Ironstone To Make First U.S. Start in Gulfstream Park Sprint

February 22, 2024

Ironstone a solid winner of the Ontario Derby (G3) Oct. 23, 2022, at Woodbine (Michael Burns)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Tequesta Racing Inc. and Jupiter Leasing Co.’s Ironstone, winner of the 2022 Ontario Derby (G3) going long on synthetics, is set to make a return to the dirt in the $125,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Saturday, his U.S. debut.

Bred in Ontario, Ironstone has raced exclusively in Canada through 17 starts, 15 of them on Woodbine’s Tapeta course and once on the grass for previous trainer W. V. Armata. The son of Mr Speaker has worked five times since mid-January at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

“He came to me and was a very worked-up horse,” trainer Renico Lafond said. “I ride him myself so I tried to get him to reset a little bit and relax and settle down. His back end was a little weak at that time, so we worked on that a lot jogging and things like that.

“I worked him a few times myself and he was working really well,” he added. “He’s progressed very, very well. He’s moving properly, his endurance is fantastic and he’s doing very well.”

Ironstone has raced once on dirt, finishing second by less than a length as the favorite in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, the second leg of Canada’s Triple Crown. He won the Ontario Derby going 1 1/8 miles and was third by a half-length in a 1 ¼-mile optional claiming allowance before being cut back to sprints last year.

“When he came down here I wasn’t sure how he was going to handle the track at Palm Meadows, but he’s handled it pretty well,” Lafond said. “Palm Meadows is more sand-based so it’s a little different surface, but he took to it very well and led us to believe he has a shot in this race.”

Ironstone drew Post 4 in a field of 10 for the Gulfstream Park Sprint and will be ridden for the first time by Miguel Vasquez. Most recently he breezed five furlongs in 1:02.10 Feb. 17, ranking third of 10 horses.

“He’s trained fantastic, he works phenomenal. His last work was very, very impressive, so I’m pretty confident in him. I think Miguel Vasquez will suit his running style and hopefully it all works out,” Lafond said.

“He has a lot of class to him. It’ll be good to see how he runs against this kind of company,” he added. “I have a good feeling. I’m pretty confident in him. He’s been training fantastic. We’ve been very patient with him so, so far, so good. Fingers crossed.”

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