Sibelius Pointing to Return & Repeat in Mr. Prospector (G3)

December 7, 2023

Sibelius winning the 2022 Mr. Prospector/ (Nicole Thomas)

• Defending Champ Value Engineering Tops 20 Jerkens Nominees
• Gulfstream Bookkeeper Begins Accepting ACH Enrollment

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jun Park and Delia Nash’s Sibelius, who capped a three-race win streak in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in March, is being pointed to a return to where it all began in the $125,000 Mr. Prospector (G3) Dec. 23 at Gulfstream Park.

“That’s the target right now,” trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said of the 5-year-old Sibelius, who has posted four timed works since mid-November on the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

In his most recent, Sibelius went five furlongs in 1:01.90 Dec. 3, second-fastest of six horses on the day.

“We brought him back down here a couple months back, six weeks anyway, gave him a bit of a freshening and put him back on the work tab,” O’Dwyer said. “I’m pretty happy with him. He’s doing well. He’s been breezing away and we’re going to aim him for the Mr. Prospector.”

Sibelius, a gelded son of Not This Time, became a stakes winner last fall in the Lite the Fuse at Pimlico Race Course, then ran fourth in the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland and second in the Bet on Sunshine at Churchill Downs before his 2 ¼-length triumph in the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector over subsequent Grade 3 winner Dean Delivers.

“He kind of announced himself in the race last year and then he kept peaking after that, that’s for sure,” O’Dwyer said. “We’re hoping we can do the same. Like any horse, you’re learning from him as much as they’re learning from you. If we can get him to peak at the right time again, we’ll be more than happy.”

Sibelius kicked off 2023 with a stakes-record victory in the Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs before heading overseas for the Golden Shaheen. Sibelius and jockey Ryan Moore rallied up the rail to move past leaders Hopkins and Gunite in the stretch and hold off defending champion Switzerland to win by a nose. It was the third graded win for O’Dwyer, who also won the 2019 Remsen (G2) with Shotski.

Since the Golden Shaheen Sibelius has raced three times, finishing fourth in the June 30 Aristides, seventh in the July 29 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar and fifth in his return to the Phoenix Oct. 6, where he was beaten six lengths by subsequent Cigar Mile (G2) winner Hoist the Gold.

“He’s a very straightforward horse,” O’Dwyer said. “We’re going to try to repeat what we did last year by going to the Mr. Prospector and then probably to Tampa and then hopefully back to Dubai, where he flourished. Those are the three spots we have picked out right now.”

Defending Champ Value Engineering Tops 20 Jerkens Nominees

Defending champion Value Engineering, Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy and fellow stakes winners Brooklyn Strong, McLovin, Serifos and The Skipper Too are among 20 nominees to the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens Handicap Saturday, Dec. 16 at Gulfstream Park.

The 10th running of the Jerkens for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for two miles on Gulfstream’s new turf course honors the late Hall of Fame horsemen known as ‘The Chief,’ who engineered some of Thoroughbred racing’s biggest upsets and wintered at Gulfstream up to his passing at age 85 in March 2015.

Michael Hui and Phil Forte’s Value Engineering was a 1 ¼-length winner of last year’s Jerkens, which was rained onto the all-weather Tapeta course and contested at 1 5/8 miles. The 7-year-old gelding went on to run second in the 1 ½-mile W. L. McKnight (G3) and win the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida (G2) on the Gulfstream grass and has raced once since mid-May.

Value Engineering is one of six horses nominated by trainer Mike Maker, who also won the Jerkens in 2016 and 2017. Among them are Henley’s Joy, winner of the 2019 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Gulfstream’s 2018 Pulpit; Malthael, 14-for-31 in the money lifetime that ran sixth in last year’s Jerkens; and Shawdyshawdyshawdy, third in the 2021 Pennine Ridge (G3).

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has won four editions of the Jerkens, including the inaugural 2015 running with Unitarian. He nominated Six Minus, a gelded 5-year-old son of turf champion English Channel owned by himself, his father, J.J. Pletcher and Mike Repole. Six Minus has earned all three of his career wins at Gulfstream and most recently was fourth as the favorite by less than a length in a 1 1/16-mile starter-optional claimer Nov. 12 on the Tapeta.

McLovin and Serifos are both stakes winners this year. Team Valor International’s McLovin captured the two-mile John Forbes Memorial on a yielding Far Hills turf course Oct. 21 in his most recent start, while Wertheimer and Frere homebred Serifos registered a popular 3 ¼-length triumph in the off-the-turf Presious Passion going 1 ½ miles Sept. 10 at Monmouth Park.

Arindel homebred The Skipper Too won the 1 1/16-mile William Kaplan Memorial Handicap July 2 and has yet to race on turf. Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong won the Remsen (G2) and Sleepy Hollow on dirt as a 2-year-old and most recently was fourth by three lengths in a one-mile, 70-yard claimer Nov. 10 on Gulfstream’s Tapeta.

Gulfstream Bookkeeper Begins Accepting ACH Enrollment

The Gulfstream Park Horsemen Bookkeeper’s office will begin accepting ACH enrollment into the new payment program Friday, Dec. 9.

Allowing ACH payments will expedite payment time, reduce paperwork. the likelihood of fraud and improve the overall customer service experience of horsemen.

Anyone looking to sign up for this feature can pick up and complete ACH forms located within the bookkeeper’s office during normal operating hours.

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