Trainer Patrick Byrne will be looking to ring in 2014 with Almost Famous in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby in the one-mile New Year's Day feature. Owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, the son of Unbridled's Song stamped himself as a colt with a future in winning two of his three starts this fall, including a six-length success under optional-claiming conditions at Churchill Downs on November 9.
The dark bay colt was entered in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) under the Twin Spires three weeks later, but was an 11th-hour scratch out of that event with a bruised hind hoof.
Almost Famous, a $500,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton sale last March, got back on the work tab with a four-furlong breeze in :48 2/5 seconds at Palm Meadows on December 18.
“He put in a nice work,” Byrne said. “I lost a couple of days with him when I had to scratch out of the Jockey Club in Kentucky, but he's back and his foot is good.
“The Gulfstream Park Derby is a good spot for him,” Byrne added. “It wasn't originally in my plans, but he's acting like he wants to run and he's doing well.”
Byrne, who became a household name in the late nineties with Breeders' Cup winners Awesome Again, Countess Diana and Favorite Trick, won the 2012 Florida Derby (G1) for the Sandfords with Take Charge Indy. That $1-million event could be on the radar for Almost Famous as well.
“We'll take it one race at a time, but obviously the Florida Derby would be a nice target, and we'll go from there,” Byrne remarked. “Gulfstream is always a tough meeting.”
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