Trainer Ralph Nicks celebrated his torrid start for the 2019-2020 Championship Meet in the Gulfstream Park winner's circle following the first two races on Saturday's program.
Nicks saddled the winners of the early Daily Double – both 2-year-old first-time starters sired by Khozan. The Daily Double sweep gave the 52-year-old Avery, Texas native four wins (and two runner-up finishes) from his last six starters. Stonehedge LLC's Just a Bit Sassy scored by 3 ½ lengths under Tyler Gaffalione in Race 1, a mile turf race for maiden $25,000 claimers. Brent Fernung and Michael Sebastian's Untitled rolled to an eye-catching 11-length victory under Emisael Jaramillo in Race 2, a six-furlong maiden special weight race run over the main track.
“My numbers aren't that huge, so there's going to be a little slow-down. But we've got a solid group of useful horses across the board. I think it will be a good winter,” Nicks said. “We have 38 back there, so it's not going to be the starts we've had in the past, but quality-wise – with Shivaree, this horse, Liam's Lucky Charm, Positively Awesome coming back either this week or the next week – there are some nice horses in the barn.”
Shivaree, Liam's Lucky Charm and Positively Awesome are all 2-year-old stakes winners.
Just a Bit Sassy ($7.20) was claimed out of his debut victory by Mary Eppler, but Nicks has high hopes for Untitled, who ran six-furlongs in 1:10.17 after breaking from the rail post position.
“It didn't surprise me, but I didn't like the 1 hole. He got left a little bit – I don't know if he stumbled a little or what – but he's never been that quick out of there. I didn't know what was going to happen,” Nicks said. “From the middle of the race on, he's trained that way.”
After breaking sixth, Untitled quickly took Jaramillo to the front and never looked back, striding out to the wire to finish off his impressive debut.
“He looks like a two-turn horse. He's built like it and looks like it. Time will tell,” said Nicks, who has saddled six winners from 19 starters to kick off the meet.
Untitled's victory added to an already successful first-crop by Khozan, a Distorted Humor-sired half-brother to multiple champion Delta Princess standing in Florida.
“I like him. I've had a lot of success with him this year,” said Nicks, who saddled Khozan-sired Liam's Lucky Charm for a victory in the $200,000 Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed Division in September. “Hopefully, there'll be more to come.”
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