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It would be ideal to see as many horsemen as possible out at Gulfstream Saturday in support of the Florida HBPA Stakes Series. As a wonderful surprise, we are very happy and honored to announce that Mr. David Vivian (former trainer of Soldier’s Dancer) will be on hand to present the trophy in Race 11.

The success of the first two races was a great step forward, and we want to keep that momentum going. There are a total of 24 horses entered in our two races, 4 of them on the Also Eligible as Main Track Only entries. This is a great sign. It demonstrates a solid “market” and need for these types of races.

Ginger Punch with owner Frank Stronach and jockey Raphael Bejarano

The $100,000 guaranteed Ginger Punch will be run in Race 5. This is for fillies and mares three-years-old and upward, bred in Florida and is to be run at mile and a sixteenth on the turf course with the rail at 120 feet. Approximate post time at 2:55 pm.

The field includes 8 horses and 1 MTO (main track only) entry.

Winner of the Musical Romance stakes, Money or Love looks to make it two in a row for trainer Anthony Russo and jockey Ramsey Zimmerman.

The competition looks solid! Here are two horses that look very interesting: Pat M’s Image trained by Daniel Gazader is in razor-sharp form winning her last 3 of 5 races. Then there is the Luis Duco-trained Grace B. She finished a game 3rd in her only start as a maiden where she drew the rail on a sloppy track. What makes her interesting is that she is nicely bred for the grass. Could she pull off the upset?

“I really like this stakes series…It’s very important. If we didn’t have this series, we wouldn’t have these horses in South Florida.” – Leo Azpurua, Jr.

Trainer Leo Azpura, Jr. has a good-looking filly Somethingelse.

“Her last one was a weird race where a horse got loose on a 10-length lead which you don’t see often, especially a Pletcher horse. This puts the riders in a Catch-22. My filly ran a big race, but the winner got through on the rail with a perfect ride from Tyler [Gafflione] who was on fire that day and won five races. So no excuses,” said Azpura.

I really like this stakes series. Bill White has done an outstanding job as a horseman, trainer and now President of the FHBPA. I think Florida turned the page going to Gulfstream full year. If we are going to develop the 2-year-olds like we are, and keep it strong as Florida has always been, we need to have something to keep these horses here. It’s very important. If we didn’t have this series, we wouldn’t have these horses in South Florida and as trainers we would have to make a big decision. ‘Do we move our horses? Or, do we just continuously train 2-year-olds and hope that we can sell them?’ Look at Todd Pletcher, he stayed an extra month. I don’t know if he’s staying through the whole summer, but normally he’s not here in June,” he said. “It definitely has it’s purpose. I hope it continues. I think little by little more horsemen will stay. We have to take advantage and bring more of the northern horsemen here. If they have something to justify for their better clients it can happen.”

We wished Leo luck and he said should he win, he wants to dedicate the race to his uncle and longtime trainer Manny Azpurua who passed away two days ago.

Here are the entries for the Ginger Punch

  1. Pat M’s Image trained by Daniel Gazader with Jose Ruiz up
  2. Grace B trained by Luis Duco with Aby Medina up
  3. My Little Princess trained by Ken Westlye with Samy Camacho up
  4. Bitacora trained by Fransico “Kiko” D’Angelo with Roberto Alvarado, Jr. up
  5. Money or Love trained by Anthony Russo with Ramsey Zimmerman up
  6. Lori’s Store trained by Martin Wolfson with Nicky Figeroa up
  7. Somethingelse trained by Leo Azupura, Jr. with Edgar Zayas up
  8. Family Meeting trained by Thomas Proctor with Tyler Gafflione up
  9. Rock Solid Lady – MTO trained by Luis Duco with Marcos Meneses up


Soldier’s Dancer taking the 2007 Calder Derby

Next race, the $100,000 Soldier’s Dancer closes the card in Race 11. This is for three-years-old and upward, bred in Florida and is to be run at mile and a sixteenth on the turf course with the rail at 60 feet. Approximate post time at 6:05 pm.

There is a full-field of 12 horses with 3 MTO (main track only) entries.

It looks to be a very competitive race.

Galleon Mast trained by FHBPA board member David Fawkes is an in-the-money machine on the turf, hitting the board in 9 of 11 turf races.

Then there is the Grade 2 winner Mike Maker trainee, Enterprising. He should be very tough in here.

FHBPA board member Joe Orseno’s lightly-raced Keepingthedreamalive is on a roll. He has won his last three races in a row and is making the step up to the Florida-bred stakes level. He pulled off a hard fought win off of a 10-month layoff, and definitely has a good chance.

Trainer Bobby Dibona’s entry, Completely Bonkers draws the 9 hole and is coming off a gutsy win.

“This series is important to me…we’re making some changes and looking to add more Florida-breds to our program.” – Bobby Dibona

“He has the ability to come from behind, the last race he broke so sharp and got engaged quickly, But he ran his race and did the job,” Dibona said. “As for Saturday, I’ve not really taken the race apart in detail, but I would imagine we can kind of flop out of there and let him lay where he’s comfortable then let him loose to come running down the lane.”

As far as making the jump in class Dibona feels Completely Bonkers has earned his way and deserves a chance to be in a race like this.

This is the first time that I’m staying the summer here at Gulfstream. I normally campaign in the northeast at this time of year. But, I’m making some changes now, I bought a very nice Florida-bred filly at the sale, and I have this colt, and we’re looking to add more Florida-breds to our program. So this series of races is very important to me,” he concluded.

Here are the entries for the Soldier’s Dancer

  1. Favorite Heir trained by Lilli Kurtinecz with Ramsey Zimmerman up
  2. Galleon Mast trained by David Fawkes with Miguel Vasquez up
  3. Enterprising trained by Michael Maker with Tyler Gafflione up
  4. My Point Exactly trained by Elizabeth Dobles with Jose Batista up
  5. Squadron trained by Todd Pletcher with Cornelio Velasquez up
  6. Unbridled Holiday trained by Patrick Biancone with Nicky Figeroa up
  7. Keepingthedreamalive trained by Joe Orseno with Edgar Zayas up
  8. Piloting trained by Mark Casse with Jose Rios up
  9. Completely Bonkers trained by Bobby Dibona with Carlos Montalvo up
  10. Two Step Time trained by Michael Maker with Emisael Jaramillo up
  11. Mystic Sky trained by Philip Gleaves with Luca Panici up
  12. Tutti Sanno trained by Reid Nagle with Samy Camacho up
  13. Royal Squeeze – MTO trained by Ralph Nicks with Tyler Gafflione up
  14. Chiseled – MTO trained by Fernando Abreu with Jorge Ruiz up
  15. Sir Hannoun – MTO trained by Fernando Abreu with Aby Medina up

Watch Ginger Punch win the 2007 Breeder’s Cup Distaff


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