HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Leonard C. Green’s A Threat of Blue will be on a quest to maintain a perfect record over the Gulfstream Park turf course in Saturday’s $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds, one of six stakes on an 11-race program.
The son of Hard Spun was undefeated in three starts during the 2018-2019 Championship Meet. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt won an optional claiming allowance by 2 ¾ lengths before capturing the Dania Beach by 3 ½ lengths and the Palm Beach (G3) by three-quarters of a length.
The Tropical Park Derby could well prove to be a prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Jan. 25.
“We were going to Del Mar for the [Nov. 30] Hollywood Derby, but with all the weather and flight issues, we changed up,” McLaughlin said. “We were looking at the Pegasus, then we decided to run here. We still could go to the Pegasus. We’ll see.
“It was either this race or others here and there. Doing this we might be able to do both, because it’s back in four weeks,” he added.
McLaughlin-trained Lucullan, a graded-stakes winner owned by Godolphin LLC, is also a prospect for the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf, in which all participants will run medication-free.
“I think it’s a good thing,” McLaughlin said. “I commend them for doing the changes.”
A Thread of Blue, who will be ridden by Luis Saez, has been installed as morning-line favorite at 7-2, a price that likely would have been lower had he not drawn the No. 14 post position.
Harrell Ventures LLC’s Halladay, who is coming off a pair of third-place finishes in New York stakes, and Calumet Farm’s English Bee, who won the Virginia Derby (G3) at Colonial Downs and the Parx Fall Derby in his last two starts, were rated second and third in the morning line at 9-2 and 6-1, respectively. Halladay (No. 12) and English Bee (No. 11) also drew outside post positions. John Velazquez has the call on Halladay, while Chris Landeros is scheduled to ride English Bee.
Patricia Generazio’s Timmy M. drew the No. 1 post position for a quest to win his first stakes race. The homebred son of Morning Line has placed three times in stakes, including a runner-up finish in the Sept. 21 Bear’s Den, in which he recovered from a bumping incident entering the stretch.
“He belongs and it’s the last 3-year-old race of the year,” trainer Joe Orseno said. “He’s pretty honest. He’s had some rough trips. That’s his biggest problem. He’s been beaten by bad luck.”
Paco Lopez has the mount aboard Timmy M.
Arindel’s Scraps, a homebred son of of Brethren who defeated Timmy M. in the Bear’s Den, enters the Tropical Park Derby off a fast closing victory in an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream. Jairo Rendon has the return mount.
Monarch Stables Inc.’s Art G Is Back is a multiple stakes winner who will seek his first stakes victory on turf. The son of Exchange Rate, who finished fourth behind A Thread of Blue in the Palm Beach, has been second or third in four of his six turf starts, including a second-place finish in the English Channel, in which he lost by a nose.
“I think he’s a little better on dirt, but he’s been close on turf,” trainer Ron Spatz said. “It’s the last race for 3-year-olds, so why not?”
Rajiv Maragh is scheduled to ride Art G Is Back for the first time Saturday.
Paradise Farms Corp. and Mad Dog Racing’s Temple and Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Kadar who finished first and second, a nose apart, respectively, ahead of Halladay in the Nov. 29 Gio Ponti at Aqueduct, will return to action in the Tropical Park Derby. Both horses are trained by Michael Maker, who also entered Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Faraway Kitten in the Tropical Park Derby.
Temple, who was claimed for $25,000 at Gulfstream in July before winning the $600,000 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs, will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Kadir, a 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy who started his career in England before arriving in the U.S. this year, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Tyler Gaffalione has the mount aboard Faraway Kitten, who captured the Arlington Derby (G3) in July.
Forever Mo, Stirling Drive, Notorious Nick, Jais’s Solitude and Armistice Day round out the field.