flawless record in four starts at Woodbine, including victories in the Natalma (G1) at a mile on turf and the Bessarabian at 1 1/16 miles on Tapeta.
Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has been aboard the home-bred daughter of Speightstown in all of her starts, has the return call.
Trainer Mark Casse will be represented by a pair of fillies, Live Oak Plantations’ Inthewinnerscircle and SBH Racing Inc.’s Mademoiselle Nova, who finished 1-2, respectively, in the 1 1/16 Cellars Shiraz over Gulfstream’s Tapeta course Nov. 5.
Luis Saez has the call on Inthewinnerscircle, also a stakes winner on turf. Edwin Gonzalez has the mount on Mademoiselle Nova, who won back-to-back optional claiming allowance victories on turf at Woodbine before losing by a neck to her stablemate in the Cellars Shiraz.
Fergus Galvin, R. A. Hill Stable, Black Type Thoroughbreds, John Arenson and Alan Lefevre’s Breaker of Chains, is set for her third start in the U.S. since being imported from Ireland. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Bernardini broke her maiden in her U.S. debut at Kentucky Downs before finishing sixth in the Valley View (G3) over a yielding Keeneland turf course.
Tyler Gaffalione has the return mount aboard the Jimmy Toner-trained filly.
R. A. Hill Stable and Brereton Jones’ Stunning Princess, who captured an optional claiming allowance Dec. 3 at Gulfstream; Dede McGehee’s Gladys, a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra; Fortune Racing LLC’s Bipartisanship, a British-bred filly who broke her maiden at Laurel two starts back; and Burning Daylight Farms Inc.’s Dream About Me, coming off a maiden score at Monmouth and an optional claiming allowance at Delaware Park; round out the field.