The $77,500 Copa Invitacional, a 1 ¼-mile stakes for older horses on Saturday's Clasico Internacional del Caribe program at Gulfstream Park, will feature a rematch between last year's 1-2 finishers.
Panama's Coltimus Prime got the better of Ecuador's El Kurdo by 2 ½ lengths last year, but that duo will have to face the 'Music' this year.
California Music has already shown that he has the stuff to beat the defending Copa Invitacional champion while winning the Clasico Indepencia, in which Coltimus Prime finished third, at Panama's Presidente Remon racetrack.
“He beat him by four or five lengths,” said trainer Alberto 'Droopy' Paz Rodriguez at Wednesday's post position draw for Saturday's $300,000 Clasico del Caribe, which will headline the five-race $600,000 Clasico Internacional del Caribe. “It wasn't the best out for Coltimus Prime, but they ran in a fast time. He beat another nice horse from Argentina.”
California Music also finished ahead of Coltimus Prime while finishing second in the Clasico Presidente de la Republica (G1).
“He's got a lot of speed. He can run in the front or he can come off the pace, because he's so easy to ride. He usually runs close to the pace,” Paz Rodriguez said. “He's adapted well. He's worked well. I think he's got a good chance.”
Luis Saez, the two-time defending Championship Meet titlist, has the mount aboard the 4-year-old son of Maclean's Music.
Paz Rodriguez, who celebrated his 79th birthday Wednesday, has saddled approximately 6,400 winners during a career that commenced in 1971. He is showing no signs of slowing down while maintaining a very full daily schedule in Panama.
“I'm a crazy golfer. I go to the barn at 5:30 in the morning; then, I go to the office – I have an interest in a feed mill and a farm; then at 1:30 or 2 o'clock I go to the golf course, which is right across the street from the racetrack,” he said. “I play every afternoon during the week. On the weekends, I'm not able to play, because I'm at the track, but on Sunday, I play at 6 o'clock in the morning. I get in a quick nine holes.”
Paz Rodriguez will also saddle Fray Angelico for a rematch with Jala Jala in the $100,000 Copa Confraternidad del Caribe, a 1 ¼-mile stakes for older horses. Jala Jala defeated Fray Angelico by nine lengths in last year's Clasico del Caribe.
Kutzamala Brings Strong Credentials into Copa Dama del Caribe
Trainer Fausto Gutierrez will be represented by two Triple Crown winners in Saturday's Clasico Internacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Park. In addition to saddling undefeated Mexican Triple Crown champ Kukulkan for the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe, he will also send out Mexican Filly Triple Crown winner Kutzamala for a start in the $89,000 Copa Dama del Caribe.
Kutzamala, who four straight Grade 1 races in Mexico before finishing fourth in her most recent start, didn't get off to the best start after arriving at Gulfstream Park Nov. 15.
“She had problems when she came here. She had colic when she was in quarantine and we had to stop everything for one week. It made us think whether it was correct to run or not but she recovered in very good form. To stop seven days and have to start again and gain weight and condition is not easy, but she's a Triple Crown winner in Mexico, too. I'm sure she'll run very good,” Gutierrez said. “She's doing good and happy, otherwise I wouldn't run her.”
The Mexican-bred daughter of Point Determined has won eight of 10 starts at Hipodromo De Las Americas.
“This filly, when she was young she had problems in the legs. The first race she had was for a claiming price. She had a little bit of a slow start and in that race she won by almost 20 lengths. Then she had some problems again so we gave her a break, and when she come back she ran very, very good and won over American fillies in Mexico,” Gutierrez said. “She is very good.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., who won three races in last year's Clasico Internacional del Caribe, has the mount.
Hierro Colado Seeks Second Career Stakes Win in Copa Velocidad
Hierro Colado, a Group 3 winner as a 2-year-old in his native Venezuela, makes his North American debut seeking his second career stakes victory in the $105,800 Copa Velocidad for 3-year-olds going six furlongs.
Trained by Gulfstream Park-based Gilberto Zerpa, a fellow Venezuelan taking part in his first Clasico Internacional del Caribe in the U.S., Hierro Colado enters the Copa Velocidad off an allowance win at La Rinconada Oct. 14.
“I'm very happy to participate in the event,” Zerpa said. “Hierro Colado arrived to Gulfstream Park in good condition, he is responding well to my training system, and he is improving more his condition day by day.”
Hierro Colado raced four times as a juvenile, winning the Clasico Victoreado (G3) in his second career start. He capped his campaign running third in the Clasico Comparacion (G1), and was second in the Clasico Francisco de Miranda (G2) in his 3-year-old debut Jan. 28.
Winner of the Copa Water Poet in March, Hierro Colado went unraced for nearly five months before returning with his allowance triumph. He has breezed twice at Gulfstream for the Copa Velocidad, going four furlongs in 48.66 seconds Dec. 1, eighth-fastest of 109 horses at the distance.
“Hierro Colado came back to competition at Venezuela and he did it winning with authority,” Zerpa said. “He is getting strong, gaining weight and looking better and better, so I really think he will be a terrific contender on race day.”
Also representing Venezuela is Big Boris One, a winner of his only two career starts making his stakes debut.
Panama will have four horses in the Copa Velocidad – El Titi, La Polla, Candy Power and You Never Know. La Polla, one of two fillies in the field, is a multiple Group 2 winner and has won two straight, including the Clasico Ruben Orillac Alfaro y Ruben Orillac Perez (G2) Oct. 28, a race where Candy Power ran second.
Completing the field are Puerto Rico's Group 2-placed Don William R and the filly Tati and Group 1-placed Magno from Mexico.
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