Loco Abarrio Brings Tough-Guy Attitude Into Big Drama

May 24, 2024

Loco Abarrio takes an allowance Dec. 24, 2023, at Gulfstream Park (Coglianese)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Mad Dog Racing Stable and Joseph Parker’s Loco Abarrio has been such a model of consistency during his racing career, one might assume that the son of Valiant Minister has been an easy horse to train.

“There’s nothing easy about him. He’s not an easy horse to be around. He’s a tough guy. He always wants to train hard in the morning,” trainer Ron Spatz said. “I don’t care about that stuff. As long as he brings his game in the afternoon, we’re fine.”

Loco Abarrio’s tough-guy attitude has served him well in the afternoon. The Florida-bred 4-year-old gelding enters Saturday’s $100,000 Big Drama Handicap at Gulfstream Park having finished in the money in 13 of 16 career starts, including five victories and six runner-up finishes. The Spatz trainee may be a challenge in the morning, but he certainly brings it in the afternoon.

“Most times. He didn’t like the Tapeta two starts back, but he came right back and ran good, so we’re good,” Spatz said. “We’re going into the race in good faith. We kind of went on pause with him for a minute waiting to see what we were going to do with him. We decided to carry on and stay here and wait for this race.”

The Big Drama, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, will co-headline Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream with the $95,000 Mr. Steele, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up.

Loco Abarrio is coming into the Big Drama off a third-place finish in the Feb. 24 Gulfstream Park Sprint, a six-furlong dash in which he encountered bumping and a wide trip. Saturday, he will break from Post 2 while taking on six rivals.

“I like him at the distance. I’m not crazy about his post position. It’s something we have to overcome. Most of his best races haven’t come with him pinned down inside, but I think he has a good chance with a good break,” Spatz said. “The horse to beat is Octane, with the company he’s kept.”

Edwin Gonzalez has the return mount aboard Loco Abarrio, who is rated second at 5-2 on the morning line behind Arindel’s Octane, the 7-5 favorite who captured the 1 1/16-mile Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 24 at Oaklawn Park. Octane has been assigned 124 pounds, four more than Loco Abarrio.

Juan Alvarado-trained Octane, a 5-year-old gelding, has earned more than $1 million while winning eight of 19 career starts. Although he excels around two turns, the son of Brethren has won two of five starts at seven furlongs.

Emisael Jaramillo, who was victorious aboard Octane the last time he rode him last year, has the call on Octane, who will seek to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the April 20 Oaklawn Park Handicap (G2).

Chester Bishop, Anthony Hinkson, Alvin Rampaul, Patrick Biggs, and Donovan Stanford’s Shaq Diesel has performed at his best at seven furlongs, having won four of nine starts at the distance, including a win in the FTBOA Marion Country Florida Sire Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 9 and a last-out optional claiming allowance score at Gulfstream.

Miguel Vasquez has the return mount on the 4-year-old son of Khozan, who finished off the board in the 2023 Curlin Florida Derby (G1).

Trainer Amador Sanchez will be represented in the Big Drama by Paola Stable and Vendaval Inc.’s Mbagnick and Viejo Perro Stable Corp.’s Vivir Con Alegria. Mbagnick, a Group 1 winner in Chile, will cut back to one turn after finishing seventh in the March 30 Ghostzapper (G3) at Gulfstream and third in the March 9 Challenger (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs at 1 1/16 miles. Vivir Con Alegria will enter the Big Drama in search of his first victory in nine starts in the U.S. A four-time winner in Chile, the 6-year-old son of Scat Daddy sired Flyer is likely to be a strong pace factor. In the U.S., the Amador Sanchez trainee has finished second four times and finished a close fourth in the seven-furlong Sir Shackleton March 30.

Marcos Meneses is named on Mbagnick and Edgar Perez has the call on Vivir Con Alegria.

Leon Ellman, Glassman Racing LLC, and Laurie Plesa’s Ticking and Mark Kornegay’s Collaborate round out the field.

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