HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – In another year, the Triple Crown wouldn’t likely have been on trainer Mark Hennig’s radar for Americanus, a late-developing son of War Front yet to distinguish himself in stakes competition.
With the Kentucky Derby (G1) being moved from May 2 to Sept. 5 and the dates for the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) up in the air, Americanus now has time to prove that he’s Triple Crown material.
Courtlandt Farms’ colt can take a significant step toward fulfilling his considerable promise Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $75,000 Unbridled, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
“He’s been doing great. We’ve been able to afford him the time and good spacing going into this,” Hennig said. “I’m happy Gulfstream added this race and is giving us the opportunity to stretch out.”
Americanus, a $345,000 purchase at the 2019 OBS April sale, is coming off an impressive victory in a Feb. 22 first-level optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park. He rated off the pace in the seven-furlong race for sophomores before making a strong inside run to prevail by a length. It was his second victory in four career starts.
The Hennig trainee debuted with an off-the-pace victory over next-out winner Toledo at Belmont in a six-furlong maiden special weight race in September.
“He’s kind of a laidback horse. He wasn’t the kind going over there that you’re thinking he’s a speedball and he’s going to run them off their feet first time out,” Hennig said. “But he had a lot of class. He has such a good mind, he just lay off of it and took everything in stride. I wasn’t totally surprised.”
Five weeks later, Americanus faded to eighth in the mile Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct.
“We felt he displaced in that race. We did a myectomy on him. It seems to have corrected things,” Hennig said. “We put a tongue-tie on and haven’t had any issues since.”
Edgard Zayas has the call on Americanus, who finished second in his 3-year-old debut Jan. 15 prior to his Feb. 22 score.
St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post is scheduled to make a jump from maiden company to stakes competition Saturday while returning to action off a sharp off-the-pace victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park March 29.
“He’s had two very strong breezes since then. With limited options, we had considered taking him to Oaklawn for an allowance race but staying at home was an option when this race came up,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “In light of how well he’s been training, we decided to go ahead and step up in class a little bit and see where we are.”
The son of Quality Road, who was purchased for $400,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale, was making his first start since finishing fourth in his July 4 debut at Belmont Park.
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call on Dr Post on his first day of action since March 19.
“I thought it was an impressive performance. It was a fast time and came back strong figure-wise,” Pletcher said. “What I liked is the way he finished. He’s a horse we always thought would improve stretching-out, so for him to be able to run that well going a distance that’s probably not his best was impressive.”
Both Americanus and Dr Post will concede graded-stakes experience to Attachment Rate Saturday. Jim Bakke and Gary Isbister’s Attachment Rate is coming off a third-place finish in the March 7 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
The son of Hard Spun, who finished two lengths behind victorious Mischevious Alex in the mile Gotham, was being pointed to the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) before Keeneland’s spring meet was cancelled.
Trained by Dale Romans, Attachment Rate finished off the board in his career debut at Churchill Downs last fall before returning to finish a fast-closing second going seven furlongs Jan. 25 and graduating by 4 ¼ lengths going a mile at Gulfstream Feb. 15.
Luis Saez has the return call aboard Attachment Rate.
Trainer Stanley Hough entered both Necker Island and South Bend in the Unbridled with the intention to start only one and running the other in next weekend’s English Channel, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.
“I’ll probably run Necker Island on the dirt and South Bend on the grass,” Hough said. “But I did want to try Necker Island on the grass also and I did want to try South Bend back on the dirt.”
Necker Island, who is owned by Hough and Sagamore Farm LLC, closed out his 2-year-old season with a maiden victory at seven furlongs and an optional claiming allowance win at a mile around one turn at Churchill Downs. The son of Hard Spun finished fifth in the seven-furlong Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Feb. 1 and fifth in the Gotham (G2) at Aqueduct in his two starts this year. Both races were won by Mischevious Alex.
“Going seven-eighths, the speed got away. There wasn’t anything he could do about it. I think a mile and a sixteenth will be better at Gulfstream,” Hough said. “He came back against the same horse going a mile, but again I think the two turns will be better for him.”
Sagamore Farm LLC’s South Bend, who launched his career with three straight wins on dirt, including a triumph in the mile Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs last year, has been stakes-placed in three races over Gulfstream’s turf course this year. The son of Algorithms finished third in the Palm Beach (G3).
“I think the mile and a sixteenth will help him, too,” Hough said. “If I should run him, then I’ll probably run Necker Island next week on the grass.”
Dylan Davis has the call on Necker Island, while Rajiv Maragh has been named on South Bend.
Relentless Dancer, who finished fourth in both the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream and fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his last two starts, is scheduled to return in the Unbridled. Trained by Michael Maker for Paradise Farms Corp., Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner, Relentless Dancer previously broke his maiden at six furlongs at Churchill Downs and romped in a Louisiana-bred stakes at Delta Downs at seven furlongs around two turns.
Chris Landeros has the mount aboard Relentless Dancer.
Soros, who won the mile Smooth Air at Gulfstream Nov. 30 before finishing fifth in an optional claiming allowance off a three-month layoff, is scheduled to return in the Unbridled for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Gustavo Delgado.
Emisael Jaramillo is named on Soros.
Gulfstream Press Release Photo: Courtlandt Farms’ Americanus breaking his maiden at Belmont Park. Credit: NYRA