HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Magic Stables LLC’s Papetu, who stepped off the Triple Crown trail after a subpar showing in the March 27 Curlin Florida Derby (G1), is set for a return to action in Saturday’s $75,000 Carry Back at Gulfstream Park.
The Carry Back, a seven-furlong sprint that drew a strong field of nine 3-year-olds, will headline a 13-race program that will also feature the $60,000 Hallandale Beach, a seven-furlong overnight handicap for 3-year-old fillies.
Papetu showed Triple Crown promise during the Championship Meet, recovering from a hard bump at the start to finish second in the Mucho Macho Man before going on to finish fourth in the Holy Bull (G3) and third in the Fountain of Youth (G2). The son of Dialed In’s performance in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth was particularly impressive, finishing 3 ½ lengths behind Greatest Honour after breaking from the extreme outside post position and making an impressive four-wide sweep into the contention at the top of the stretch.
Papetu was again saddled with the far-outside post position in the 11-horse Florida Derby, in which he finished seventh after racing four and five-wide throughout the 1 1/8 miles.
“We gave him some time after the Florida Derby to rest,” trainer Antonio Sano said. “He’s feeling good now.”
Papetu showed ability right from the start of his career, breaking his maiden at first asking by five lengths at Gulfstream in June 2020. He came right back to capture an optional claiming allowance in his next start. After finishing sixth in the Saratoga Special (G2), a race won by the Sano-trained Gunnevera in 2016, and fifth in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, Papetu was given a break to prepare for a 3-year-old campaign.
Papetu will again break from the far-outside post position for the Carry Back, but the draw is hardly the handicap his outside posts were going two turns in his last two starts,
“Papetu is doing very good. I’d say he’s 90 percent,” Sano said. “We’re very happy with him.”
Leonel Reyes, who rode him in the Mucho Macho Man and Holy Bull as well as his first two career victories, returns to the saddle.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is represented by four entrants in the Carry Back: Sonata Stable’s Moonlite Strike, Stefania Farm LLC, Magic Cap Stables’ Twelve Volt Man, and John Fanelli, Cash is King LLC and LC Racing LLC’s Awesome Gerry.
Moonlite Strike and Lauda Speed finished 1-2, respectively, in the May 15 Roar, in which the former prevailed over the former by 3 ½ lengths in the 6 ½-furlong stakes. The winner was returning to one-turn competition after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and sixth I the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.
Moonlite Strike broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park West and won an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream around one turn to conclude his 2-year-old campaign.
“I think the cut back in trip definitely helps him. We’ve been pointing for this race after that last race,” Joseph said.
In the Roar, Lauda Speed finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Collaborate, a highly regarded stablemate in the Joseph stable who came back to win impressively. Lauda Speed, a son of Bayern, had previously finished third in the March 6 Hutcheson and won an April optional claiming allowance.
“He and Twelve Volt were going to run three weeks ago in a mile handicap that never filled. That’s basically why they’re here now,” Joseph said. “Lauda Speed deserves a chance. He’s consistent and always tries hard. I think he’s going to run his race again.”
Twelve Volt Man is undefeated in two career starts, a six-furlong maiden special weight race April 10 and a mile optional claiming allowance. The son of Violence has closed from off the pace in both starts at Gulfstream.
“He ran and 83 Beyer [speed figure] in his last race which fits very well in this race,” Joseph said. “This is going to be a much tougher race for him. This will give us an indication how he stacks up.”
Awesome Gerry, who finished third in the Fountain of Youth and off the board in the Tampa Bay Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks, is slated to make his first start since finishing third in an optional claiming allowance at Churchill Downs in May.
“We had him all about this year trying to pick up Derby points. I don’t think he wants to go two turns. It was a bit ambitious,” Joseph said. “I thought the cutback at Churchill helped him and it was one of his better races.”
Edgard Zayas has the return mount aboard Moonlite Strike; Emisael Jaramillo is back on Lauda Speed; Chantal Sutherland is scheduled to ride Twelve Volt Man for the first time; and J.C. Diaz Jr. has the call on Awesome Gerry.
Trainer Kathy Ritvo is slated to saddle a pair of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing 3-year-olds for the Carry Back: Isolate, who is scheduled to make his 2021 debut after showing considerable promise as a 2-year-old; and Raison d’Air, a versatile gelding who switches to the main track Saturday after finishing fifth in the English Channel and winning an optional claiming allowance on turf.
Isolate hasn’t started since finishing third in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct in November. The son of Mark Valeski had previously won his first two career starts at Gulfstream, most notably a 10-length optional claiming allowance romp at six-furlongs.
Luca Panici has the call on Isolate, while Cristian Torres has been named on Raison d’Air.
Bell Racing LLC’s Real Talk, who finished second behind Lauda Speed before capturing a six-furlong optional claiming allowance last time out; and Alex and JoAnn Liebling’s Big Thorn, who is slated to make his first start since finishing a distant third in the Jan. 22 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park, round out the field.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Papetu (Lauren King)