A contingent of 12 horses from Mexico led by undefeated 3-year-old colt Kukulkan arrived early Wednesday evening and have settled into Gulfstream Park's backstretch ahead of the Clasico Internacional del Caribe Saturday, Dec. 8.
The group of Mexican horses, eight of which are trained by Fausto Gutierrez, walked the shedrow Thursday morning and were expected to get their first look at Gulfstream's main track on Friday. Gutierrez is scheduled to arrive in South Florida Saturday.
Last to arrive for the Clasico, the Mexican horses join those from Ecuador, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela which first began arriving in mid-October.
Kukulkan, trained by Gutierrez, is being pointed to the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles, the highlight of the day's action. A perfect 13-for-13 in his career, Kukulkan swept the Derby Mexicano, Stakes Jockey Club Mexicano and Gran Premio Nacional this spring and summer to claim Mexico's Triple Crown.
Also among the Mexican contingent is 4-year-old filly Jala Jala, upset winner of the 2017 Clasico del Caribe for Gutierrez. She takes a four-race win streak into an expected start against males again in the $100,000 Confraternity Caribbean Cup for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles.
Gulfstream became the first pari-mutuel facility last year outside Latin America or the Caribbean to host the Clasico Internacional del Caribe since its inception in 1966. Once again, it will play host to five races for horses from eight Latin American and Caribbean countries with purses totaling more than $700,000.
Horses, trainers, grooms, jockeys and members of The Confederation of Caribbean Racetracks bring a truly international flavor to Gulfstream.
The Clasico's history includes the participation of Hall of Fame jockeys Laffit Pincay Jr., Jacinto Vasquez, John Velazquez and Javier Castellano as well as Gustavo Avila, Joel Rosario, Emisael Jaramillo and Jose Lezcano.
Puerto Rico-born jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. won three of the Clasico races last year including the Clasico del Caribe with Jala Jala, while the other two were won by countryman Velazquez.
Gulfstream's Championship Meet, featuring the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series and $1 million Florida Derby (G1), begins Saturday, December 1.
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