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Tropical Park Derby and Oaks Kick Off Gulfstream Championship Meet

Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth card Saturday at Gulfstream Park features nine stakes(Photo credit: © Richardpross | Dreamstime.com).

Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Grand Sonata is among the most prominent of 29 nominations for the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby, which will co-headline the Dec. 26 opening day program of the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks.

Grand Sonata, who is undefeated in two starts over the Gulfstream turf course, is one of three Todd Pletcher-trained sophomores nominated to the Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds. The son of Medaglia d’Oro, who won the Dania Beach and the Kitten’s Joy (G3) last season at Gulfstream, has been graded stakes-placed in five of his seven subsequent starts.

The Hall of Fame trainer is also nominated on the nominations list by Travis Lance Fenton’s Native Thunder, who most recently captured an optional claiming allowance on Tapeta at Gulfstream off a five-month layoff; and St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable’s Steady On, who won back-to-back turf races at Belmont before finishing a close second in the Nov. 19 Gio Ponti at Aqueduct, in which he finished a nose in front of Grand Sonata.

W. B. Harrington and Mike Pietrangelo’s Churchtown, who is trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, is also nominated to the Tropical Park Derby after capturing the Gio Ponti by a half-length. The son of Air Force Blue, who has won three of his last four starts, finished second in a Gulfstream Park allowance behind California Frolic last season.

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Julian De Mora Jr.’s California Frolic, who captured the English Channel on turf and Not Surprising on Tapeta at Gulfstream during the spring and summer, is also a strong nominee for the Tropical Park Derby off a third-place finish in the Virginia Derby (G3) at Colonial Downs. The son of California Chrome is trained by Armando De La Cerda.

Portfolio Company and Running Bee Nominated

Klaravich Stables Inc.’s Portfolio Company, a graded stakes-placed son of Kitten’s Joy, and Calumet Farm’s Running Bee, a son of English Channel who is coming off a 5 ½-length optional claiming allowance on turf at Keeneland, represent trainer Chad Brown on the nominations list for the 46th Tropical Park Derby.

Three Diamonds Farm and Deuce Greathouse’s Stolen Base, a Michael Maker-trained graded-stakes winner; Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s Axthelm, a Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained son of Into Mischief who finished a close third in the Bryan Station (G3) at Keeneland in his most recent start; and Robert LaPenta and Brereton Jones’ Fuerteventura, a graded stakes-placed son of Summer Front; are also nominated to the Tropical Park Derby.

The Tropical Park Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drew 16 nominations, including John Gallego’s My Philly Twirl, a daughter of Hard Spun who won three-straight stakes on turf at Gulfstream during last year’s Championship Meet. The Brendan Walsh-trained filly won the Sanibel Island on the Florida Derby (G1) undercard.

Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing and trainer Robert Falcone Jr.’s Spirit and Glory, the Virginia Oaks winner who most recently finished a troubled fourth in the Winter Memories at Aqueduct; Allen Stable Inc.’s Personal Best, a Shug McGaughey-trained daughter of Tapit who is coming off a 4 ½-length optional claiming allowance at Aqueduct; Fortune Racing LLC’s Candy Light, a Graham Motion-trained daughter of Candy Ride who finished third in the Virginia Oaks and is coming off a third-place finish in the Winter Memories; and Diamond 100 Racing Club LLC’s Diamond Wow, the Patrick Biancone-trained 2021 Jessamine (G2) runner-up who has won on turf and dirt at Gulfstream; are among the most prominent Tropical Park Oaks nominees.

Sunshine Meet Ends Christmas Eve

The $100,000 Janus, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up; and the $100,000 Abundantia, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, will be featured on the closing day program of the Sunshine Meet at Gulfstream Dec. 24.

The Janus drew 27 nominations, including William Branch’s defending champion Carotari, a Brian Lynch-trained multiple-stakes winner who has won four of five starts at Gulfstream with one second-place finish.

The Abundantia attracted 20 nominations, including Bridlewood Farm’s Bay Storm, a Brian Walsh-trained daughter of Kantharos, a multiple stakes winner who is coming off a second-place finish at Kentucky Downs in the Ladies Sprint (G1), in which she lost by a nose to multiple graded-stakes winner Campanelle.