Thirteen starter stakes worth a total of $680,000 in purses will kick off Presidents Day weekend at Gulfstream Park Saturday, when trainer Jorge Navarro, as expected, will be a very active participant in the showcase for horses that have competed in claiming races during their careers.
“I'm going to have two horses in a lot of races. One is going to the lead and the other is going to come from out of it,” Navarro said. “I had a conversation with my owners. I said, ‘One of you is going to be a loser and one of you is going to be a winner. I need you guys. I want to win those races.' This is what we do it for – the claiming game.”
Navarro is scheduled to saddle 12 horses in seven races Saturday. His multiple entrants include graded-stakes winner Delta Bluesman, Shaft of Life and He's Got Talent in the $60,000 Rail Splitter; a 6 ½-furlong sprint for horses that started for a $35,000 claiming tag or less; Aztec Sense and Solve in the $50,000 Rough and Ready, a mile race for horses that started for a claiming price of $12,500 or less; graded-stakes winner Singanothersong and Fire Mission in the $50,000 Trust Buster, a six-furlong sprint for horses that ran for a $12,500 tag or less; and Sinatra and Racings My Game in the $50,000 Little Magician, a mile turf stakes for horses that started for a claiming price of $12,500 or less.
“We want to have fun that day and hopefully win a couple races,” Navarro said.
Delta Bluesman, who was claimed for $25,000 in October 2014, achieved his career highlight while winning the 2016 Smile Sprint (G2) at Gulfstream to earn a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), in which he finished fifth after a troubled start. Navarro has saddled the 8-year-old son of Wagon Limit for 10 victories, including a 2 ¼-length optional claiming allowance win off a six-month layoff Jan. 12 at Gulfstream Park.
“He came out of his last race really good. He's really training well for the race,” said Navarro, who gave the return mount to Irad Ortiz Jr. “I gave him a little time off, because I had him three years and he didn't take much time off.”
Shaft of Light, the 2016 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit winner, recently rebounded from a subpar showing in his Claiming Crown title defense to score by four lengths in a $30,000 claiming race at Gulfstream. He's Got Talent has won 11 of 31 career starts.
The Navarro-trained trio are scheduled to clash with multiple-stakes winner Mo Cash, a debut winner for a $35,000 claiming tag who returned to win the American Fabius, a starter stakes for 3-year-olds that will be renewed Saturday. The Ron Spatz-trained 4-year-old most recently finished second behind the Navarro-trained X Y Jet in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.
Aztec Sense, who was claimed for $12,500 at Parx in August, enters the Rough and Ready off a 9 ½-length romp in a seven-furlong starter optional claimer at Gulfstream Jan. 12. The 5-year-old son of Street Sense won at first asking for Navarro, capturing an Oct. 17 entry-level allowance at Parx by 8 ¾ lengths under Paco Lopez.
“The first time I worked him, I said, ‘Whoa!'” Navarro said. “Paco loves him. He rode him the first time at Parx and said, ‘Jorge, he's a nice horse.”
Lopez, whose easy victory aboard Aztec Sense prompted him to make a comparison to Navarro's Grade 1 winner Sharp Azteca, didn't have a smooth trip their second trip to post Dec. 2 in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit, in which he was bumped at the start before closing from 14th to finish fourth. Lopez has been named to ride Aztec Sense.
Solve is scheduled to make his first start for Navarro in the Rough and Ready after being claiming out of a winning effort in a $12,500 claiming race at Gulfstream Jan. 18.
Singanothersong and Fire Mission give Navarro a solid 1-2 punch in the Trust Buster. Singanothersong, who won the 2013 Mr. Prospector (G3), won off the claim for Navarro last time out, scoring by 8 ½ lengths in a $16,000 claiming race. Fire Mission had won four straight races before stepping up to graded-stakes company to finishing sixth behind his stablemate and multiple graded-stakes winner X Y Jet in the Mr. Prospector (G3) last time out.
“They're old class horses,” Navarro said. “They train themselves.”
Sinatra will be looking to rebound in the Little Magician from a fourth-place finish in his most recent outing after winning five of his previous six starts. Racings My Game will make his first start since behind claimed for $16,000 out of a second-place finish.
In addition to his multiple entrants, Navarro is also scheduled to saddle Flowers for Lisa, who captured the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel Dec. 2, for a start in the $60,000 Old Hickory, a 1 1/16-mile race for horses who started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less; Indian Guide, Indian Guide, who was claimed out of his most recent race, in the $60,000 Old Man Eloquent, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for horses that raced for horses that started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less; and Starship Reina in the $50,000 Lady Bird, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares who raced for a claiming price of $12,500 or less.
Flowers for Lisa is scheduled to clash with Page McKenney, a claimer turned graded stakes-winning millionaire; Flashy Jewel, who finished second in the Jewel; Jay's Way, the winner of the Jan. 20 Sunshine Millions Classic; and Catholic Cowboy, the 2014 Jewel winner who finished third in the Sunshine Millions Classic.
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