The stars of Latin America and the Caribbean – including Puerto Rico Triple Crown winner Justiciero, the Dominican Republic's five-time Group 1 winner Inmenso, Panama's Coronal Nacional (G2) winner Fray Angelico and Mexico's Group 1-winning filly Jala Jala – will be part of history Saturday when they line up in the starting gate for the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe presented by Fasig-Tipton at Gulfstream Park.
The Clasico del Caribe, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds, will be one of five races contested on Gulfstream's 11-race program that make up the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, the premier Thoroughbred event in Latin America and the Caribbean. Gulfstream will become the first pari-mutuel facility outside of Latin America and the Caribbean to hold the Clasico Internacional del Caribe since its inception in 1966.
First race post is 11:50 a.m. The Clasico del Caribe will go to post at approximately 4:55 p.m.
Horses, trainers, grooms and jockeys from six countries have come to Gulfstream to participate in the Clasico Internacional del Caribe as well as owners, breeders, fans and members of The Confederation of Caribbean Racetracks, who in July unanimously approved holding the event at Gulfstream.
Horses and horsemen from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela began arriving at Gulfstream a month ago to prepare for Saturday's Clasico races, which will be contested as the last five on Gulfstream's Saturday program.
Venezuela's El Cubita was made a tepid 3-1 favorite over Puerto Rico's Justiciero (7-2), Panama's Fray Angelico (9-2) and the Dominican Republic's Inmenso (12-1).
“It's an incredible and historic event for Thoroughbred racing,” said Gulfstream's General Manager Bill Badgett. “It will be a great day of racing and entertainment. After six 2-year-old stakes for horses based in North America, we will feature the Clasico Internacional del Caribe in a truly spectacular way.”
Jockey Emisael Jaramillo, a native of Venezuela now riding at Gulfstream who has won the Clasico del Caribe a record five times, explains the Clasico Internacional del Caribe as “very emotional.”
“The race is very important to our country and everyone from the country is watching,” he said. “To win the race….it's something that's unexplainable. The feeling is unbelievable.”
Puerto Rico's legendary jockey Juan Carlos Diaz echoed Jaramillo's sentiments. “This is a very important race for us, and the fact Miami and international fans will be able to see it, showing at all the simulcast places, will be very exciting. It will be an interesting experience and very competitive.”
Justiciero is a stretch-running son of Kentucky-bred Coach Billy G., a winner of two of 10 starts in Florida, Kentucky and New York from 2009-2011 before being purchased by Haras Nortena Farm in Puerto Rico as a sire for $4,500. Justiciero was purchased by Marc Tacher for $15,000 as a yearling. The colt has won eight of 13 starts for trainer Raymon Morales and will be one of the favorites come post time. Diaz will ride, seeking his first Clasico del Caribe win.
“He is doing well, and I think I have a great chance to do well with a little luck,” Diaz said.
Justiciero won't have it easy in the Clasico. Inmenso ships from the Dominican Republic on a nine-race win streak and will attempt to become the second Clasico winner from the Dominican. Joel Rosario will ride.
Panama, which leads all countries in Clasico victories with 15, will be represented by two starters – Fray Angelico, and Gatillo. Fray Angelico, whose dam Angelical won the Clasico in 1996, enters the race off a victory in the Coronal Nacional. The son of Concerto, trained by Alberto Paz Rodriguez, has won four of six lifetime starts.
Jaramillo will seek his sixth Clasico del Caribe with El Cubita, a lightly-raced son of 2008 Jersey Derby winner Mr Maccool whose lone win came in his debut against maidens before finishing second in three consecutive Group 1 events, including last time out in the Simon Bolivar. The Venezuelan-bred colt had an impressive work over Gulfstream's main track Saturday morning.
“He is very fit and he's getting stronger and better day by day,” said trainer Juan Carlos Avila. “He is going to deliver a good performance.”
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